Design Is Not Art—But Both Can Strengthen Your Marketing

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Design is not art, and your designers are not artists.

While it is true that designers may create great art, or artists may create great designs, the two creative worlds of art and design are ruled by different philosophies. Ignoring this reality can quickly derail any marketing project and create a frustrating riff between design team and client. Read ahead to learn about art's and design's respective roles in marketing.

What is the purpose of design in marketing?


Design is about meeting a need, solving a problem, and finessing a rough concept into a fully-realized deliverable. 

Design is an art unto its own. In marketing, the art of design may take the form of converting a client’s idea into a physical ideal. 

In this sense, design is both objective and quantifiable. A designer starts with a set concept, and carries it through to a conclusion which can be quantifiably judged as being correct or incorrect per requested design specifications.

In marketing, design work and choices are largely based in research. Individual designs can often span media—varying from print design, to spacial planning, video production, to more. Combined, multiple design elements work to compose engaging marketing campaigns. 


What is the purpose of art in marketing?


Art aims to convey a feeling, concept, or interpretation of a subject.

In marketing, artworks are often combined with other elements—design, branding, strategy, etc.—to enhance imagery of and foster customer associations with an organization. 

For ZEISS Vision Care, leading optics manufacturer offered in thousands of Walmart Vision Centers, our team created an 8-page coloring and activity book to aid the brand in attracting a new, young demographic. 

The book's illustrations aim to interpret the science behind ZEISS's technology by conveying the message through a superhero in a fun, simple way. While these illustrations are clearly art, they are combined with several design elements: color schemes, branding guidelines, and store displays. For our work with ZEISS, we combined art and design elements to create a compelling, creative campaign. 


Art and Design Usage in Marketing

Design has narrowly defined goals and largely pre-determined results, while art relies more on the powers of perception, association, and intuition. When art and design are combined, visuals allow viewers to interpret visuals for themselves and consequently reach broader audiences.

It is clear that art and design each offer various benefits for marketing. When working with artists and designers, you must clearly convey exactly what you want. If a clear deliverable is never set, the products will never meet your expectations, leaving both parties disappointed.

It is common for clients to reject proposals without providing necessary guidance on what needs to be adjusted or what the exact design goal should be, presenting a frustrating situation for creatives. It is important to understand that you may need to guide the creatives with feedback to ensure results that are right for you.


Providing examples of a few designs you like—or do not like—can give artists and designers the guidance they need to create the perfect designs for you. Clear communication and collaboration between creator and client is essential to any successful project.

At the end of the day, the only judge who actually matters when judging the quality of a designer’s work is the client. A successful designer is one who has enough humility to know that not only is the client always right, but that their guidance is essential to successfully completing a design project.