Meet Our Team: Marisol, Cross Culture Design Expert
Welcome to Captura Group’s “Meet Our Team” series, a chance for us to profile a member of our team and give you a glimpse into the minds and backgrounds of the people that make Captura Group thrive. See our other profiles here.
Design is all around us, and nowhere is that truer than in the digital space. A 2014 Specific Media report stated that U.S. Hispanics alone consume 31 hours of online content monthly. Think about how many images, videos, memes, banners, and social communications per day that is! With the ever changing role of social media and mobile advertising, it’s become more important to tell stories in a visually compelling way. For U.S. Hispanics, that also means connecting design with culture.
As previously stated, the design team at Captura Group is heart and soul of our creative work. Combined with our expert team of content marketers, our digital graphic designers merge culturally relevant content with captivating images to produce visuals that break through the online clutter and demand engagement. No one is better at directing art than this month’s profiled Marisol Castro Benitez, a true leader of the creative team.
Tell us about your background. Where did you grow up?
I was born in Oaxaca, MX, but raised near the jungles of Chiapas until age 15. My family moved to Baja California when I was in high school. My high school was actually in the port town of Ensenada, just two hours south of Captura Group. Both of my parents are from the state of Chiapas, the most southern Mexican state before Guatemala. I always say I started from the bottom now I’m here.
Ha! What role does biculturalism play in your life, if any? How did that change as you entered your professional career?
Biculturalism is most notable in my musical taste. I grew up listening to music in English, even though I didn’t know what the lyrics meant or what the singers were saying. I’d spend a typical weekend cleaning alongside my mom, and she would bump music from artists like Creedence and ABBA and loved the Grease soundtrack. I never listened to Spanish music. As I grew up I was listening to Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys, and No Doubt like my friends (and everyone else in the early 2000’s).I never thought that I would be able to speak English though; I was only singing along to music I liked. I didn’t start speaking English until I moved to Ensenada and heard my peers speaking a lot of Spanglish with words that I didn’t know.
How did your background shape your career direction?
Baja is a very bicultural state; I had to embrace it. After graduating from a graphic design school in Mexico I chose to continue my career in the U.S. so I started thinking about how to incorporate my skills and my background to the American experience. My first job as a graphic designer here in the U.S. was for Chivas U.S.A. which is a fútbol company from Mexico that had just expanded with a team in Los Angeles. My work targeted U.S. Hispanics in Spanish. My second job was with a U.S. company that sold to Mexico, so it was the opposite experience, communicating an American product to Mexicans in Mexico. Even though I didn’t plan for it, all of my jobs have somehow connected with the Hispanic consumer. At Captura Group, I get to do it for national and global brands, in both English and Spanish.
Is design impacted by culture? How has your design aesthetic been impacted by your Mexican-American identity?
It’s totally impacted by my bicultural mind! For example, when thinking about how to be relatable to our consumers in a visual way, not necessarily through the content or the communication, we use little lifestyle elements and cultural insights. For example, in a photo shoot of a dinner table setting, I am mindful of the family interactions and colors in the image. As Hispanics, we generally like bright colors and are known for smiling and being festive. Those little elements need to be represented in creative because otherwise, the imagery becomes too general. I like to keep tabs on new styles, which are typically dictated by general market campaigns. Sometimes inspiration comes from other countries, where the challenge is keeping our brand’s style consistent while making it relatable to U.S. Hispanics. Staying on trend and being unique is important, but the goal is always to connect authentically with the Hispanic audience.
Do you see design trends in campaigns focused on reaching U.S. Hispanics? Can you give us an example?
I see the industry going towards a Total Market approach that is inclusive, instead of focusing on individual markets like Hispanic or African-American. Instead of developing for each individual branch, we’re seeing budgets merging into a more Multicultural effort.
What’s your advice for marketers or brands looking to reach online U.S. Hispanics through great design?
Avoid stereotypes! That is the one main thing that millennials like me frown upon. We are all humans and we are the same. Our culture and backgrounds make us a little different, but I think these are the authentic elements that we should celebrate. We have to keep it real. For the consumer, it is important that marketers see them in a way that takes notice of their unique story, and celebrates their culture.