Flashback 5 years. I’m a college freshman and of course, a graphic design major. Entering college, I knew I had to choose a major, but what I didn’t know right away was that I needed to choose an emphasis as well.For graphic designers at my university, the emphasis could be marketing, visual arts, or editorial. All emphasizes are completely valuable in their own ways, but marketing classes hold beneficial information all design students should take advantage of, in addition to the more creative classes.
Post-college, there are certain skills all designers need to have. An understanding of marketing is one of them, no matter which path they decide to take. Coming out of college with that basic understanding, has made me a more well-rounded designer who can bring more to the Pulse Marketing table. Because I understand basic marketing, I design with it in mind. It isn’t just about composition, typography, and colors. I understand that I am choosing and organizing my design elements based off of the target market. I want to know which of my designs have connected with people and which have not, so I can adjust my future designs accordingly. This personal desire to learn and grow, also makes life easier for our project managers. They don’t have to push me as much, in terms of how my designs will be perceived with marketing in mind. Although, when they do, it’s not hard to get me to understand why.
I personally believe graphic design and marketing go hand-in-hand. Designing with the audience in mind is important, in order to better reach the audience. I know that sentence sounds simple and repetitive, but many designers get too caught up in their own personal aesthetics. This can become problematic when trying to make sales, working for an agency or not.
As for the designers who aren’t destined to work in a marketing firm like myself, I still believe marketing knowledge is important. My brother is currently majoring in graphic design at the same university I attended. He on the other hand, is much more of a free-spirited, creative designer. He chose visual arts as his emphasis and I think that is the perfect fit for him. Although, I have been trying to get him to take some marketing classes… One day, when he is at a creative agency or freelancing, he will still need to know his audience, figure out what gives him a competitive edge over his competitors, and understand his product’s relevancy and purpose. This is all especially true if he is pursuing freelance, because he is then promoting himself and essentially running a business. He will need to understand how to measure and track things like Return on Investment and effectiveness of social media. He will have to do some research to better understand where to sell and for how much. He will have to learn about Search Engine Optimization, customer relationship management, the different types of marketing, and so much more.
I did not major in marketing and currently do not do a lot of it, but having a surface-level knowledge makes it less daunting if I ever do choose to pursue freelance or higher, more business oriented positions in my field. Ultimately, attaining that basic marketing knowledge makes for more well-rounded and efficient designers, with more opportunities for growth.