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Leading with Design in Both Worlds

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At IDM Brand, we work with clients who are well-known and respected in the design community. We develop and activate social media and digital marketing strategies to get attention of architects, designers, installers and the end consumer As a digital marketing professional working with design clients, I was drawn to attend the 50th year of Neocon – the largest annual commercial interior design show in North America – to learn and discover new trends developing in the industry.

The greatest area of interest to me was learning about the ways in which design affects all aspects of life Design plays a major role in creating experiences, and experiences are central to the way I think about creating strategies for digital marketing.

“Can Design Heal?”
Unity Health Care, Gensler, and Sunbrella at Brentwood Health Center in the Washington DC area. Speakers Michael Crawford, Chief of Staff at Unity Health Care, and Bonny Slater, Health & Wellness Regional Leader Associate at Gensler, explained that zip code is a major indicator of overall health.

Their teams wanted to see what would happen if they took a health center in a sick zip code and provided a newly designed waiting room. They took into account factors including personal space (people want a sense of personal space and boundary), process (people want a clear process communicated through signage and space design, along with support for these processes, like space to fill out forms, activities for children, seating for pickup and waiting in the lobby, etc.), connection (people want spaces that encourage communication with areas to chat comfortably).

They took into account community feedback through participatory observation and community engagement. People were invited to share their thoughts on color and pattern, share their personal stories, and participate in a poetry station. Blues and bright palettes were strongly preferred, along with a desire for patterns that allowed for exploration and discovery over time. People expressed desire for opportunity, positive outlet, health education opportunities, and overall peace.

Community members participated in art installations including a quilt wall composed of fabric-wrapped triangles incorporating community feedback on pattern and poetry session words. There was also a macrame art installation with a form representing the neighborhood and many kinds of knots representing diversity.

Key observations show that social support is essential to overall health. However, Unity Health Care shared that this kind of intervention is not normally possible due to time and budget. But the benefits are truly awesome. Waiting rooms are often overlooked in the role of overall healthcare, but the redesign gave patients greater access to, trust in, and engagement with the facility. There was a 100% increase in communication from patients and a significant increase in enthusiasm. Patients shared the redesign made them feel better, more upbeat, comfortable, peaceful, and relaxed.

These findings on the transformative power of design are just as applicable to digital marketing as they are to the design world. The facts that people value their personal space, need clear processes, seek connection, want to be heard and understood, can and should be taken into account when planning and crafting digital marketing. The tactics and principles involved in designing the new waiting room can be showcased and reimplemented in case studies and on social media to spread the word about the importance and transformative power of design as it applies to community spaces.

“The Connecting Circle of Color”
Leatrice Eiseman, Director of the Eiseman Center for Color Information & Training and Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute presented insightful and thought-provoking information on color trends and forecasting. Color selection can be easily taken for granted. It is often taken as a given to a casual observer, but designers and marketers know that color selection can make a massive difference to experience. Even the slightest change in hue can have major implications, whether it’s the color of a wall or upholstery, or the color of a logo or landing page background. So designers and digital marketers must be equally thoughtful in their color choices. Eiseman’s talk reinforced and expanded upon these principles.

“Empowering Your Team”
Steve Hillis, the CEO of Empower Partners. He focused on leadership and his talk made it very clear that good leadership must be implemented through design. He spoke on the development of personal goals and professional goals and advocated that those goals must not be separate, but rather they must work together. One of the main takeaways he gave was burn the rule book and keep one rule – service the customer. I believe this is a point where design and digital marketing professionals can continue to improve. We can set aside outdated processes that silo us and instead take cues from one another on trends, new findings, and best practices.

Hillis focused on the humans behind the work that goes on in our firms, agencies, companies, etc. We are professionals and we seek to excel, but professionals each have unique personal needs. Recognizing professionals’ personal needs and unique strengths encourages better service to our customers and more motivated, problem-solving mindsets. He recommended leaders meet with each of their team members for an hour once a month with no talk of business. People who feel seen and personally valued perform at a higher level.

Design and digital marketing are each influenced by and make an impact on daily life in major ways. When done well, each will improve daily life, but when done well in tandem, these specialties will create solutions for a world that demands high quality experiences and seeks greater personal connection.

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