How to Balance Creative Intuition with Marketing and Design Principles

Ashton College
4 min readJan 6, 2022


Photo by Michael Burrows

Finding the perfect balance between natural intuition and rules is an ongoing challenge for creative types and marketing professionals. Perhaps the middle ground between intuition and rules is where the most exciting innovation happens. But how do you balance your instincts with the rules that you were trained to follow? Read on to learn how to harness your marketing expertise, diligence and intuitive creativity all at once so you can produce your best quality work.

Understanding Intuition

What is intuition and how does it look or feel in the context of marketing and design? Simply put, intuition is the automatic understanding and insight people can experience without going through the process of critical analysis or conscious reasoning. Think of those moments when you feel something in your bones or down to your core, even though you may not be able to explain why.

Science journalist and author Matthew Hutson writes extensively about the nature of intuition in his Psychology Today cover story about eight aspects of unconscious processing. He explains that intuition is one of the most efficient forms of engaging with stimuli, providing you do not overthink the process. Hutson also argues that intuition can be improved upon through diligent practice. Some people are more naturally intuitive than others, but everyone has the capacity to increase their intuition. Hutson advises us to try “focused thinking not only to train our intuitive expertise over time but also to invite or avoid intuitions in the moment.”

Intuition in the Context of Design

When you work in advertising or digital marketing, your brain is constantly working to assess the look and feel of digital assets. You know that moment when something looks right or a certain colour pops beautifully in your design, even though it is outside of your typical colour scheme? Or when the word choice makes complete sense as you are copyediting a digital advertisement or blog? That is your marketing intuition, the voice in your head telling you that something makes total sense and feels right. Your intuition can also be the voice of reason telling you something feels wrong or that there is a missing element in the marketing campaign or design, even if you cannot quite put your finger on it.

Photo by George Milton

The Importance of Diligent Training

With years of experience and practice, the rules become intuitive. But when you are starting out in the world of digital design and marketing, you should first learn the best practices and commonly accepted rules. Your intuition will no doubt increase in value when it is paired with proper training and a clear understanding of design rules and marketing principles.

“The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each designer can look for a solution appropriate to [their] personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice.”

- Josef Muller-Brockmann

In a thorough digital marketing certificate program, students can learn about strategic planning, digital tactics, market analysis, segmentation strategies and data management frameworks. Similarly, a professional UX design course or program can teach you about the principles of usability, information architecture, prototyping, user research analysis and how to implement a responsive web design. These concepts cannot simply be guessed or sensed, so they require attention alongside creative intuition.

The Road to Success

Not sure where to start in your marketing training or design research? We recommend that you try the following:

Brilliance occurs when you break design or copywriting rules with intention and insight, rather than randomness or confusion. You can produce your best work through a combination of creative thinking, best practices and justified decisions.

Photo by Michael Burrows

Written by CJ McGillivray