The Mortar Between the Bricks

How marketing binds together planning and design work.

marketing, business development


Susan Buchanan


David Witham


Brittany Coyle

While the design professional draws plans, sections, and elevations—the “bricks”—the marketer glues it together to show the benefits. This means delivering a coherent, compelling expression of the firm’s work and culture. Marketing is the soft stuff, the mortar between the bricks.

How to find someone who can make good mortar? Look for two things. First, must-have technical skills include a mastery of technology, grammar, graphics, research, logic, and timing. The marketer is challenged by a multitude of demands—the proposal, the brochure, the website, the award submission, the conference exhibit, the leave behind, the metrics, the tracking—many occurring simultaneously. Second, an understanding of people is equally important. Because outcomes depend on the input and interaction of many individuals, the marketer must be able to recognize—and enjoy—a spectrum of personalities and perspectives. Rapid change and rapid response is the order of the day, every day.

It’s not easy mixing that soft stuff. On top of the requisite technical and people skills, one must possess a huge heaping of that oh-so-crucial thing called patience. The challenge lies in making the intangible tangible. Sometimes it takes a few batches to get it just right. Rarely is there consensus on how smooth the mortar turns out. But if it’s right, it will stick.

And that’s what holds up the bricks.