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What is Design Strategy?

There are many definitions depending on discipline, but here is how I define it for strategic communications:

Building a visual language that connects a company’s vision and messaging to their marketing deliverables. This includes their brand, identity, web development and collateral materials. So often websites and print materials are designed without deep understanding of what an organization is and what it is wanting to become—the materials lack an authentic vision and end up looking “templated” (ie. this is what a “social activism” logo looks like, this is what a “medically related” NGO or foundation looks like, etc.) The design “strategy” is not there and even if a consumer can’t verbalize what is missing, they still recognize it is not as authentic as it could be.

Val Neumark Mickela - director of strategic initiatives & education, founder, headshot

Val Neumark

Val is a brand strategist, educator, facilitator and coach focused on using communications, design-thinking and technology as vehicles to advance equity. Through partnerships and collaborations, Val endeavors to co-design anti-racist, anti-oppressive spaces and tools that facilitate strategic-thinking, community building and sustainable growth for non-profits and social impact organizations.

Val has a Bachelor's Degree in Visual Arts & Media from University of California San Diego and a Master's Degree in Education from Pepperdine University. A 2016 recipient of Pepperdine University's inaugural 40 under 40 Award. In their free time Val plays soccer, loves to hike, watch baseball and read Mia Mayhem books with their daughter.