Copywriting vs. Design: What Comes First?

June 18, 2019 by Amanda Pearl | Project Manager

Ah yes, the unsolved question that has been deliberated for years – which comes first “the chicken” or “the egg”? Some say it was the chicken, for others, it has to be the egg. When it comes to creative processes, it can be challenging to know which needs to come first, the powerful and persuading copy, or the innovative and smart design.

Managing or working on a creative team, you face many different obstacles, challenges, and personalities. So how do you come to a conclusion on what part of the process gets started first – the copy or the design?

The answer is neither.

The creative process should be structured yet chaotic. A goal-driven plan with a means to make it happen. So, to ensure copywriters and designers are all in line with the goals and plans, the process must start with the concept.

What’s a Concept?

Before the pen hits the paper and the Creative Suite is fired up, a concept for the project has to be agreed upon. The concept is the idea and goal behind any project. What’s the message? Who are we talking to? What are we trying to achieve? These are all questions that should be answered prior to getting started.

In short, the concept is essentially the experience you want the user to have. Without a thought-out concept that the whole team can get behind, the copy may fall flat, and the design may fall short.

Sit down together, talk strategy, create briefs, breakout the whiteboards, get sticky-note happy, and come up with a killer concept that will yield a strong final result.

Communication is Everything

Once you have nailed down the goals, the story you are going to tell, who you are telling it to and why, the creative process can begin to flourish. Each department should have a clearer pathway on what the project as a whole will look like, but the communication cannot stop there.

Another age-old statement – Communication is Key. It may seem obvious and could go without saying, but it cannot be stressed enough how important communication is during the entire duration of a project or campaign.

It is imperative to take time to understand each departments personality and expertise when working through project milestones. A copywriter may not fully understand design and a designer may not fully grasp the art of copywriting. It may take working through several lengthy questions and bumping heads here and there. Be prepared to work through the good, the bad, disagreement, and compromise.

A breakdown in communication will inevitably lead to a breakdown in project success or timeline. At the risk of sounding cliché – teamwork really does make the dream work.

With that being said, it is equally important for each creative to have their own space to work through their individual ideas and processes. Finding the perfect balance between personal creative expression and team collaboration will create a flow that works for all. Set up project milestones and set aside time to touch base at each.

When designers and copywriters work together from start to finish, there’s great potential for creating a cohesive product that aligns with the goals and target audience of the project.

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