Is design thinking part of your marketing strategy?

January 17, 2023

Brilliantly designed marketing material – whether it’s a brochure, website, pitchbook or anything else – doesn’t just happen. Developing stunning visuals that truly differentiate brands requires design thinking,1 or a strong methodology for developing creative ideas.



Applying a systematic approach to design is especially important when marketing financial products or services, given how dynamic and complex the industry can be. Here are some ways Ext. Marketing integrates design thinking into our creative process:

Collaborate to unearth business goals

The roots of all strong creative solutions stem from a thorough review of the goals a business would like to achieve through design. The review process involves all creative professionals instrumental to a project, including writers, editors, designers, and digital and analytical experts. This integrated, all-hands-on-deck approach to exploring key stakeholders’ needs can help address a wide range of factors that may shape or inspire design.

Blend creativity and industry awareness

Conceptualizing financial services requires a multidimensional lens. Along with creative expertise, this process needs to integrate deep industry knowledge. For instance, financial services organizations must remain aware of compliance/regulatory standards or uphold certain levels of transparency throughout the marketing process. If these requirements aren’t met, there is a risk of conveying a wrong or inappropriate message. Consulting creative professionals experienced in financial services can help manage these priorities and minimize the risks unique to this highly regulated industry.

Translate complexity in compelling ways

Financial organizations are often challenged by how to communicate technical information to clients. It takes wide-ranging perspectives from creative and analytical experts to come up with differentiated design solutions that use data visualization and other devices to illustrate the concepts in new, compelling ways without sacrificing meaning. One example of this could include creating a concise, engaging infographic that clearly captures the benefits of a complex product or illustrates the steps required for an intricate investment process.

Deliver a range of differentiating concepts

Concepting is a vital step in our design process. We try to avoid getting stuck on one or a few design samples. It’s wise to build a range of preliminary concepts and iterate to see what will resonate best with a given audience.

Traditionally, the financials sector has been relatively conservative when it comes to design (often using more subdued colours, graphics, branding). But that is changing. Our clients are no longer limited by these options. In an increasingly competitive environment, differentiating brands is crucial, and visuals are an important way to achieve that goal.

It’s okay to test the boundaries at this phase of your design thinking. Try providing various representations, perhaps through bolder, more unconventional approaches, to challenge your stakeholders and highlight your brands in different ways.

Test, learn and adapt design

The creative process is never static and should remain highly iterative until the best possible outcome is achieved. Once initial drafts of your design are built, you need to test them with stakeholders and adapt to feedback, sometimes across multiple rounds. The status quo, especially in financial services, is always shifting, and you might need to modify your design in real-time. There are several feedback mechanisms you can try, including A/B testing, social polls or surveys to see if you are moving in the right direction.

Ext. Marketing is on top of the trends shaping the financial services industry, and we pride ourselves on helping our clients succeed. As an integrated marketing agency, we are known for creative content, design expertise and strategic digital distribution. Our creative team loves to bring left- and right-brain ideas together to give our clients a creative edge.

Are you looking to market your message through innovative design? Ext. Marketing takes design thinking to a whole new level and can help elevate your brand.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or info@ext-marketing.com.

1Nielsen Norman Group, Design Thinking 101, 2016