Marketing Firms vs. Design Agencies: What you need to know

When a potential client comes into our office to meet for the first time, their first question is almost always, “tell me what Inward does.” And my reply is always the same: Inward is a marketing firm, not a design agency.

It’s important to understand the difference between marketing and design, because while they are both valuable, they approach and accomplish projects differently.

But, doesn’t Inward do design?

Inward is sometimes perceived as a design agency, and for good reasons, but we do much more than that. Design agencies are traditionally lead by designers, and, intuitively, they emphasize design as the most important element of a project. On the other hand, most marketing firms are lead by marketing and advertising professionals who put the overall message first.

This is not to say that marketing firms don’t take design seriously, but we believe design is part of the overall message and solution. Design can’t take the place of a good message, nor can it stand alone on most projects. Take a logo, for instance. Many design agencies will tell a designer what the client company does, what colors they should use, and not much else. At Inward, we take a different approach.

Currently, we are creating a brand for a medical device. Before our designers had a chance to even touch this project, we interviewed the client, discussed strategy, researched competitors (as well as companies in different verticals), created mood boards, and held team wide meetings.

Everyone at Inward, from designers to creative strategists, is working on this branding project. As we break-up into our individual roles, we have a collective understanding of the client company and their goals. We feel this makes not only a more consistent project, but also a better one– hence the difference between marketing and design.

Do design agencies create ads?

I cringe when design agencies say they create advertisements. Creating an ad is not just putting a picture on something with a phone number; instead, an ad is supposed to be a single impression that delivers a single message. Therefore, a lot of thought should be put into creating an ad, not matter how small or large. Marketers and designers should be asking questions, like: 

  • Who is this product/service intended for?
  • How and when will the ad be shown? 
  • How will the viewer/target audience respond? 
  • How should they respond? 

Without the answers to these questions, designers don’t have enough information to create an effective ad– no matter how talented he or she is.

So which is better, Design or Marketing?

Marketing isn’t better than design, and design isn’t better than marketing. They are just different. They both serve a purpose, but it’s important that you know which service you need.

Don’t be tricked into letting design agencies tell you that they are marketing firms. Likewise, don’t pay for a lot of marketing work you might not need. Therefore, look for a marketing firm that can also serve as a design agency when you need it.

Inward Solutions is an Alpharetta-based marketing and advertising firm reaching targets in North Atlanta, across the country, and around the world.

We are driven by creativity and powered by thinking. We understand that every business is one of a kind, each with different needs and goals. Our job is to transform your business by telling your story in the best way possible. We do that the best way we know how– by taking a holistic approach to your unique challenges to find the perfect solution.

Inward’s strategic marketing/advertising solutions are designed to fit your one-of-a-kind business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *