Working With ‘Design Thinkers’ — How Can Marketers Make The Most Of It

Working With ‘Design Thinkers’ — How Can Marketers Make The Most Of It

Working With ‘Design Thinkers’ — How Can Marketers Make The Most Of It 2600 1728 Use Design
The boom of Design Thinking culture seems ready to transform the relationship between marketers and designers. Structures of organizations are already changing and will soon require new ways to collaborate.


A multitude of consultants and agencies offer a spectrum of services that encompass both marketing and design. After all, these two fields are meant to complement each other in many ways. But what does it mean for marketers to work alongside a new in-house design department, instead of an external agency or a subordinate design team?

My contribution to this issue is rather curious: the perspective I am bringing is not of a marketer welcoming designers into the company, but that of an outcast marketer who joined an entrepreneurial design environment.

Within just a few months, it’s easy to identify the points of difference between the working style of a marketer and that of a designer. But I truly believe they can create a powerful relationship, capable of sustainable business growth. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of it:

Don’t underestimate their entrepreneurship

We shouldn’t assume designers don’t understand business. They may sometimes look at it from different angles, but there are reasons some of them have made it to the top. Think about many of this generation’s disruptive startups — AirBnb, YouTube, Pinterest, Kickstarter, to name a few. And not to forget my own entrepreneurial endeavors around a product created by (guess) designers.

The key here is to not ignore their insights and trust their guts from time to time. They may hand out extremely valuable ideas that involve any area of your business.

Trailer of ‘Design Disruptors’, by InVision

Surrender to good taste

Let’s not fool ourselves. We all think we have a good taste for things. When it comes to design, any businessman could assume they can tell ‘good’ from ‘bad’. But the fact is that it’s designers’ territory. Be it the good old graphic design, user interface or product design, designers are generally up-to-date and like to evangelize about good practices.

It’s the little suggestions that make all the difference. So don’t forget to pass by the new “design office” and consult them before sharing your next PowerPoint slide, analyzing your competitor’s new visual identity or choosing an image for a quick social media post. They may point you to the right direction.

Appreciate their simplicity

As marketers, we all tend to be very analytical before making important decisions. It’s a good thing. But sometimes it can lead to overthinking scenarios and missing out on opportunities for growth. During those tricky moments, one of the most rewarding suggestions you could get is a “Why don’t you just try it out?”, by an experienced designer.

Try not to misinterpret the simplicity behind it. A quick observation like this may have cost years of experience and repeated trials — one of the reasons the Design Thinking culture has spread in the first place. This approach can be embedded in their workflow in such a way, that we might be left wondering why we didn’t think like this before.

Fuel your creativity

This is not a surprise since customer-centric innovation is driving big corporations to shift their culture. But regardless of how this is leveraged inside a company, we can individually take advantage of the new working environment to boost our creativity.

If you still haven’t had the opportunity to work on projects with designers, at least try to observe them. The way they work, communicate, organize their thoughts. Everything — from the stacks of post-it notes around the room, to the way they use their computer software, may be a cue to Design Thinking.

Marketers and designers still have a lot to learn from each other. Exciting challenges seem to be coming their way, but as long as they embrace change and look for the big picture, they may one day be called the disrupting duo.

Pedro Sant’Anna — Business and Design Strategist @ Use Design 

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