Observations from a Solo In-House Designer

Social media marketing, ad creation, marketing strategy, branding, website maintenance, event marketing, content creation,  internal communications, copy writing, internal and external newsletters, marketing analytics, and tech/app research. Those are just a few of my main responsibilities.

So, here’s what I’ve learned in one year and a half of being a unicorn.

So Much Room for Activities

When I was hired, I immediately made a list of things that, from my design perspective, could be done better. A website overhaul, consistent social media marketing and a company tagline that tackled incorrect public perceptions were a few of my priorities. I knew I was asking for a lot of trust by assuming nearly 100% control over these aspects of the business, but I was also confident that I could bring the company’s image into the 21st century while correcting major misperceptions.

I was handed the reins and told to run with it. I dove head-first into the learning process that is taking a company from the 1990's to 2015, as painlessly as possible. Of course, there were growing pains, but watching the company come to the light and having a firm hand in the process has been (and continues to be) incredibly rewarding.

Less Room for Peer Emulation

I love learning new skills and live by the mantra “say yes and figure it out”. And while the internet offers many communities for professional development, it’s very different from the advancement that comes from peer emulation.

Seeing how other designers troubleshoot and execute design solutions is a catalyst to professional development. Having someone, who understands company processes and design principles, to brainstorm with often facilitates greater concepts, hence the old adage, “two heads are better than one”. 

In addition to the professional development that accompanies peer emulation, some days, some make-the-logo-bigger moments, I can’t help but think “Where my peeps at?” The solidarity in a sideways glance of an inaudible groan can offer enough solace to push through these cringe-worthy moments.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Working as a solo in-house designer is a double edged sword of sorts. The things that could be different are the things that make the job so unique. It’s all perspective. I’ve learned so much in the last year and a half and looking back, I can tell you with confidence, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yes, it’s chaotic at times, but it’s also challenging and fulfilling. I prefer overwhelmed to underwhelmed and chaotic to lackluster. I love the rush that comes from a long to-do list and a limited amount of time. And I savor the extra sweetness in a glass of wine that only comes from an “I don’t know how I did it, but I did” kind of day.


Glamorous Unicorn

Okay, so maybe being a solo in-house designer isn't quite ^that^ glamorous, but being described as a unicorn certainly is.  To my fellow unicorns, my hats are off to you.  Keep being the magnificent and magical beings you are. 

And when you hear stories of the one-person-teams out there, say a silent prayer for the unicorns of the world.