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Five Design Tools for the Non-Designer-Marketer

My post for the BCAMA, the BC chapter of the American Marketing Association.

The original post can be found here:

A good marketer knows, design is a crucial part of any marketing campaign. Design has the ability to inspire, influence, and induce an emotional response. If you are a junior marketer or in mid-career, or perhaps you’re an entrepreneur who has just launched a new product, chances are you may find yourself in a situation where you have to design something — an advertisement, a marketing campaign, or maybe your ideas require more than just words to get your point across to others. So what happens if you find yourself in this position? If you’re first reaction is to panic then this post is for you. There are five essential design tools that every non-designing-marketer should have in their marketing toolkit. 1. The Picture Tool Having an image library is essential, one reason being is that a message accompanied by an image is more memorable than when communicated alone. Thus, it’s beneficial to have a bookmarked list of stock photography sites to quickly access images. The two image libraries that I use are: Pixabay and Burst, a free stock photo platform put forth by Shopify. Both libraries offers thousands of high resolution, royalty-free images. 2. The Type Tool It’s good to have typographic options beyond the standard set of system fonts installed on your computer. Times New Roman is not new, it’s old and boring. Two platform that offer free fonts are FontSquirrel and GoogleFonts . Both provide a plethora of choices and easy installation instructions. 3. Photo Editing Tools Photo editing and other image-based software are key items. For many, free mobile and online apps will suffice just fine. I recommend Pixlr if you require a free desktop application. This is great for mobile device photo editing but can also be used as a web app. There’s a complimentary and pro version and offers, free fonts, graphics, and vector editing. If you don’t require a desktop app then Adobe offers a mobile free version of Photoshop with an option to upgrade. Adobe Photoshop Mix, Snapseed, and Canva are also great app options. For those who want a more robust professional platform and have the budget there is Photoshop by Adobe. Note however, for some, there may be investment of time to learn this application. 4. Drawing Tools Don’t worry if you’re not a member of the group of Seven or your indecipherable drawing resembles a toddlers scribble. Let me put your mind at ease —you don’t have to be an artist and know how to draw, you just have to know what apps to use! My three recommendations are Sketchbook,, The Noun Project . Sketchbook is a free digital sketchbook app that can be used across multiple platforms and comes with unlimited brushes for endless drawing and painting ideas., as the name implies, it easily allows the user to design and share infographics. It also includes templates and tips for creating infographics. The Noun Project is an app that provides users with millions of icons for a small yearly fee. I especially like the fact that the platform easily integrates with Microsoft Office and the Adobe Creative Suite. 5. The All-in-One Graphic Design Tool This is like having a three-in one multi-tool that allows you to edit images, explore type, and then combine them into engaging compositions with a couple of clicks. There are many platforms that offer templates for online and print media but the two I recommend (both are free with an option to upgrade) are Crello and Canva. Both have similar features but Crello allows to you to easily work in another language, 16 language options to be exact. Canva is a higher price point but it is also more robust for those who want thousands of options to choose from. I have a client who is launching an e-commerce site and swears by Canva to create all of her marketing material. Full disclosure, I’m a professional designer and a marketer. Am I putting myself out of business wise by sharing these tools? Absolutely not, I’m not revealing any state secrets; My client who uses Canva — I consult with her on marketing but I designed the company’s brand identity. Professional designers and Canva are not mutually exclusive, we can exist together. So I hope this list of tools has put your mind at ease and that you don’t have to have a design degree to design. However, if the thought of “making anything” creative makes you quiver, you can always hire a designer ;)


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