July 8, 2020

Designers Are The Most Overworked, Undervalued, and Unappreciated Marketing Team Members

Earlier this year I nominated Nexthink’s lead marketing designer Amanda Murrin for “Marketer of the Year”.  She’s an incredible designer, and even more incredible human being.

To some that might sound a little weird, and I think that’s because marketers don’t typically view their design team members as part of marketing.

This morning I stumbled across this Reddit thread from a designer trying to explain what it’s like to work in marketing. It made me sad, and I felt compelled to write this post, because I really don’t think marketers understand how hard the in-house designers work for them, and how little respect they receive in return.

So here it goes…. Here is my LIMITED view into what Amanda deals with on a daily basis.

Let’s start with the “overworked” part of this post with the most timely and routine of design activities… campaign creative…

Campaign Creative

For each and every campaign that we launch at Nexthink we attempt to produce a “creative bundle” that includes the following:

  • Website
    • Featured Image
    • Cover Image
    • Background Image
    • PDF Cover Image
  •  Email
    • Hero Image
    • Signature Line Promo
  • Advertising
    • LinkedIn Ads
    • Google Ads
    • Twitter Cards
    • Facebook Ads
  • Social
    • LinkedIn Card
    • Twitter Card

Depending on the type of campaign this might include other assets such as a full PDF design for a web resource or booth designs for an in-person event. The needs vary by the activity.

Regardless, if you run 450 campaigns in a year that’s A LOT of creative, and if you have a marketing team that wants “revisions” or “options” when it comes to deign you may as well double that workload.

That’s just the work that comes with campaigning.

There’s also web design…

Web Design

The website is often on the back burner of every designer’s list. They are working on highly interactive and complex web prototypes for your digital team, dev team, and CMO.

Often times in order to do this work your designer needs to know basic web development. HTML, CSS, and maybe even some JS.  What’s more they need to be versed in responsive web design, design frameworks, and other topics that most marketers don’t know exist.

This is a heavy lift that involves ENDLESS revisions and often times make designers what to kill themselves.

BUT GUESS WHAT, THERE’S MORE….

Ad Hoc Design

At and given point in time your designer(s) are working on PowerPoint slides for your CEO,  demo videos that need an unbelievable amount of editing for your product marketing team, letterhead for legal, a Zoom background for IT, a full interior design plan for HRs office efforts, and a word template for that one sales guy.

All of these team members want EVERYthing at the drop of a hat and wait until the last possible minute to make their needs know. Often times it is very clear that they don’t respect their designers’ time.

Finally. After complete exhaustion your designer gets to address the elephant in the room that perpetually undermines their work as a designer… Design debt.

Design Debt

A lot of marketing teams forego hiring a designer for YEARS. They rely on their marketing team members to social cards, ads, email banners and other bits of creative that largely go unseen for years.

They rack up incredible amounts of design debt that goes unrealized for years, and in many cases never gets paid because their designers are so bogged down with the day-to-day.

However, if you’ve got a good designer they likely want to go through all the old emails, pdfs, and other asses to start to formalize the brand, and make sure it reflects their hard work.

They’ll take something that looks like this….

 

… and turn it into this….

 

Undervalued

That takes care of the “overworked” piece of this article, but what about the “undervalued” part?

I think it’s easy to forget that your designers are skilled employees, with a strong grasp of their field, that have an immense amount of knowledge to contribute to your efforts.

The same way EVERYONE at a company thinks they are a marketer…. EVERY marketer for some reason thinks they are a designer. Fact.

Guess what…. you’re not.

Do you know know:

  • Basic web development: HTML & CSS
  • Design Tools: Adobe Create Suite, Sketch, InVision, Frontify, Craft, Figma, Procreate

Are you able to edit videos, create your own typeface, touchup photographs, design responsive websites, create incredible animations, and maintain a cohesive brand, and conjure up creativity on demand. Have you done extensive research around common UI patterns, and various UX topics. Do you even know the fucking difference between UI  and UX?

Likely the answer is no.

So why then, do you treat your designers like they are unskilled grunt workers?

Conclusion

That’s the end of my rant. I guess my message is the following.

Please… respect your designers and show them appreciation. 

Give them bandwidth, creative freedom, resources, and try not to mess with their end product.

They are skilled workers that have the power to CREATE or RUIN your brand the same way your hairdresser or barber can really screw up your life with a bad haircut.

Tag your amazing and likely overworked design colleagues below.

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