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I am new in the marketing design team, and it seems I'm the only one noticing the problem. This is an adult industry company, so there may not be that many to grasp for us to work with product designers. ( Plus we can barely see them.)

I joined as a creative commercial designer (I mainly do posters, illustration, exhibition planning, merch design and shooting storyboards), but still, I gotta do those minor tasks as the sales team says.

There's a packaging designer, a 3D motion designer, and two graphic designers, none of them are overseeing this team, not even the one who made the brand design standard. They barely talk to each other (about ideas), do tasks on sales requests, so when it comes to my creativity-requested projects, the marketing manager is used to letting the sales team discuss and decide whether they're gonna work or not, or if I should make further changes. Even something that's more about brand image not going into the market, they let sales dictate based on their liking and "experience with different sales regions". For that I'm frustrated.

I've been in this company for only one month and I graduated last year, so I'm not sure if it is my place to suggest all that. Managers seem open-minded, but I still have my concerns.

I don't know if I should take this up now or wait for a couple more months, and if this whole "sales team has more control over brand design than the designers themselves" thing is the normal route a company usually takes. If I bring this up, I gotta have the ability to lead the team myself then, I'm aiming for that currently non-existing role when I'm applying for this job.

3 Answers 3

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Should sales team evaluate brand design team's work?

Answer:

Of course not

But... in your place, I would have several points to consider and based on this generate a work plan.

Points to consider:

  • You are new to the company, any drastic change can generate misgivings
  • You are a recent graduate, which can lead to doubts about your lack of experience
  • You have started working in an already (bad or good) consolidated team, with its vices and methodology already established.

Workplan

In the question, I don't know if consciously or not, you have generated a couple of action plans:

  1. Should I take this up now or wait for a couple more months?
  2. Bring this up now (sales team has more control over brand design than the designers themselves)

My answer

Regarding point #1, I don't think it's the right option. If you wait a couple of months, not only will the sales team learn how to embed their methodology into your work, but it will also lead to even more frustration for you. Personally, I would not start by setting a period of time to resolve an adverse employment situation, for the simple reason that the problem described is not about time.

Instead of establishing a time for a possible action, study what action to develop.

From today, start developing an action plan, thinking Fundamentally of two things:

  • your profession
  • the experience of the sales team

For example, a meeting with the sales team can be held with a plan to discuss and with a space for common conclusions. This will allow you to establish a joint work plan, better organize your work, and save time.

Sample scheme

scheme

  • Must: everything that each design must inevitably have.
  • Constants: fonts, colors, logos, etc.
  • Possible: what can be added
  • Avoid: everything that designs should NOT include
  • Methodology: communication system between teams, delivery times, mode of delivery, etc.
  • Suggestions: mainly listen to everything that the sales team can contribute to the scheme
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Ugh! Frustrating! There are some organizations where sales has all the power and runs everything; there are other orgs where engineering holds all the power and runs everything. This is going to be a common theme in your design career, I'm sorry to say.

What the heck can you do right now?

  1. Understand why things are the way they are. Ask good questions and listen without judgment. Maybe the last creative leader constantly locked horns with sales and didn't listen to them at all. Maybe they took over as the key stakeholder because nobody was making decisions and it was impacting the bottom line. Maybe the head of sales is the CEO's cousin. It's helpful to understand the root cause of the politics.
  2. Build relationships. You need to get sales on your side, and believing in your vision. This doesn't come overnight, nor does it come from being aggressive, or complaining about them to everyone. It's the hardest thing we have to do, and we have to do it everywhere we go. A good first step is to find something they've been waiting on for months and just get it done. Show good faith that you're willing to be a partner. Listen and learn about what they want, need, and fear.
  3. Build your credibility around the organization. Make something really amazing for a stakeholder who is a "good partner" to show the "bad partners" what can happen if they get on your good side. Find out who the sales org listens to, and make something great for them. Get this marketing manager (and their boss) to advocate for you so you can focus on the creative side of your job.
  4. Read everything you can about managing stakeholders and difficult people. There are whole books written about how to influence people who you don't have direct power over. Read a ton of articles. Get a mentor and ask them how they handled this situation.

Good luck - you're not alone, and this will be a good learning experience for you. Don't take it too hard if it doesn't work out, you're up against a lot. But if you can make it work, you'll be more prepared for your next step in design leadership.

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OK, this is a quite particular situation. I'll assume that with all those communication issues, the chance of user testing is slim. In that situation, I'd trust the sales team over any designer: they're actually in touch with the users, so in their own particular way, they're doing the user testing I assume you aren't doing.

This being said, if they want to mess with the technical side of design (color psychology, typography, spacing, whatever), then I'd say that is not their place at all. But in terms of UX, they're somehow more knowledgeable, even if they can't put into words the reason for something using UX lingo.

In short: no company is the same, and there's not a "one solution fits all" scenario. You'll find thousands of particularities, different company beliefs, philosophy, economically driven decisions, etc.

But in this particular situation of yours, and without further information other than my assumptions, I'm leaning to let them dictate the way to go. They need to sell to make money, so believe me, they'll suggest things that will usually work (until they don't).

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