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Does Good Taste Result in Bad Marketing Design?

posted by Michael Epps Utley Michael Epps Utley
Does Good Taste Result in Bad Marketing Design

Do you have good taste? Everybody thinks they do!

Does it matter? It may not when it comes to marketing design.

Good marketing design is in the eyes of the people in your target audience. If they respond to it, it’s “right,” right?

Maybe not. You don’t want to resort to cheap clickbait to get results. It could harm the perception of your brand or jeopardize customer trust.

The last thing you want anyone to think when they see your promotional content is: What were they thinking?

This article explains how to balance the concept that good customer response wins at all costs with plain old good design and brand aesthetics.

Design Versus Performance: They Both Have a Time and Place

There are times when design should take precedence over performance. For instance, you want to select a logo that represents your brand. While you want consumers to respond to it, it’s probably more important that it communicates all the right things about your business. Internal stakeholders mostly guide the selection process for crucial brand assets like logos. Some testing may guide their decision, but ultimately it will influence their choice, not be the final deciding factor.

The opposite is true when the time comes to convert prospects into customers or deepen engagement with audience members. Response and results take precedence over high design aesthetics. When you want someone to BUY NOW, subtle imagery and color schemes probably won’t get people to act.

In this case, good taste doesn’t matter as much as what motivates the people you’re targeting.

In the end, a company should assign a creative decision-maker who can balance its brand standards with what people find compelling.

Testing Taste Versus Consumer Response

It’s critical for companies to test the tension between brand taste and customer resonance.

The ideal way to do this is through regular, limited-scale social media testing. Place several creative executions representing different visual styles into the same campaign. Keep the wording the same— just change out the visuals or styles. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn want to identify the creative that will generate the most activity among people in your target audience. The creative executions that help earn them more money through the highest number of clicks that also generate the most positive response from users will rise to the top. Less successful treatments will get shut down.

You can typically generate meaningful test results with a limited spend and number of impressions. If you’re concerned that a creative treatment in testing could negatively impact your brand, be aware that very few people in your target market will see it and will likely not remember it in today’s crowded social media space. If anything, they’ll simply ignore it if they don’t find it appealing.

This type of testing is a great way to affect change in declining brands. Business owners and other stakeholders typically cannot say no to change if it earns better results.

The Latest Research on Brand Imagery

The Content Marketing Institute recently partnered with VistaCreate to learn about social media visual content. The study found:

  • One-third of respondents rate their social media visual content as average or below average. However, 88 percent say their visuals meet their current brand standards. This shows that in many cases, brand standards prevent companies from producing effective visual content.

  • The study also tested business stakeholder assumptions about visual content versus consumers’ opinions. The study asked respondents to rank five social media ads as if they marketed the brand. The ad that the respondents ranked number one was number four—next to last—among consumers. The differences of opinion were similar among all the ads except for one which was the worst performing for both groups. This indicates that businesspeople aren’t always the best judge of what their consumers will like in terms of design and branding.

Performance Versus Good Taste: The Bottom Line

The Content Marketing Institute study shows that business owners don’t always know what visuals their consumers will respond to, and their brand standards may be holding them back. That’s why it’s critical to be brave and regularly test new creative types and executions.

Who knows? Reimagining your marketing design could result in improved results and a better perception of your brand among consumers.

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