Copywriters & Designers: Who Leads?

Copywriters & Designers: Who Leads?

Marketing and branding exist at the intersection of graphic design and copywriting. While the relationship between a graphic designer and a copywriter isn’t always perfect, their marriage can be conducive and even thrive with proper communication and collaboration. It truly thrives on the understanding that everyone has something to offer. Each person brings a skill set to the table, and they should be excited to learn from each other.

While words persuade, design directs, and the two arts work in tandem to create the user experience and bring a concept to life.


As a copywriter, I rely on a team of designers to illustrate my words — to create their living and breathing environment and allow them to stand out. And, with designers’ visions, the words I write will make for different experiences and emotions based on their format, color, size, etc. even though their definition and denotation doesn’t change. Their connotation, which is really what informs the user’s reaction to the words, is molded by the design team.

So, Who Starts?

There’s a common debate about what should happen first in the creative process: does graphic design come first or does content come first?

After years in the field, what I’ve come to realize is that it really depends on the project. For example, when it comes to web design, designers generally provide some sort of outline to direct where the copy is needed with word counts. But, in terms of blogs, I often write and then request the assistance of designers to create something more than just words on a digital page. Then, there’s social media posts, which are very frequently brainstormed, written and designed in discussion together. Most importantly, regardless of the project, the whole process is best performed in collaboration.

To exemplify, there have been so many times when I’ve written copy, and then worked with a designer during implementation, and that designer comes up with a copy idea that fits better for the client’s vision. And, vice versa. I’ve wire framed projects that have allowed for the copy to be more easily implemented and then designed. With technology today, there’s no reason why projects shouldn’t be produced and managed in a collaborative and open environment.

Break It Down: Teamwork Tips

An important lesson here is that people should work together without letting titles get in the way, but rather simply as individuals approaching a problem together and looking to solve it in the best way possible, granted, with the client in mind throughout. Another useful tip to build a symbiotic relationship is to work together in real time and establish very open communication. This means that you have to be okay with sharing your ideas even if it’s not in your field of expertise and come to terms that nothing in business should ever be taken personally.

As artists, writers and designers are inherently vulnerable. Part of their creations are sometimes felt as a representation of the self, but when it comes to creating for a client, it’s useful to separate your art from the task at hand. Taking the “I” out of “design” and “writing” is a useful rule of thumb!

What This Really Means…

Creative studios are full of personality and more often than not, driven by the passion of their people. When passion, creativity, and personality collide, it can either be the height of greatness and innovative thinking or produce a potentially painful pitfall.

It all comes down to realizing that truth is a matter of perspective, pride needs to be checked at the door, and the focus should be on the undeniable fact that a user’s experience and your client’s satisfaction is of paramount importance.

Breed an environment that remains open to ideas, is accepting of mistakes, and truly promotes teams working together to bring visions to life.