A Little Background
Imagine this—an eighteen-year-old girl, not much of an extensive portfolio, preparing for four years and a visual arts degree at Kutztown University. The thought of anything surrounding print design excited her, so much to where she hardly gave anything related to the digital space a mere consideration.
She immersed herself in the world of print advertising, brand identity, publication design and typography, but just barely waded through the four-foot-end of the web design pool. For a few semesters, she was exposed to the importance of “mobile-first”, understood responsive web design, and even learned how to code, but was so captivated by the print realm that she hardly looked back on her potential in a digital space.
Little did she know the device she carried around with her at all times, and the social apps installed on that device, would provide an opportunity for growth later on in her career.
That girl is me.
Adaptation to a Digital Space (More like Baptism by Fire)
In 2015, my first full-time design job, post-undergrad, was at a digital advertising agency in Bethlehem, PA. Regardless of my lack of experience in web design, I thrived under the mentorship of my boss, who was a front-end developer by nature. From 2013-2015, mobile marketing was really taking off—in the form of mobile apps, digital strategy and technological innovation. According to this 2015 Mobile Year in Review Infographic, “Time spent on mobile [had] eclipsed time spent on desktop”, with mobile usage sitting at 51%, and desktop at 42%. (Ledbetter, D).
Realizing how quickly the world was transitioning to screens for information, I transitioned from thinking in a CMYK state-of-mind to RGB and pixels just as quickly.
During my three years at the agency, I learned that a company’s digital presence is just as important as their print efforts, if not more. The digital representation of their brand helps them build an online presence, acquire new customers, and convert those customers to loyal buyers, which in turn, allows those customers to become brand ambassadors for the company.
Despite all of this new knowledge, however, I still felt like a “one-trick pony” and felt I’d be seen only as such by potential employers. With the hunger to learn more, I knew I had to step up my game to really diversify my skill set and what I bring to the table.
From Agency Life to Higher Education
I started working as an Associate Graphic Designer at Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM) back in July of 2018. I came in with a plethora of design, web, and branding knowledge, but still had much to learn about marketing strategies.
With Temple being an institution where their “customers” are students (rather than an agency-to-client relationship), I had to once again adapt and learn about new concepts and deliverables, such as paid, earned, shared, and owned media, segmentation strategies, and determining the best social media and communications route for our market segments.
Having been within the organization and my team for over two years now, I have a better grasp on these initiatives and what they achieve; I’m more well-versed in customer acquisition, yield and melt strategies, and even content marketing. Once I began the Digital Innovation in Marketing program, I knew how much I wanted to elevate what I had a “better grasp on” and apply these course materials in real-time.
While I love what I do, I want to go above and beyond being a “one-trick pony” graphic designer—I want to be a multi-faceted marketing professional and live by this quote from the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ (AIGA) Instagram.
A Masterful Marketer and Designer
Now, I’m not saying I want the title “Graphic Designer, UX Specialist, Social Media and Mobile Marketer”, but I want to go into marketing strategy meetings, client briefings, and even mentor young professionals with the knowledge that I have gained from not only this program, but specifically this semester.
It is now the year 2020, and we are in a booming age of mobile devices, mobile apps, and innovation in mobile marketing. In comparison to the 2015 statistic from earlier, as of this year, “Users spent 59% of their time on mobile and 41% on desktop,” (Petrov, C). Even in this 2019 article from Pixel Union, “81% of Americans own a smartphone in 2019, up 46% from six years ago…”. In such a saturated market, I have to leverage and apply the information taken from this semester to set myself apart. I want to be the graphic designer who understands the mobile opportunity and subsequent trends; who can produce that social media ad and the responsive mobile site to which the ad redirects, curating a seamless point of purchase experience.
In a January Instagram post by Seth Godin, he says “… But real marketing, the marketing that makes things better by making better things—that’s what we need more of.” I want to start out where I currently am within STHM and grow into a new organization when the time comes. My desire is to contribute more than just creative assets, curating new social ideas for yield tactics, and even incorporate more “brand ambassador” content to attract new students. It has always been a mission of mine to create change through design, but as I become more of a marketing professional, I’m realizing the power I have to do so much more.
Ledbetter, D. December 17, 2015. Braze Magazine. “Mobile Year In Review: 14 Eye-Opening Mobile Stats From 2015 [Infographic]”. https://www.braze.com/blog/mobile-year-in-review-2015-infographic/
Petrov, C. August 11, 2020. Tech Jury. “57 Mobile vs. Desktop Usage Statistics For 2020 [Mobile’s Overtaking!]”. https://techjury.net/blog/mobile-vs-desktop-usage/#gref
December 11, 2019. Pixel Union. “22 Must-Know Mobile E-Commerce Stats for 2020”. https://pixelunion.net/blogs/state-of-the-union/mobile-ecommerce-stats