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Charli Marie

The mindset mistake that brand designers can easily make

published2 months ago
4 min read

Hi Reader,

You heard that the new season of Inside Marketing Design has started right? Well today I want to share a little realisation about mindset that my interview with Pitch co-founder and brand designer Jan Martin sparked for me.

I’m also sharing the results from last weeks poll where I asked how you felt about the whole Adobe buying Figma thing… so read on!

Just because we’re not product designers, it doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for the product

I often describe what I’m responsible for as a brand and marketing designer in tech in a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way as “everything but the product”.

But when I said this to Jan Martin from Pitch in an Inside Marketing Design interview he responded with:

But they are also in the product. I mean, even if it's an empty state, for if you don't have anything in your folder created yet, we need something nice. We just didn't want like a gray void, showing up. So those are the moments where we say like, "Hey, there could actually be a nice illustration worked in."

Jan is right, dammit.

And it’s not just illustrations in empty states that we should be thinking about as designers responsible for building the brand. The product impacts brand perception in so many ways; from visual design quality, to UX, to even the features themselves (and the use cases they are built for).

With so much work on our plate, it can be easy for us to put blinders on and focus only on the output we’re generating ourselves: the landing pages, the brand imagery, the million+ sizes of ad assets… but to level up in our careers we need to take responsibility for outcomes, not just output.

Is that landing page driving conversions? Is this brand imagery building affinity? Are those ads getting clicks? These are the results our work drives for the business.

Owning outcomes instead of output is an important mindset shift to make, and a little overwhelming when you think about the scope that it entails! If you’re responsible for building the brand, it is your duty to be aware of all the different things that could impact the brand. Not just the assets you’re designing yourself, but the context they’re used in and other factors that contribute to brand perception; like copy, campaign strategy and, of course, the product.

This doesn’t mean you need to become a jack-of-all-trades to work on all of these things yourself (in fact, you probably shouldn’t) but that you should be responsible for understanding the impact these different areas have on the brand, and giving feedback when something feels out of alignment.

At ConvertKit, for example, we build the product with creators in mind. When we design a new feature we’re asking ourselves “how would a creator want to use this”. Not a small business mom-and-pop shop, not a corporate enterprise, not a dropshipper; a creator — someone building a business off the back of their own craft & influence. And when this is apparent, it positively impacts our brand and helps us to build our reputation as the email tool made for creators, by a group of fellow creators who understand their needs.

As a designer responsible for building ConvertKit’s brand, even though designing the product itself is not my responsibility, I can and should be giving feedback on the product with brand affinity in mind to ensure this “for creators, by creators” message shines through.

Making this mindset shift is a process, but you can start dipping your toes in by contributing more feedback to product designers in crit sessions, or even just reading up on what they’re working on right now.

A while ago I wrote an article about how to step out of your predefined ‘lane’ as a designer without stepping on toes of the folks responsible for the output of those other streams of work. You can read that here.

And if you haven’t listened to or watched my interview with Jan yet, check that out too and see what his thoughts on the intersection of brand and product sparks for you.

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Dispatch sponsor

Handoff more than just specs with Zeplin

If you listen to my podcast, Design Life, you will have heard me talk about Zeplin before and I'm pleased to have them sponsoring some Dispatch issues through the end of the year now too.

If you haven't heard about them, Zeplin is a tool that designers, developers and other product or marketing folk can use as a 'source of truth' for web and product projects. Instead of sharing a design file with allll the iterations and experiments, you can use the Zeplin integration with Figma, Sketch or Adobe XD to sync your most up-to-date artboards. Then you can arrange them into flows with contextual information about behaviour or styles displayed in a way that's super friendly for non-designers to consume. And if you make changes in your design tool, they'll sync to Zeplin!

Try it out for yourself to streamline your teams' workflow.

Your thoughts on Adobe buying Figma?

In last weeks issue I talked about the news of Adobe buying Figma and asked for your take. Here’s how the votes shook out!

It’s cool to see that the majority of folks are optimistic about this merger (even if less than 5% are actually excited about it), though I’m not surprised to see “disappointed and concerned” winning a large portion of the vote too.

Ever the optimist, I’m in the “don’t love this, but hopeful” bucket myself, but now it’s up to the Figma team to alleviate the (very valid) concerns that a lot of the community has and show us all that things are gonna be okay. I’ll be looking forward to following along!

Want to participate in polls like this in the future? Just make sure you’re reading Dispatch issues, as you’ll often find one in here!

Let’s end today’s issue with this big clear sign that Madeline Lawrence shared on Twitter. Haven’t all of us marketing designers wanted to do this at some point 😅

Hope you all have a good week.

Enjoy this issue? Click the heart to let me know!

💜