student-run marketing firm at Stephens College, Columbia, MO

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Design for the Non-Designer

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As an Account Executive, I spend countless hours flexing my organizational muscles, practicing the art of an effective communicator and developing strong, strategic plans. This is where I thrive. However, sometimes it is easy to feel envious of the Creative that is creating concepts, designing the materials and using creative muscles that I assumed I did not have, until recently.

This semester, many members of our team began one of the final steps in our career at Stephens College: Senior Portfolio. Senior Portfolio is a class to prepare students within marketing, design and event management for the outside world, through the creation of branding materials, a physical portfolio, a digital presence and the opportunity to do in-depth research on our separate job markets.

You might be asking, “So what does this have to do with design?” The answer: Everything. Many marketers and event planners were thrown into an ocean of design, and our only option was to swim (because you don’t sink during your final semester). We are now halfway through the semester, and are finally feeling confident in our abilities. With this lesson being learned the hard way for us, we want to throw you a life jacket to make sure you swim as well.

Whether you want to start a blog, brand your Instagram like a pro or simply lend a helping hand to your creative counterparts, this list is for you.

Take some time to recognize the power of your inner creative.

Valuing my own creativity is hard, and I am sure that many other accounts can agree. When the most extraordinary, innovative designers are sitting right next to you, it is easy to forget that you are creative too. But, we are creatives, each and every one of us. Brene Brown says it best, “There is no such things as creatives and non-creatives, to be human is to be creative.”

With that thought in mind, think about the projects you completed in the past. When writing a marketing plan for a new product, you were required to research the target market and dive deep into their minds, isn’t that creativity?

We each possess a creative spirit, but for some of us it is a bit more difficult to gain unrestricted access. Complete exercises that force you to tap into that zone. It might seem silly at first, but this is the first step to creating something unique.

 

Ask questions.

Maybe you work in a marketing firm and have a creative resource in the cubicle next to you, but even if you don’t, do not fear. While typing each question into Google is a great resource, here are a few tried and true websites that do not require you hours of internet excavation just to figure out how to add a color swatch.

Creative Bloq

AI Vault

Adobe Support

Lynda Design

 

Don’t be afraid to “cheat” a little.

Tools are what make a designers life easier, so do not feel like a cheater when you use tools that benefit you. Firm Director, Kimberly Doman, recently shared two of these amazing resources with the portfolio class, and many of us have used them since, designers included!

Adobe Post is a free app for your iOS or Android device, allowing you to create beautiful social media images in a few short clicks.

Unsplash is a collection of free high-resolution photos that can be used to create the most beautiful web banners, or even in Adobe Post for the creation of the best social media graphic ever. Not sure yet? The banner for this post was created using an image from Unsplash.

 

Be willing to learn a little more every day.

Subscribe to new blogs, put effort into who you follow on Instagram and remember to also focus on further developing your own talents.

As people in the marketing world, we all follow tons of blogs to keep up with the trends. So instead of offering you my favorite blogs, I offer you this tidbit of advice: read it all. Even if it doesn’t relate to what you do within your agency, read it. When I started putting time and effort into learning design terms, I became better able to help my Creative partner during our projects. Even if you still can’t figure out how to create a poster, at minimum you will know  what your partner is saying when she starts talking about font weights.

If you keep this all in mind, we are sure that you can fool someone into believing you are a designer, even if it is just by creating a banner for a blog post.

Have any tips or tricks for non-designers? Share them in the comments below!

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