Early indicators or a rough straw poll, you could say, tell me that what I have to say in this post could lead to a vociferous debate. However, the more I have been thinking about the subject, the more I’m convinced I could make an argument for marketing as a discipline possibly being an overlap of business and design.
Before going any further, I am referring to the conventional wisdom of associating the word business with such left brain attributes as spreadsheets, metrics, numbers, ROI and targets. And design as a loose term covering the right brain attributes of creativity, innovation, empathy, being user centered et al.
There has been much discussion, dissension and debate on the overlap of business and design – we even had an unconference on it – but as yet, imho, there has been a dearth of clarity on the subject or even clearcut examples of what integrating these two disciplines, in a whole brain way, implies. Reading writers such as Seth Godin and bloggers like Hugh McLeod, particularly their posts in the recent past, got me thinking about the subject.
Why marketing in particular?
Lets break it down logically, Mr. Spock. When we develop and implement a marketing strategy for a particular product, service or company, there have always been two components to it.
The first component is the creative aspect – everything from the ‘breakthrough’ idea that formulates the advertising campaign, the marketing collateral, the brand identity, the communication strategy upto and including the design of said service or product.
The second component is the strategic or business aspect – whom do we wish to reach, how do we reach them, how much will it cost to reach them, what would be the return on our investment [sales] as well as questions like is there a large enough revenue potential in the first place to encourage our entry into said market or spend money on a new campaign to encourage more sales.
As we can see, once we break the various aspects of the corporate marketing function down into its component parts, a pattern emerges. While the proportion of the "creative" aspect vs. the "business" aspect may differ based on the individual circumstances, it seems to me that marketing is an excellent example of where business and design meet.