Why it’s time for marketing to reappraise the role of design

As marketing becomes more complex and fragmented, the customer experience requires consistency more than ever: which is where designers become vital, says Andrew Barraclough, vice-president of global design, GSK

Once upon a time, marketing and design were only ever considered as two distinct disciplines within businesses, sitting in their respective silos. Design was associated with a few specific areas – graphics, furniture, fashion and products.

But design now pervades all areas of business and the way that people interact with brands – across multiple channels, through different technology and via numerous products and services – means it is essential for design thinking to be embedded across the business, and especially within marketing.

Marketing is under enormous pressure – mass personalisation, manifold channels and diverse messages have all increased fragmentation. It is within this context that marketers must ensure a consistent brand image and positioning is maintained.

Which is why design and marketing must work in unison as a strategic lever to build brand loyalty. For design now incorporates digital design, from the user experience (UX) to product, packaging and shopper design. Every customer interaction across these multiple moments is the brand in action and it is only when design is an integral part of the development process that a seamless experience can be assured.

Without this structure, the risk is that an organisation operates with ‘silent designers’ – unqualified people making design decisions. This can happen because people aren’t necessarily aware that what they are involved with is design. But every time a website or an app is signed off, so is the UX and user interface (UI) – all design decisions.