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I’m the Art Director at Stensul. I bring our brand to life through imagery. We use Stensul at Stensul. With it, I don’t worry that an email will go out the door off brand. That’s because I set up the guardrails and permissions, so it never happens. This lets me focus on the brand strategy for templates, social media, or corporate presentations. And, it gives me time for special projects that place demands on my creativity. Below is content I’ve found helpful for creatives. If you have any design related questions, I’d love to chat.
By Caroline Iraci
I’ve worked at big companies, small ones, and even marketing agencies, serving as a marketing manager, a product manager, and, for the last 15 years, as a designer. Now at Stensul, the maker of the collaborative email and landing page creation platform, my responsibilities include all visual branding for the company – in all manner, shape, and form.
While I work remotely just east of the Rocky Mountains in a Denver suburb, I do not work alone. I’m very much a part of the team developing marketing campaigns that drive prospects to learn more about Stensul. I especially enjoy coming up with visuals or designs that amplify the message behind a program, whatever it might be. Not surprisingly, a tactic we use often is email. Email consistently delivers an ROI of around $40 for every dollar spent, no matter the product or service. It’s a marketing marvel.
However, creating emails for most companies – large or small, B2B or B2C – takes a lot of time and draws the attention of designers like me away from focusing on projects that demand my attention and creativity. I’m never happy about that, but it happens. As a designer, you know that.
One of my concerns with how most organizations produce emails is the amount of time spent on revising, not creating. Let me explain by way of example.
Before coming to Stensul, I worked with an ad tech company. The marketing manager for one of the products sent my copywriting partner and me a 20-page document. It contained practically everything about that product, who might buy it, and why, plus messages the manager thought would work for an email campaign.
We developed concept layouts and shared them with the manager, who sent us a lengthy list of must-make changes. With agreement, the so-called final layout went to a coder who created the email in HTML. From there, it went to the Email Service Provider, a platform that took the code and turned it into a marketing email proof. As with the concept layouts, there was plenty of back-and-forth, lots of revisions, and little in the way of creativity. It wasn’t uncommon for there to be more than a dozen proofs, each needing to start at the beginning of the review process. This certainly did not make me happy.
That sort of mind-numbing experience happened lots more than I care to remember. I spent most of my time fixing, not designing. Sometimes I couldn’t fix an email, especially one built by someone unwilling to wait for my skill as a designer. When that happened, I had to act as the brand police. I had to control how people handled brand elements, like the logo, color palette, and imagery.
The email-building process I outlined, and the policing of the company’s brand took a startling amount of time away from my being able to be a designer.
In comparison, the Stensul platform contains robust, programmable guardrails that prevent cowboys from producing designs that don’t comply with brand guidelines or regulatory requirements, and all too often, they’re just plain bad. I don’t have to worry about emails being off-brand. If you know how to drag and drop, you can create high-quality, on-brand emails in Stensul. And I don’t have concern myself with whether or not it’s brand compliant.
Along with that, Stensul lets you avoid reinventing the wheel whenever an email is needed. The platform comes with pre-made templates and permission-based modules that make setting up the essential structure of the email as easy as making a few mouse clicks.
For emails that deal with recurring events, Stensul holds content you’ve created to reuse again. The platform has an image library that lets you easily change an image. Get to it with a mouse click or two.
Not having to be the brand police or get mired down in a seemingly endless review process lets me focus on projects that demand I bring out my best as a designer. Stensul helps me here too. I can show what an email will look like by building it in the platform, with whoever needs to see it so they understand it just by looking at their screen. No waiting for a proof to get the “Now I see what you’re getting at.”
Each time I do something in Stensul, Its simplicity, and flexibility amazes me. If you can conceive a creative idea, you can execute it in Stensul. Further, a designer can create hundreds of email renditions in a matter of hours, a sure sign it enhances your ability to ideate. And you can do all that without spending days in user training sessions.
Because I’m no longer a member of a brand police squad, no longer stuck in a seemingly endless review process, and able to create portfolio-worthy emails in minutes, I have the time to apply my design talents as best as I can. It’s all because of Stensul. It lets me be a better designer, and a happier one too.