Can't We All Just Get Along? How To Bridge the Marketing/Design Gap

Paul Schetelich

Lead Designer

One would assume that the marketing and design teams would get along great. One creates the content and the other creates the visuals. But if you belong to either party, you know all too well that these teams go from being friends to frenemies pretty quickly. Marketers get frustrated when the design that was created for them doesn’t fit their content, and designers become irritated when they see that the content doesn’t match their design. It’s a difficult relationship for obvious reasons, but can’t we all just get along?

Actually, we can.

Let’s first talk about why there are often rifts between marketing and design. It’s important to understand what drives tension in this relationship.

Working Separately

For the best results, marketing and design should work in tandem. But all too often, these teams work separately.

Let’s say Sal from design spends his days working on a great design for an upcoming article. He chooses the layout, the color and the graphics. Everything looks great, but then he gets back the content which doesn’t fit the design. Sal wishes that the marketing department would just change the content to fit his work.

On the other hand, Trish from marketing spent her time writing the content and she’s not about to change anything. She was given the topic, which was well-researched in advance from others on her team. Why doesn’t Sal just change the graphics to fit her work?

If this sounds like your work life, then you can certainly relate. But if Sal and Trish would have just collaborated before they started working on their projects, the end result would have been much different. Marketers can’t just create content and ask designers to make it look nice. Both sides must work together to create a cohesive vision that embraces both the content and the design.

Changing the Trajectory

Another problem that marketers and designers face is a changing vision. If Sal and Trish sit through a meeting and discuss the project, they expect things to stay the same when they part ways. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for the vision to change and one party not be informed.

Let’s say that after agreeing on functional and creative elements, Sal goes ahead and creates a wireframe. Both Sal and Trish approve it with some minor changes, and Sal completes the design. But when Sal submits his work, he finds that Trish and others on the marketing team changed their vision. While it’s understandable that things like this happen sometimes, it doesn’t have to be the norm. No one likes to see their work scrapped, especially when they’ve met all the initial requirements of the project.

Poor Communication

Communication is crucial for all relationships, and the marketing/design one is no exception. If Trish finds that she doesn’t like the final design from Sal, she needs to clearly express why that’s the case. If she simply says, “I don’t like it,” Sal has no direction of what to do. In fact, Trish can even come up with some suggestions to help Sal out.

Learning each other’s language is a helpful way to communicate effectively. But it’s also important to remember that each person is an expert in their field. Marketing can’t just cross over and act like they know everything about design. Designers have rich backgrounds in design and UX. Likewise for writers. Designers shouldn’t mock them when they haven’t taken an English class since high school.

How to Bridge the Marketing/Design Gap

So what are some of the ways that your own company can help bridge the gap between the marketing and design teams? We’ve got some helpful tips that will make all the Sals and Trishs at your workplace happier.

  • Collaborate Often: One meeting isn’t enough to get the marketing and design teams on the same page. Both teams should work together continuously on each project to discuss things like objectives, success metrics and themes.

  • Present Outlines: The design team isn’t the only one that should provide a basic framework for their design. The marketing team should come up with an idea of what the format will look like. This helps everyone to work toward the same end result.

  • Share Goals: Define your goals right from the start. Is the piece of content designed to entertain your audience? Educate them? Encourage them to move further down the funnel? By defining your goals, it reduces the tension of who’s right and who’s wrong. The important thing is that the final piece speaks to your audience.

  • Be Flexible: Flexibility is a good trait to have in the marketing world. Sometimes, you have to pick your battles and let certain things go. Your opinion may differ from the next, but as long as you are keeping your goals in mind, staying true to your brand and matching the needs of your customers, it’s okay to take the back seat on some issues.

  • Be Respectful: Respect makes the world go round. If you’re a writer and don’t respect the design team or vice versa, the workplace isn’t going to be a very fun place to be. Understand that everyone has a unique contribution to the overall project whether it’s contributing the design, the content or the ideas. You can’t handle every aspect of the content, so be appreciative for what everyone brings to the table.

Conclusion

Marketers and designers are playing for the same team. By bringing their unique skill sets to the project, sharing ideas, exchanging information and supporting each other, they can create a much happier environment that fosters creativity and fun. The best part is that this can be seen in the content as well. When everyone works together and gets along, the finished product is so much better.

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About the Author: Paul Schetelich

Since the days of sidewalk chalk and finger paints, Paul has been creatively crafting the art of design. With a B.A. in Graphic Design from Monmouth University and a Masters from the Califano School of Art - Paul quickly moved up the ranks at SEMGeeks from Junior Designer to the Lead Designer. With 4+ years of experience in web design Paul is ready to conquer the digital atmosphere.

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