LO 03.02 – Discuss the importance of maintaining a professional graphic design presence
In this discussion, we will discuss the importance of establishing a professional network and presence as a graphic designer. This is relevant to your career as a professional graphic designer because if you do not have a presence in digital spaces as a graphic designer, you most likely won’t be found by clients. Potential employers also will most likely scour the web looking for information on you to see examples of your work before considering to hire you, thus your digital presence can also become a way you might be interviewed.
In addition, when beginning in graphic design much work comes via word of mouth. By cultivating a professional network of design contacts, you have a larger field of contacts who are much more likely to recommend you to clients and keep their eyes open for projects that might be a good fit for your skills.
Graphic designers most often help others build their own personal brand and digital presence. That said, it is equally important that designers themselves have a strong personal brand including a professional graphic design presence.
The following five reasons outline why maintaining a professional presence is particularly important:
Stand out from the crowd
Position yourself as an expert
Show professional commitment
Stand out from the crowd
The graphic design world is extremely competitive. Maintaining a personal presence helps you showcase your unique abilities and qualifications. This helps to set you apart from the thousands of other designers out there. In addition, showcasing your unique abilities helps clients find what they are looking for and ensures that you both are a good fit to work together.
Position yourself as an expert
Showing that you know how to effectively market yourself and showcase your own presence as a designer increases your credibility as a designer because it shows that you know how to practice what you preach. By being an expert in your own personal promotion, clients know that they can trust you to apply the same care to their brand and needs.
Show professional commitment
Having an established personal graphic design presence as a professional shows that you are committed to your work and the field of design. A sense of stability helps to increase trust within the client relationship because clients know they can work with you long term on their brand or project needs.
Using your graphic design presence to showcase your own unique style and abilities means that you can give clients a sneak peek into who you are and how you work before they even meet you. This is very valuable because it helps to clarify expectations and again build trust amongst you and your client.
Your personal graphic design presence acts as a marketing and promotional tool that works around the clock, showcasing your skillset and capabilities. In this way, you never know who may come across your work. Other designers may see your projects, be interested, and ask you to work with them in a collaborative manner. Clients may see your projects, be interested, and ask you to work with them to develop a design piece they need. Opening the potential to these connections is key because you never know where they might lead.
The design world is extremely competitive. If you do not maintain a strong presence as a designer, you will quickly fade into the background and be passed over. On the other hand, if you consciously cultivate a presence as a professional designer you will most likely reap many benefits.
For this discussion, imagine again that you are attending a networking event with several other designers. In the course of a conversation, one of the designers mentions that they are not comfortable sharing their work with others thus they have no professional design presence, online portfolio, etc. They ask your thoughts on the subject.
How might you explain to other designers who are resistant to an online portfolio why maintaining a professional design presence is so important?
What benefits might you highlight and why would you highlight them?
How might you describe the current professional design world?
Why might someone be hesitant to maintain their presence and how might you help them become more comfortable?
For your citation, you might use articles that show examples of the importance of a graphic design portfolio. You can also find articles from experts that suggest how designers go about marketing themselves.
Your initial and reply posts should work to develop a group understanding of this topic. Challenge each other. Build on each other. Always be respectful but discuss this and figure it out together.
Instructions (if needed) to upload and embed images to the discussion: (make sure you reference all images you use)
How to embed an image in a discussion reply as a student: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-1929 (Links to an external site.)
How do I upload a file to my user or group files: https://community.canvaslms.com/docs/DOC-3145
Learning Objectives Covered
1. Identify and discuss the three tiers in the strategic planning process
Strategic planning is the process by which businesses or organizations within businesses define direction and make decisions on how to use resources to pursue this direction. Watch the video below to summarize the strategic planning process:
Overview of the Strategic Planning Process (4:30 minutes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sU3FLxnDv_A (Links to an external site.)
There are several levels of plans that are involved in the strategic planning process: The business plan, the marketing plan, the brand communication plan or integrated marketing communication (IMC) campaigns. Before IMC became more mainstream, the business plan, the marketing plan, and the advertising plan were the most commonly used plans. They were sometimes referred to as the three tiers in the strategic planning process. This was because each plan worked in conjunction with the one before to provide a comprehensive overview of the planning process.
Strategic planning that makes use of IMC or brand communication plans includes another level of plans for specific areas of marketing communication such as advertising or public relations (Moriarty, Mitchell, & Wells, 2014, p. 179).
Business plans are used to direct operations of an entire business or in the case of large companies it may be used to direct specific divisions. Business plans give a picture of the company and the environment that the company works within. Creating a business plan has several steps or parts. The part that make up a business plan are similar to the parts that make up other plans in the strategic planning process.
