How does graphic design work with sales and marketing? Why does good design matter? Why is it worth investing the time and energy?
These are all reasonable questions for those who may not already understand the rich value that good design brings to the world. In the realm of sales and marketing, good design serves not only as a support system, but even more so as a foundational element alongside good content and messaging within the building blocks of the business.
Aside from the fact that stick figures sketched on a piece of notebook paper or using the same, dry template over and over again may not be the most creative outputs—there are some valid reasons why good design and successful sales and marketing go hand-in-hand:
1. Design is a viable business strategy
Some people consider design as simply a way to make things look “pretty” — almost as an afterthought rather than a priority. However, design serves as a business strategy that solves visual problems, illustrates important information and helps bring ideas to life. In particular, these business strategies include:
Controlling the Message: Take a look at all the powerful brands of the world. Companies like Apple, Target, Amazon, Nike, Coca-Cola (to name a few) understand that they are not just selling products, but an experience. They use good design — colors, fonts, imagery, graphic elements, placement, contrast, etc — to evoke an emotion and a spirit that people across the world resonate with immediately.
Innovation: Design provides the business an opportunity to level up its visual messaging and transform the way the market responds and reacts to new products, ideas and trends.
User Experience: The customer or user’s experience should be a consistent priority. Design easily influences how and why a user engages, reacts, trusts and keeps coming back to the product. Giving intentional focus to this area by continuing to adjust design according to user feedback is essential to the growth and success of a product.
When all of these strategies work together, the business can start seeing remarkable results.
“Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.”
— Robert L. Peters, Canadian graphic designer and educator.
2. It creates consistency in the brand
Brand encompasses the visuals, words, emotions and values evoked by a product, business, person and/or idea. Good design enforces the visual part of the brand. When good design is a constant, it helps businesses maintain brand consistency. Brand consistency elevates the confidence of sales and marketing in their interactions with prospects and vice versa, because the visual message aligns and supports their written and spoken messages.
Being recognizable in the market through consistency and frequency creates an expectancy from the customer that “this next thing is gonna be good” (whether it actually ends up being good or not). In turn, visual brand consistency should continue to reflect the values of the business.
“Bad design is smoke, while good design is a mirror”
— Juan-Carlos Fernandez
3. It helps to establish and maintain trust in the market
Maintaining a visual message that is consistent with the message of the salesperson and of the marketer is key. Good design gives sales the tools they need to help them sell confidently and explain why their product should be bought. It also reinforces the messages that marketers share: through well thought out visual campaigns, compelling social media graphics, effective advertisements, infographics and collateral.
Internally, good design can create confidence across departments with valuable sales tools, marketing tools, training tools, and visual systems that help organize company processes. In the market, it helps the user feel confident that they are engaging with a credible company. Imagery goes a long way in conveying business values to the market, whether that’s affordability, luxury, reliability, innovation, productivity, etc.
When customers and prospects can visually see a consistent level of quality and care put behind a product or idea, they can trust that the business is credible in their efforts and worthy of their attention.
At the end of the day, sales and marketing teams can probably survive for a while without good design in the forefront. But why just survive when you can thrive? Why risk trust, credibility, brand consistency and a solid visual message? Good design gives a product, service or idea a great head start, while effective sales and marketing work to take it across the finish line. When design (aka visual problem solving) is a priority, sales and marketing can move forward with greater confidence in what they are selling and the intended audience can feel assured that they are receiving the right messages. That’s a win-win situation.
“Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous.”
— Ralph Caplan