The internet originated as a way for academics to share information and resources – and it only took a couple of short decades for the world to turn it into a gorgeous medley of learning, commerce and cat videos.
Looking back, there must’ve been a handful of stepping stones the internet hopped on to get here. But if there’s one thing that completely transformed how we use the internet, how large it is and how much it has embedded its web in our daily lives, it’s digital advertising – a melange of design and marketing, often crossing each other in a battle for seeming supremacy.
There is a frequently unseen battle going on between these two. Designers often feel that marketers are trying to cram too many messages in an ad, or that there’s simply too much clutter, and the important information gets lost in the text. Marketers often feel that design gets too caught up in aesthetics and neglects the actual message they’re trying to send out.
And in between, the entire advertising industry is losing on an opportunity to create meaning, form and utility through an effective combination of design and marketing.
Automation might just be the solution to this conundrum.
A living organism
The internet runs on ads, there’s no doubt about it.
Google is ads.
TikTok? Also ads.
Pretty much every free website you go on (which is, like, most of them)? Ads.
Ads popping up, ads blocking your YouTube video, ads in your favourite newsletter, ads on your bubble-bursting smartphone game. If the internet’s a body, ads are the circulatory system, moving information, attention and money throughout the entire network – and marketing and design are the heart and the brain of the entire operation.
In an ideal world, marketing and design would be seamlessly tied together: a dance of function and form, building marketing materials that go beyond the transactional value the internet has assigned to everything in advertising, tapping into Ideas (with a capital I), telling stories and aiming to bring beauty and meaning together.
Alas, we don’t live in an ideal world.
Marketing needs to fulfil its purpose, and design needs to stay true to its vision.
The challenge here is to make sure both objectives don’t get lost in the noise of a billion pixels.
Cue in the machine
Ironically, the age-old feud behind the goals of marketers and those of designers might finally find its resolution – not in designers dropping the ball, or marketers learning a bit of art, but in… code. Software doesn’t have feelings to hurt, and its only goal is to follow its program from end to end – so it could be the final mediator to bring designers closer to marketing (and the other way around, for that matter).
The revolutionary rise of design automation tools, including advertisement makers, has significantly transformed marketing departments. Not only has it made it easier to create materials on-brand and quickly, but it’s also simplified the process of creating high-quality designs. It makes sense: when designers spend less time adjusting their work to a million sizes and platforms, or searching for the perfect shade to match their brand’s colour, they can focus on what matters most: coming up with ideas that go beyond surface.
In this, design tools bridge the gap between marketers and designers. It may be easy to think of them as making the creative process easier, but their real power lies in serving as a go-between for two irreconcilable goals – the need to sell and the need to create.
Automation tools help designers be better marketers by:
1. Driving better results, more often
Design automation helps maintain the same quality level in each design, every time. It also helps to eliminate user errors and quickly identify mistakes, like typos and unaligned elements. This ensures that every piece of work is on par with company standards (and marketing goals).
2. Optimising their workflows
Design automation tools help streamline the design process, making it easier for designers to move quickly and focus on the real challenge: creating unique designs that move the needle. They can eliminate some of the most tedious tasks in design, like resizing and recolouring assets so that designers can get right to the creative process.
3. Helping them create customer-centric designs
When you’re engaged in a machine with increasingly competitive rules (ie digital advertising), it’s easy to get lost in technicalities and forget that, in the end, both design and marketing have a common target audience: customers. Automation can give designers back their control to create with customers in mind, not just according to a platform’s requirements.
4. Improving collaboration with marketing teams
Design automation tools such as Creatopy can build bridges with marketing teams and make it easier to stay aligned throughout the entire creative process. They can also help move projects faster, and make sure that everyone is on the same page, keep communication smooth, eliminate back-and-forth, and drive results back to the home base.
Where do you go, oh, ad world?
To say we’re all (marketers, designers, advertisers) going through changes would be a severe understatement. Machine learning and automation tools have definitely disrupted the landscape – but not necessarily for the worse.
Sure, there’s a lot of fear of the unknown, but at the end of the day, design automation tools can change things for the better. They can give designers more time to think like marketers, from analytics to performance and back to an effective creative process.