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Marketing by design

Graphics | November 1, 2008 | By:

Design can support a solid business strategy.

Marketing is the process of communicating product information or messages to a target audience. The target audience is a group of people who receive the marketing messages and have the potential to respond. There are many ways of communicating messages through ads, publications, and promotions that include coupons, sponsorships, and even newspaper articles. Planned messages that are delivered in a variety of ways have a higher degree of success.

A marketing plan is a written document that details the actions needed to achieve these objectives. Plans are often made annually, list specific objectives, and have measured outcomes. Basic questions will help to develop the plan. Who are our customers? What are our customers’ characteristics? Why do they purchase or use this product? How do we identify and reach them? What is our problem or opportunity? Who is the competition? What do we do better than anyone else? The answers to these questions determine the creative strategy of the marketing plan.

Design can support the plan in many different ways. Design elements can build the brand image and support the message. Elements include:

Type. A brand can be strengthened or a look can be established through consistent use of type in all publications. A typeface or family of fonts presents a unified look. Many companies have assigned specific fonts to use in all their publications.

Color. Some companies have specific colors for use in all publications, which can strengthen and support the brand. One company may choose to use four-color work in publications; another company may use only two specific colors. To further emphasize the color connection, some companies even ask employees to wear company colors for meetings and important public events.

Visuals. Using photos or illustrations can increase visual recognition. Some companies use only photos or only illustrations to achieve a specific look. Even the style of the image used (such as a four-color photo or black and white line art) can enhance a visual statement.

Layout. Layout places the copy, color, art, and type. A consistent layout is a common way to establish a company’s look or feel. Publications might be printed only horizontally or vertically or on the same type of paper to enhance the marketing message.

Copy. Some companies always use a large headline and little copy. Another company relies heavily on copy, and still another may use only copy or copy in an area of white space. Consistently doing the same thing sets a look for faster identification.

Placement. Ads can always be placed in the same position in a publication. Readers will learn to look in a specific place for each ad.

Logo. Any publication or Web site should have a company logo and it should be handled according to the company logo standards at all times.

Tagline. A tagline is used with a message to summarize the point. A key visual can be used with it to convey the message. It should be simple so it can easily be remembered.

All these elements working together can present a unified look, project a strong brand, and communicate a clear message.

Sara Klomp is creative director at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minn.

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