It’s a design world, and marketing is not only living in it but also thriving in it too.

Make no mistake that human-centric design is soaring as an irreplaceable factor in the ongoing hustle of earnest brand marketing that’s meant to leave a genuinely striking impression. The synergy between design and marketing remains pronounced, while the ebbs and flows of modern commerce suggest that a tangible correlation between the two will continue to have enormous implications on tomorrow’s economic climate.

With a flash of design, the forecast is bright. Here’s why.

Brands have gradually keyed in on a digital takeover that will equate to an estimated $389 billion digital ad spend globally this year and eclipse $500 billion by the year 2024, according to statistics from eMarketer. These represent alarming numbers serving as an exclamation point on the fact that traditional marketers are now wholly immersed in a cultural shift to digital brand experiences. The model of linear television advertisements and campaign-based :30 spots is succumbing to a surge in streaming viewership and being supplanted by an eye-popping emergence of digital inventory. Modern consumers are connected to the point where they’re never really tuned out, absorbing messaging from all angles and drawing conclusions based on noise. Brands that aren’t demonstrating agility or “punch” in a palatable, well-rounded customer experience are more vulnerable to becoming lost in the shuffle.

In Salesforce’s annual “State of Marketing” report, CMO Stephanie Buscemi cites “relentless focus on the customer experience” as a primary pillar of growth for marketers who continue adjusting to today’s recovery mode economic climate. It was a theme towering over the report’s findings, as 4 in 5 customers now claim that a company’s “experience” is equally as important as its products and services. That experience is always manifesting itself in a variety of ways. Risk-averse marketers can measure experience by tracking web and mobile analytics at increasingly high volumes, in lieu of uncovering answers (or peculiarities, rather) about user acquisition, behavioral pathways, click-through rates, referral traffic, etc. In addition to customer experience, the report urged marketers to plunge forward by innovating and adapting to the “speed of change,” while configuring opportunities to engage customers in real-time. It’s a momentous task requiring a cohesive visual identity and modernized brand ecosystem to succeed.

Image Credit: OneLineStock.com on Adobe Stock

And so, the script of “traditional” brand marketing strategy has been flipped by the genesis of interactive experiences that play on the heart strings of customers. Certainly a far cry from the 1960s Mad Men days where TV and radio were front-and-center as the only mechanisms dominating airwaves. Although the allure and ROI of Super Bowl commercials is still a beast for marketers, it’s now best practice for all of that buzz to be mirrored impeccably on a corresponding digital interface, or even supplemented by an inviting out-of-home (OOH) media strategy, that supports or informs the captive audience more adequately than a spontaneous 0:30 spot would on its own. It’s been a generational changing of the guard in terms of how brands are choosing to facilitate a complete experience, and the results of how customers are choosing to decipher or unlock that experience. Distracted behaviors and fleeting attention spans are shaping up to be a real challenge in the days ahead, so brands must connect the dots of customer experience – and in a hurry – by feeding design into its machine across all major direct-to-consumer (DTC) touchpoints.

From a digital perspective, curiosity can be sparked with dynamic, personalized content that’s accented by crisp UI/UX design and complemented by responsive web hosting, all of which set the tone for a graceful customer experience that must pass the eye test upon first glance. Wireframing (or “prototyping”) exercises can establish a hierarchy of information and flow of customer journeys that closely align with marketing strategies. It lays the groundwork for marketers to be able to pivot desktop or mobile visitors into conversion funnels that ladder up to audience expectations and match the integrity of messaging that’s been echoed across other brand channels. Acute wireframing will factor in origins of the Aesthetic-Usability Effect, which outlines that people are more tolerant of (and perhaps likelier to overcome) minor usability issues when the design of a product or service is aesthetically pleasing. This should be music to marketers’ ears. The fusion and extension of design into the framework of scalable e-commerce is another indicator of marketing’s roots in design.

Whether it’s bold mission reinforcement on a skyline billboard, the topsy-turvy structure of a static bus stop display or the symmetrical brilliance of a mobile ad, brand aesthetics are always a difference-maker in customer experience.

Image Credit: doomu on Adobe Stock

Roll out the red carpet for a step and repeat banner that’s designed with chemistry. It’s a blank canvas for iterative logo placement and partnership visibility that stands frozen in time while flourishing in the limelight.

Image Credit: aleciccotelli on Adobe Stock

As long as the world spins, eyeballs on OOH media loom large. A rise in global urbanization and gentrification has paced a steady yet substantial reach for OOH advertising. Consumers are proving to be receptive to OOH, especially when stacked up against other major media.

Whether a billboard is plastering a call-to-action or cycling through a seasonal promotion, it can be designed with the cultural relevance to reverberate a mission far and wide. Visual vibrance and playful lettering can turn heads. Strategic placement also boosts aesthetic composition.

Image Credit: aluna1 on Adobe Stock
Image Credit: aluna1 on Adobe Stock
Image Credit: aluna1 on Adobe Stock

Immersive OOH extends into bus stops and subways, where audience “waiting time” is baked in and there’s a bit more time to soak up campaigns compared to zooming by a billboard.

When branding or messaging is fragmented, consumers can become disoriented by an inconsistency in experience. High-powered OOH should be synthesized by a frictionless user experience that leverages a consistent approach to styling and data visualization. Jive with the flow of recurring audiences by applying proportional and dimensional design to OOH media investments.

Image Credit: ngupakarti on Adobe Stock

It’s staggering that almost 90% of U.S. teenagers (and climbing) now own a smartphone. The combination of mobile accessibility with the aforementioned digital ad spend suggest that preliminary interaction between brand and consumer will often happen on a device.

A compelling design ecosystem is a catalyst for rhythmic brand experiences that translate brilliantly on mobile or tablet platforms. Delicate UI/UX strategy can set the stage for native advertising placements designed not to disrupt a consumer’s interpretation of branded content.

Conclusion

As a cultural rebound presses on and marketers stay fixated on on sharpening customer experience from top to bottom, all eyes are on design as a catalyst for progressive momentum.

The maturation of DTC engagement is ushering in an entirely new era of design latitude that’s a launch point for brand aesthetics and genuine interaction. Blending design concepts into marketing practice articulates dimension into that experience and stirs advocacy by underscoring relatability. Tasteful marketing is usually a bi-product of flavorful design. Instead of noise, brand messaging becomes poetry in motion.

From information architecture and scalable e-commerce systems to digital investments, OOH placements and beyond, the threads of design thinking must be woven into the fabric of marketing aspirations. Tap in from ideation to execution and transform user perceptions.

Image Credit: aluna1 on Adobe Stock