The firsts part of the business plan is the vision and mission statements. These statements differ in that the vision statement defines what the organization wants to be, and the mission statement defines what the organization will do. In the video below, Bruce Johnson helps to clarify the difference between a vision and a mission statement:
What’s the Difference Between Mission and Vision? (5:08)
What’s the Difference Between Mission and Vision? (Links to an external site.)
What’s the Difference Between Mission and Vision?
Internal and external research comes in the business plan after the vision and mission statement. One way to approach this research is to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. SWOT is used in many planning processes that help organizations look at both interior and exterior strengths and weaknesses. Watch the video below for an overview of the SWOT process:
How to SWOT Analysis (5:23 minutes)
How to SWOT analysis (Links to an external site.)
How to SWOT analysis
Goals and objectives are the next part of the business plan. Goals are long range and general in scope and define the financial aspects of a business. A goal could include developing a low-priced brand for a specific market. Objectives on the other hand are specific and measurable, and in business plans they usually focus on return on investment (ROI). ROI is a measurement that shows whether, in general, the costs of conducting the businessthe investmentare more than matched by the revenue produced in return (Moriarty et al., 2014, p. 181).
Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics: What’s the difference? (2:32 minutes)
Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics: What’s the difference? (Links to an external site.)
Goals, Objectives, Strategies & Tactics: What’s the difference?
The remaining parts of a business plan include: strategies, tactics, implementation, and controls. Strategies are the plans that will achieve the goals and objectives set up earlier in the business plan. Tactics are specific activities that carry out the strategies. Implementation is the actual decisions that must be made to carry out the tactics including things like budgeting, scheduling, and personnel. Controls are management tools like budgets, audits, time sheets, and quality control procedures that keep programs on strategy and that track the effectiveness of strategic decisions and implementation programs. This information feeds back into the planning process and is used to adjust future plans (Moriarty et al., 2014, p. 181).
Marketing plans are similar to business plans except that instead of focusing on the business as a whole, marketing plans are developed for specific brands or product lines. A restaurant might have an overall marketing plan but it could also have a separate marketing plan for a breakfast menu. There are six steps to creating a marketing plan (Moriarty et al., 2014, pp. 181184).
Step 1 is a situational analysis done through SWOT analysis (see SWOT video above).
Step 2 is to set objectives.
Step 3 is customer analysis.
Step 4 is developing a brand strategy.
Step 5 is to develop the marketing mix strategy including product design and performance criteria, pricing, distribution, and marketing communication (Moriarty et al., 2014, p. 184).
Finally, Step 6 is implementation of tactical decisions that carry through on the marketing mix strategy.
How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan (5:38 minutes)
How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan (Links to an external site.)
How to Write a Strategic Marketing Plan
Brand Communication or Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) Plan
Communication plans also use objectives, strategies, and tactics similar to the processes used for business and marketing plans. Just as a general goal in the business plan may become more specific objectives in the marketing plan, general goals in the marketing plan are converted into more specific objectives in the communication plan.
The major goals in a communication plan are to figure out who the audience is, what message you would like to get to them, and what tools will you use to reach them. An outline of an IMC plan is quoted below (Moriarty et al., 2014, p. 535).
SWOTs: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats
Key communication problem(s) to be solved
Key Strategic Campaign Decisions
Targeting and engaging stakeholders
Brand positioning strategy
Platforms and objectives
Key consumer and brand relationship insights
IMC Media and Contact Points
Multimedia and multichannel
Contact points, touch points, and critical touch points
Management and Campaign Controls
Evaluation of effectiveness
Other Marketing Communication Plans
The IMC outline can also be used for specific marketing communication functions like advertising plans and public relation plans. The creation of these types of plans allows for insights into the specific audience, the creation of a message strategy, and the creation of a media strategy. These plans design activities using key media to accomplish objectives developed in the plan. They will provide the detail needed to carry out the activities in a given time frame.
Moriarty, S., Mitchell, N., & Wells, W. D. (2014). Advertising & IMC: Principles and Practice (10th ed.). Pearson Higher Ed.
For this weeks discussion spend some time researching advertisements. By looking at the advertisements and information you can find about them, what do you think the advertising plan or IMC plan would look like? Questions that might help get this type of information: Who is the target audience? What is the overall message strategy? What strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, or threats can you deduce from the advertisement and other information you were able to find about the ad?
An example of this type of deconstruction is given in this Ad Age article (Links to an external site.) (539 words) that discusses a Planet Fitness advertisement that ran on New Years Eve and in January of 2016. The ad showed humorous clips of people being rejected in different situations and carried the message The world judges, we dont. Be free. This is an attempt to appeal to people who want to make New Years resolution but are intimidated by the idea of going to a gym where they might be judged. The timing of the ad is important because the majority of health club memberships are sold in January of each year.
In your initial discussion post, share the advertisement you have selected and your insights into what the advertising plan might look like.
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