Design or Marketing - Chicken or Egg?

So, what comes first? Marketing or design? Design or marketing? One often dictates the other, or one holds the other back. "Classic chicken or egg situation."

I was reading a post this morning about the iPod Touch, and this quote struck me:

I’m a firm believer that a good design strategy expresses a product’s marketing concept, or great marketing should be a reflection of a design’s intent. They are quite interrelated, especially if a design or marketing strategy is consumer focused.

So which comes first? I think that's actually the wrong question. The title of this blog post suggests a false choice. Why do we have to choose?

I suppose by now you realize that I believe that marketing and design are more than just interrelated, they are married. Of course, when the rubber hits the road we often see just the opposite of integration. We see designs that don't accurately convey the true essence of the company or product, and/or we see marketing that doesn't tell a story and lives disconnected from the true design. We see a hand-off...one is retro-fitted to accommodate the other. We see a good design handed off to push marketers, or we see marketing copy driving design execution. And we the people are suffering for it. We are forced to wade through disjoined experiences, rather than seamless interactions.

Of course, even if integration does take place it still comes down to execution. Thinking about the above example of the iPod Touch (sorry to use Apple as an example...sort of too easy, isn't it?), which came first? The design? The marketing? Or did they both evolve in a healthy coexistence? I'd like to think the latter. I'd like to think the engineers, the designers, and the marketers were in a room talking about everything from functionality and look and feel, to how to emotionally connect with people and position the product.

I'd like to think that it wasn't on accident or by sheer luck that Apple's iPod Touch page, related emails, and in-store kiosks look, feel, and behave exactly like the actual product. I'd like to think that the seamless experience I get to enjoy is because Apple ignored the chicken or egg pitfall - they understood that both marketing and design are inextricably reliant upon one another. Just like a married couple, they are separate but act as a unit.

Josh Chambers

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Posted in Article Category: #Strategy
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