Design Persona vs Marketing Persona - differences and similarities


3 min read

Posted by Claire Mulholland on July 02, 2020

Design Persona vs Marketing Persona - differences and similarities

Using personas during the development of a product is a method that has been widely and diversely used in various industries since the 1990’s. Teams use personas in diverse ways to gain a greater understanding of their audiences.

In order to bring clarification to the landscape of personas and distinguish between the Design Persona and the Buyer Persona, in Arekibo we brought the UX/UI design and marketing teams together to align on our understanding of what we mean when we use the term ‘Persona’, how we create them and why we use them.

The main point of difference between our use of Persona between the UX and Marketing team is best expressed by adding a smaller qualifier – for the UX team we talk about Design Personas and in the marketing team we talk about Buyer Personas.

We have already discussed the Design Persona and Buyer Persona earlier, so in this article we are focusing on similarities and differences between the Design and Buyer persona in our work at Arekibo.

User persona and marketing persona similarities

1. Persona creation

It turns out that both marketing and UX personas are often built around the elements of the value proposition canvas. Both sides are interested in learning about goals, jobs, frustration, needs, pain points of their users. Persona profiles are then filled in using an extensive research of people with relevant profiles via interviews, statistical and other quantitative and qualitative data.

2. Work calibration

Both teams use personas to calibrate the work. For the UX Designer personas often suggest new product features. For the marketer the Buyer persona tool helps to adjust your marketing strategy by prioritising certain activities over the others. Product development process is iterative, and whenever a new question comes, the teams turns to personas to find answers.


1. Buyers vs. users

The main difference that we found was that Design personas represent the users of the product. Buyer personas, however, represent the decision makers, who will not necessarily be the end users of your products or services. Design persona engagement ends when the user is satisfied with the product. Buyer persona engagement ends when a prospect represented by the persona has enquired about the product or with company product procurement.

2. Updating the personas

We learned that teams have different approach on updating the personas profile. In UX, user personas are never fully complete and always developing, while in marketing Buyer personas are set for a certain period, i.e. one year. That means that for this one year all marketing activity will be aimed at these personas. The Buyer personas’ profiles will be updated or replaced with the new ones in the end of the year, when deciding on next year strategy.

3. Areas of use

Another interesting discovery regarding areas of use. The UX team used user personas mostly in relation to developing digital projects (e.g. website) or digital strategy. The marketing personas, however, are used for the whole range of marketing activities, from digital marketing campaigns and content planning to real-life events, webinars, case studies and insights.

4. Objectives for teams

The most important objective of the UX team is to improve the quality of the user’s interaction with and perceptions of your product and any related services. The UX team focuses on creating a user-friendly and smooth design experience for end-users of a product. The objective for the marketing team is not only to make potential buyers happy with the content quality, but also to encourage them to engage with this content and eventually buy.


Reviewing the use of the persona tool in each team highlighted some similarities and also some differences. Our UX team has been successfully practicing using that tool designing digital products and strategies with our clients. While the marketing team have been using it to create the content, that would be engaging and valuable for the people, represented by the Buyer personas.

Regardless of the variations in the ways and areas of use, both teams believe that the use of a persona set should not be limited to a single project but any opportunities to use these for related projects should also be taken. As a very powerful tool that helps businesses achieve their goals, it should be used more often by top-level management and strategists of the firm.

If you're looking to create personas or develop digital strategy to help maximise your budget to focus on the right types of problems or opportunities for your users then contact us.

About the Author

Claire Mulholland
Claire Mulholland

Claire is a UX/UI designer who joined the team in 2020.