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Imagine a world where a reader picks up a brochure or visits a website and remarks how beautifully the ideas, design and words complement each other…

Okay, I’m dreaming. But this opinion-forming process does actually take place in the reader’s subconscious. All the best communications have something about their look and their headlines that just cries out “Read me, read me! Do yourself a favour and see what I have to say!”. So, how can we arrive at the concept and copy working in such harmony?

One might think it a strange old world where the visual concepts chosen to depict something are all in place before the key message has been put into words. But a strange world it is, because this happens all too often. Many designers I work with actually admit the first thing they do when they pick up a new job is think about images which suit their perception of the client’s business, or their general feel for the brief.

But a copywriter, whether writing 10 words or 10,000, needs to isolate the key message before doing anything else. It’s going to dictate their headline, their intro, their… well, everything they do. Designers often like to think there’s not much the advertising world can teach them, but working with a copywriter early in the project – at the initial brief, preferably – is maybe something they could try more often.

Once a writer has digested the pile of brochures, press releases, research and PowerPoint hieroglyphics the client has handed over, they can summarise the key messages in a few lines. For the writer, this task is much the same for financial services and fashion as it is for pharmaceuticals and phones. But those few lines provide a solid basis for developing the ideal concept to make the communication work.

So all I’m saying is writers and designers could recognise each other’s strengths and play to them. The earlier the collaboration, the better the chance of concept and copy working together to create something bigger than the sum of their parts. Something that can’t be ignored.

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