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6 Design Team Issues that Negatively Affect Marketing Departments

November 6, 2019 / Blog

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Even some of the world’s biggest brands have trouble marketing. 

Not every idea is a home run and often, internal struggles are a primary cause of marketing failures. Sometimes, bringing concepts to fruition just isn’t a smooth process—especially when the struggles involve design.

Self-inflicted wounds are avoidable, but only if your team is able to recognize how it’s holding itself back.

If the problem involves the design team specifically, it’s important to look at where failures occur and how to avoid and overcome them. Here are seven of the most common for enterprise-level design teams.

1. Isolation

In today’s turbulent, customer-driven marketplace, Agile has become king, and although its practices allow companies to flourish in the volatile and complex environment we now live in, the same practices can cause unintended inefficiencies beneath the surface.

For example, designers are now finding themselves embedded in cross-functional teams with engineers and product owners. Although this has its advantages, it isolates designers from each other, bringing problems of its own.

In isolation, designers can no longer receive the career-progressing design feedback they received when working closer to other designers. In time, this isolation can cause feelings of career stagnation and ultimately drive them to search for greener pastures.

For obvious reasons, this reality can lower the caliber of a company’s marketing efforts.

Yes, designers need to work with the people in charge of producing the concepts they’ll create, but they also need to collaborate with other creatives who have a hand in marketing, like copywriters and web designers.

Isolating the design department means losing the cohesion between these groups and the capabilities they have when working as a team.

2. Loss of Vision

With successful products come product expansions, related offerings, supporting services, and the like.

As teams divide to specialize in each corner of the product segment, the shared vision of the original product can get diluted (or worse, completely lost) in the shuffle.

As a marketing professional, you understand a lack of cohesion and identity can negatively impact the customer experience.

And internally, designers feel the loss of product vision most acutely.

Marketing can help designers working across product divisions by providing a North Star to guide design systems.

3. Confusion Over Branding Guidelines

This is related to Point #2, but pertains to when the company or brand itself evolves rather than an individual product or service. 

As a brand grows and evolves, so does its core elements: fonts, colors and proportions change, logos, verbiage as well as imagery. 

Even companies with well-established brand guidelines need to keep their branding updated and consistent. Confusion over even small nuances can stall a project. If it’s not on-brand, it’s not approved.

A freelancer unfamiliar with the branding rules. A tenured designer who’s seen several iterations. Anyone on the design team can get confused if the brand guidelines aren’t clear and accessible. 

Make sure everyone involved in the design process—from graphic artists to copywriters, web developers to consultants—has access to the most up-to-date version of the style guide at all times.

4. Handcuffing Design by Stakeholders

One of the quickest ways to crush the design team and stagnate marketing is to handcuff creators. 

Put them in a box. 

Put a cap on their imagination. 

Whatever you call it, it’s death for any prospect of marketing success.

This is a top-down problem. An executive doesn’t like the bold new idea, so they tear it down and go with the same old concept. A marketing manager doesn’t listen to the idea of a talented designer because they “haven’t put in their time.”

Handcuffing can happen any time you invalidate an idea before actually considering it. 

For design concepts especially, something new or bold is always worth considering—even if you don’t ultimately use it.

Designers who feel heard and valued are more likely to keep coming up with concepts. 

Eventually, one of them will be a winner.

5. Circular Feedback & Revisions

Any creative is used to getting feedback. 

But no matter how much feedback you provide or in what capacity you deliver it, there’s nothing more infuriating than circular revisions. 

It typically goes like this:

  1. Jane marks up a design and changes elements A, B and C. 
  2. The designer makes revisions. 
  3. Then Mark changes element A back to the original and tweaks element C again. 
  4. The designer makes revisions. 
  5. Then Leslie changes elements A, B and C a little bit. 
  6. The designer makes revisions… again.

Look familiar?

This vicious cycle can go on forever, and it will if people continue to make changes to changes that have already been changed.

It’s frustrating for a designer who sees every iteration. They’re often changing things several times, only to revert to an earlier design.

The simplest way to nip this problem in the bud is to encourage holistic feedback. Have everyone provide feedback or revisions on a design before sending it back to the artist.

Holistic revisions result in more cohesive final designs and a sane design team.

6. Project Hierarchy & Delegation

If everything is urgent, nothing is urgent. 

It’s the motto of someone who has been at the receiving end of a project barrage—often, a designer.

Good design work takes time and there’s a clear difference between work that’s rushed and work properly managed.

The solution to getting high-caliber design work and top-tier marketing graphics is to manage projects and delegate work with a mind for turnaround and capacity

Designers have varying capacities and work at different speeds, and each project comes with its own demands. 

Instead of throwing the next available designer at a project or heaping more into the fire, pay attention to logistics.

Conclusion

These seven problems nag at even the biggest brands. Sometimes, working with creatives requires a break from the business mindset. It takes emphasis on the human element and an understanding of team collaboration to tear down these roadblocks and kick marketing design efforts back into high gear.

Design issues hindering you from making successful marketing campaigns? Contact SlideGenius today and we’ll help you get back on track.