Pretty pictures vs making marketing work

Some might see this topic as controversial, but my aim is to show that having a beautiful logo, a “creative” advertisement and/or a pretty website is not necessarily going to mean a fast track to early retirement! I have spent my career “debating” the importance of creativity with numerous creative directors and, as yet, opinions still differ.

What I am saying is that, in my opinion when it comes to the pecking order, producing an effective marketing platform like a website is more important that what it looks like. Why? Because I feel that design is so subjective. What a designer may like or what an MD of a company might like may be totally different to what a customer or prospective customer may like. This is where testing can play a major part.

Dont be too “arty”

The key area for me is ensuring that the initiative ticks certain boxes BEFORE the creatives get hold of it! I am not devaluing the importance of visual impact (after all, there are awards ceremonies for creativity and not strategy!); more that, if a website doesn’t take the browser on a journey and/or answer all their questions, they are not going to interact with the site. Thus, do a site map for a new website before the initial design.

In addition, the trend a while back was for having an advert with lots of “white space” which meant that essential information that the buyer needed may have been left off. e.g Dont assume just putting a website address or a facebook page will suffice vs showing your full contact details!  

Similarly, never underestimate the importance of good copy. Some businesses are very quick to dismiss content in favour of doing it themselves, but a business owner is unlikely to write about their business in the correct way that attracts a potential customer.

When communicating with customers, give them enough information to make a decision. Yes, make the look of the advert or the website or the exhibition stand inviting, but try not to dwell too much on the look. 

It is the job of the marketing consultant to get under the skin of an organisation; i.e. get to know its personality, its customers, its target market and then put together its brand identity and USP.

I know there are lots of designers out there who may disagree so I would be interested in hearing any comments.


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