Strategy and design are naturally separate since they are almost opposites but this is a huge mistake when it comes to graphic design. Since graphic design serves a purpose in communication, branding, and a business' success, it must be strategic and thoughtful...not just beautiful.
Strategy on its own
Strategy on its own can help any business tremendously. It should be the cornerstone of every company's plan because it should guide the trajectory of an organization. Without a strategy and deep understanding of how a business is going to get where they want to go, it is like shooting at a target that doesn't exist. For a business to succeed, they need the strategy, understanding and plan of why and how they exist. As well as a plan of how they can get where they want to go.
Design on its own
Designers are taught how to design beautifully when it pertains to the technicality of their art and the principles of design. They are taught key factors like balance, emphasis, movement, proportion, rhythm, unity and variety. They are also taught skills such as typography, layout, vector illustration, digital painting, and much more. These are all crucial for a designer to understand and utilize well. When someone looks at a piece of design work and loves it, they might not know why but most likely it is due to the artist using expert craft and these elements of design very well. It is not always noticeable why, but the way the designer designs something determines if you are drawn to the work or not.
How they work together
While strategy and design are extremely important separately, they are much better together. They are usually separated since they can be considered opposites. When you have a designer who understands the meaning and purpose of the work they are creating, there is almost always a better end result.
As an artist, a person can create beautiful art for the sake of art and beauty only. When a graphic designer is creating a piece of work, they must consider the objective of the project, how they are going to get there, and how they can communicate from the business to the consumer in an effective way. A good designer should always understand business and strategy. If the designer alone is not doing strategy and design, they should have a team of people who can work together to develop the strategy.
The questions that should be considered to determine a strategy of the design are..
Why are we creating this work?
What purpose does this serve to the business as well as to the consumer?
Who is the consumer?
What does the consumer feel, like, dislike, need, and what is their problem that I can help them solve?
What does success in this project look like?
Once these questions are asked and answered, the design and type of work can be determined accordingly. This is different depending on the project, but there should always be a clear objective and plan.
How this will benefit your business largely and produce a much higher ROI
When there is a clear objective, there is almost always a higher ROI. Many times a customer thinks they know what they need because this is what they hear from social media, the internet and ads everywhere. The reality is, marketing is not ever one size fits all. This is why it is important for a designer to help determine the problem and find a solution. It is difficult with all of the noise out there to know what you need as a business, this is why a good designer or marketing company should be able to help you determine what your needs really are.
When there is a strategy, the designer can also communicate well and bridge the gap between the business and the consumer. This really is extremely important. The better that a business relates directly the their customers, the higher their ROI will be. This cannot be done well if the project does not have a strategic plan.
How to know if a designer is strategic and business minded as well as skilled at their craft
If you are looking for a graphic designer, make sure to ask quality questions. I see people use designers all of the time that do not even use the correct software. It is difficult for someone without the knowledge of graphic design to know what to look for. I would suggest to ask both technical questions as well as questions about their process. It is important that both aspects of strategy and skill are determined.
What programs do you use for design work? (Canva is not a program that should be used for professional graphic design. The only software that should ever be used for a logo design is Adobe Illustrator. For layout and design work acceptable programs are Adobe Illustrator or InDesign. Photoshop should only be used for editing photos or for digital painting)
What is your experience in this type of project?
What is your process to determine direction of the design? Do you create a strategy or a plan for the reasons you are designing things a certain way?
I hope that this information is helpful to your business. It is my desire to help people understand my perspective on this as I have seen the value of merging design and strategy. Here at Norris Design, we use strategy in everything that we do. This looks different for each project but it is always very clear. Our goal is always the highest quality of work that actually produces results. Talk to us today if you are interested in working one on one with us!
Check out our blog Why Every Marketing Strategy is Unique for more information.
Also, you may find What Is Brand Strategy? useful.