If you look at a dozen design studios—whether it’s an interior design studio or a logo maker agency, you will see that apart from their aesthetic, they also have a way with words. Their communication and story presentation are top-tier too. In addition to that, you can see them everywhere, on websites, in forums, on social media, and on park flyers.
They are constantly talked about in hashtags and their designers are popular and the go-to of big brands and organizations. Want to replicate such a design studio’s success? Well, who doesn’t? The catch is that before you achieve that level of brand penetration, you might have to do some sneaky and tricky marketing techniques. Some require a lot of resources and others are cheaply smart.
Here are some of the best graphic design marketing ideas and techniques you should incorporate in your brand awareness and brand recall campaigns, as well as advertising and customer service initiatives.
Everyone loves free things. For visitors of your websites or social media pages, getting free things is worth the revisit — or more importantly, an email subscription or a purchase. Now, the freebies don’t have to be expensive and effort-laden. It can be just a photocard of your recent digital piece or a collection of your summer stolen shots.
It can also be a zero-cost guide on how to combine colors in Photoshop or how to outlay two images on Illustrator. Of course, freebies have to be related to your design products and services, so they could experience a tiny bit of your work for free and could come back to pay for more.
You can upload these freebies on stock photo websites and make them attributable to your brand. Or you can upload them on social media pages or as an exchange for an email, like, or share.
A better way to ramp up your online presence is to be a leading voice in online communities and forums. Facebook nowadays thrives because of its groups. Find a place for your design studio brand to make some noise. Of course, make sure you have the necessary skills and experience to talk about things that others might find valuable.
Reddit is also a good place to sow seeds of inspiration and influence. Search for a group where members usually ask certain questions about graphic design in marketing, including tips about visual content marketing and choice of graphic design software. And find time to answer one or a few queries. Some moderators also allow posters to include their website and socials at the end of their posts so it’s a good marketing strategy. Not to mention, members of such groups are potential buyers of your services given their interests in your niche.
To boost people’s awareness of your brand, take the time to join a design competition. Even if you don’t win, viewers of the competition might still consider your design and visit your website for more information. So, it’s really a win-win situation. And if ever you win, you have the bragging rights to post it on your socials and other platforms. Better opportunities will knock and your brand is more likely to receive far more engagements, conversions, and conversations that you are likely to monetize from.
Competitions are also an opportunity to elevate your team’s competitive edge. Your designs will come out a lot better, more effective, and more engaging if they are constantly compared with visually-engaging images and products. There are many ways to join competitions, and aside from the added marketing boost, the consolation prizes are sweet. You can try design competitions for architecture brands, graphic arts, painting, web design, and product design.
If you are not keen on joining contests, why not create your own. Though it might take a little bit more planning and budget, this will garner more interest and traffic to your site, provided that you also marketed this competition on social media pages, and other platforms.
Additionally, user-generated content is a big thing in marketing nowadays. It’s the kind of content that is created by users in favor of your branding. This will lead to others making your brand appear more memorable, trustworthy, and credible with its creativity, insight, and variety.
Your brand will come off as more welcoming and popular too. Design contests enable you to pull interested users and potential customers to create content for you and play around with graphic design marketing ideas, which in the case of contests, in exchange for a prize or popularity, or platform.
Nowadays, a simple website portfolio that lists your brand creators, creations, and experience is not enough. Everyone has that. To stand out, you need to level up the performance of your website portfolio, especially in the case of design brands. Design enthusiasts and audiences are keen to stay on a website that offers a fresher experience. Take a look at the following websites, there’s a whole lot going on. The cursor is not as usual. And the colors and facing in and out experience varies by page.
Some design studios create a game-like environment where a character moves diagonally and every phase shows a different set of information such as the artist's bio, the experience, portfolio, and more. Others do not rely on the traditional vertical scroll but instead incorporate lots of arrows to indicate where to go next.
Dressing up your website is good for marketing because design customers are creative people and they usually get bored of the usual portfolio views. To instigate more shares and conversations around your brand, you need to think creatively.
In the age of virality, most content that piques the interest of online consumers is more likely to go viral. One fun thing to do as a design studio or a designer is to redesign some famous logos, brand materials, and images. Redesigning enables you to demonstrate your creativity while also gaining traction because of the original design’s popularity. People love seeing different takes of some popular images such as the Mona Lisa, The Scream, the logos of McDonald’s, Starbucks, IKEA, Apple, Google, and many others.
By creating these viral-worthy images, you get to showcase not only your skills but also the capability of your whole design studio team to think outside the box, be funny, and playful at the same time. Upload this content on your websites and social media pages and allow a storm of comments for much better engagements and brand awareness.
Of course, design studios are pretty much expensive to hire. Only well-off brands with a heft budget can hire a design studio to do much of the branding or the marketing. But not all design studios are established too. Some are just taking baby flights. While no doubt they have very good talent, taking a design brand off the ground needs so much more than talent.
One of these requirements for a successful design studio is an extensive portfolio. If clients are sparse, extend your creative hand to marginalized and resourceless communities and organizations. For example, create a logo for a tribal community’s Facebook page or organize color palette options for a wildlife protection organization or for a kids’ feeding program.
This way, you not only showcase your offbeat graphic design marketing ideas and skillsets but also your charity and availability. Not to mention, you’re likely to gain the hearts of online communities and potential buyers with your pro bono works.
Many famous graphic designers have already pointed out that referrals are still the most effective and lucrative way to get clients. But referrals can only happen if you dedicate some time to networking. Why not join in events, forums, and many other designer-relevant places to ramp up your presence. Besides, a good business card and a good old self-introduction are a lot better than online marketing. And with face-to-face, trust builds easily and quickly.
Events are also a nice place to widen your studio team. They’re not only perfect for gaining clients and customers but they’re also incredible for hiring awesome employees as well as sharing creative graphic design ideas.
Although marketing will fairly improve your brand, it is the quality of the design and services you provide that will make these customers stay. Happy customers are good marketers themselves. They are able to effectively share their experience with people who are more likely to trust them.
But then again, for a starting design studio, all these cannot happen if you don’t position your brand well. That is why it is difficult to compare marketing vs graphic design, as they are both essential elements just like the products you offer. With competitions left and right, it’s vital that your identity is attractive and alluring enough for people to not only know you but also get up close and engage with your content.