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Understanding Your Design Goals

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Digital Marketing - Study Notes:

Identifying your target audience

Before you start putting together a graphic, there are a few things you need to establish. While your style guide is designed with your general market in mind, you need to know who the specific target audience is for the graphic you’re creating.

Some questions to think about are:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • Where does the target audience hang out online?
  • Are they heavy readers who prefer long articles with accompanying graphics?
  • Or do they prefer more bite-sized content on platforms like Instagram?
  • Do you want to show the graphic to existing customers, prospective customers, or both?

Understanding the context

Understanding the context in which the graphic will be deployed is essential because it affects the way it should look. LinkedIn, for example, is a professional network which caters to business and corporate professionals. If you intend to use the graphic on LinkedIn, does it best reflect your business goals considering the tone of the platform? Conversely, perhaps the graphic is less serious, even applying humor, and will be deployed to a platform like Twitter or Facebook.

Understanding the medium and format

You also need to consider the medium and format of the graphic.


Consider the medium for your graphic:

  • Website
  • Email newsletter
  • Tweet or post on Facebook
  • Blog
  • Somewhere else?

Furthermore, you should consider how your audience consumes the content. Do you attract mostly mobile consumers or desktop users? There are a lot of questions you should be asking yourself about where this graphic will go and who it will be shown to. Tailoring the content to the appropriate medium and platform will ensure it has the desired impact.


You will also need to make sure that the design or form supports the function of the graphic. Ask yourself what the overall function of the target graphic is. For example, it may be an image to support a blog intended to increase your subscribers. And while it may not always be formally stated, it’s important to ask questions, so you clearly understand the desired use. Having clarity around the question of function enables you to encourage your audience to take the action you want them to take – whether that’s to subscribe to a newsletter, to sign up to a trial, or to take some other action.

Budget and deadlines

Finally, before you start, it’s important to know what budget, if any, is available. Plus, what is the deadline for your graphics? How long you have to put them together?

Using stock images

While you can still achieve a huge amount with few resources, especially if you’re reusing existing assets, sometimes it’s faster to use or modify a stock image to achieve what you want.

If you intend to use stock images, you will need to account for the cost and time of acquiring the right images, as well as any additional licenses which may be required for the use of the image in different ways. Stock images CAN be free, but can also cost up to $10, depending on the package you go for. Free stock image sites include:

  • Negative Space
  • Death to Stock
  • Pexels
  • HubSpot’s free stock photo library
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Philippe Polman

Philippe is a digital engagement specialist with extensive experience helping clients to create and manage deeper, more personal relationships with their target audiences. In previous roles, Philippe has designed and executed international communications programs focused on internal communications, UX, brand management, media engagement (traditional and digital), investor relations, and corporate positioning. More recently, he has founded his own aviation consultancy business, which combines both his passion and experience for the aerospace industry.

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Understand the principles and best practices underpinning graphic design 
  • Appraise the design of consistent, brand-approved graphics that supports a business goal

    If you are interested in learning more about Content Marketing, DMI has produced a short course on the subject for all of our students. You can access this content here:

    DMI Short Course: Content Marketing

    The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

    You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library


      Graphic Design Essentials for Marketers
      Philippe Polman
      Skills Expert

      In this short course, created by Digital Marketing Institute in partnership with HubSpot Academy, you'll learn about the fundamentals of graphic design: color theory, imagery, typography, and composition. You'll walk through each of these fundamental elements and their best practices, including tips on incorporating them into developing simple visuals for your business. You'll be able to apply the knowledge you learn in this lesson to graphic design projects, big and small. We include links and references to free resources to help you design graphics without a massive budget or a degree in graphic design.