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What Digital Marketers Can Learn from Frank Lloyd Wright

by: Drew Prante (@prante)
28 July 2014

You may not realize it, but as a digital marketer part of your mission is to combine form with function in a way that enables customers to tell you about themselves within the context of their natural interactions with you. You’re an architect of sorts, and your task is to design a data capture process that tastefully blends aesthetic beauty, simplicity and utility.

Frank Lloyd WrightThe master of this approach in pure architectural terms was Frank Lloyd Wright, whose guiding principles related to form and function left an indelible mark and set the standard for generations of future architects. While the relationship between architecture and digital marketing seems tangential, the similarities become clear as you dig deeper.

“Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”

The union of form and function was the guiding principle of Frank Lloyd Wright’s approach to architectural design and was instilled in him by his longtime mentor, Louis Sullivan. Sullivan later attributed the core idea to Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, the Roman architect, engineer and author who first asserted in his book De architectura that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, venustas – that is, it must be solid, useful, beautiful.

These same guiding principles should be applied to the design of digital experiences. The great news for marketers is that the technology needed to deliver these experiences is available to companies of all sizes – your vision can be brought to life once you’ve blueprinted your ideal customer experience.

Frank Lloyd Wright house“Organic architecture seeks superior sense of use and a finer sense of comfort, expressed in organic simplicity."

Organic architecture promotes harmony between human habitation and the natural world through design approaches so well-integrated with the site that buildings, furnishings and surroundings become part of a unified, interrelated composition. In other words, the physical building itself blends naturally with its surroundings. A well-designed and well-executed digital strategy adheres to this same philosophy. It’s a seamless, unobtrusive experience that creates opportunities for customers to interact with your brand in meaningful ways.

The Gold Lion-winning “Scrabble Free Wi-Fi” campaign highlighted here is a brilliant example of organic digital design brought to life:


During your next planning session, look for ways to make your interactions with contacts less interruptive, generic and/or promotional. Challenge yourself to apply the principles of organic architecture to your campaign design.

“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”

The mother art of digital marketing is experience design. Solid, useful, beautiful – follow this playbook and remember that strategically blending form and function is a recipe for creating experiences that deliver true value to your customers, leading to loyalty and advocacy. 

So next time you’re creating a new digital marketing campaign, get out your T-square and drafting compass and start architecting the beautiful, functional experience that you’d want as a customer.

Related Resources:

1) Ebook: “Ultimate Guide to Assessing Your Digital Marketing Program

2) Blog: “Does Your Digital Marketing Strategy Rock? 3 Questions to Ask

3) White Paper: “2014 Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study

Frank Lloyd Wright portrait by Al Ravenna, "New York World-Telegram" photographer. House photo by Terry Way.




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