THE Creativity Chronicles

A journal of creative thoughts, content commissions I'm working on and where I'm at right now. The life of a creative copywriter.

"Creativity takes courage" - Henri Matisse

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What Came First, the Copy or Design?

February 20, 2017

I’ve always been pretty old school when it comes to this sort of stuff. If you had asked me a year ago I would have been adamant, design comes first, copy comes second.

Why? Because the designer will create something aesthetically beautiful, often with Latin text in place so you can see how it should look, how many words is the perfect number symmetrically to retain that sexy feel.

You know what it looks like so you can write to a design knowing where you’ve got space for titles, subtitles, links to consider etc.

However, despite being a definite #DesignFirst team, I think I’m changing my mind. Let me first make it clear, this wasn’t my idea but I’ve had quite a few clients coming to me with projects asking to have the copy written before they do their redesign. I was like whaaaaaaaaaaat?! But now I’ve done it a few times I can totally see the appeal.

No disrespect to designers but often the design can be focused so much on how you appear visually (obviously) that although they ask the right questions, they don’t seem to probe as deep as a copywriter does. This is probably because they don’t need to go as deep. Their job is to present you in a great light and showcase your brand.

But my job is to be you. To set the tone, to authentically be your voice. I have to know you to be you. And I don’t mean know your strengths and weaknesses in a pretty little SWOT grid, or whether you’re a Porsche or a Skoda, if you are beige or yellow, I mean like know you and see the whites of your eyes! Scared yet?

When I tell my clients they have to get courageous, the worst bit is that one-to-one with me. If anyone is going to shine a light in a dark corner of your world it’s going to be me, I’m going to be in that closet dancing with the skeleton so in short, I go to the places that the design team rarely get to visit.

Therefore when you have your copywriting done first you come out of it knowing yourself so much better, having a firm idea of what you stand for and who your audience is and that means a much more specific brief for the designer. The downside? Sometimes there’s too many words but if you work with a professional copywriter, they’ll keep it concise and pack a punch quickly. As for me, I’m more than happy to do edits once your big hot mess is being put into a pretty design so that it fits the design nicely. And the best bit? We’ll be replacing the Latin placeholder text with your distinct voice.

Dare to be different? Let’s do the copy before the design! #CopyFirst



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