Words are my favourite visuals
That was my why.
Why copywriting? A couple of months ago I spoke to final year students on the graphic design course at Falmouth University. It wasn’t too long ago I was in their shoes, eagerly waiting to be thrust into the world of design - as a designer. However, dreams change. Now I’m here, at DesignStudio as a copywriter. Crafting words and ideas instead of images and graphics, to create brands with a Meaningful Difference. Crazy.
How does one make that leap?
There’s a whole world of jobs, practices and disciplines that go into the process of building brands. Whilst I love design, I understood that I wasn’t supposed to be a designer. But I also knew I wanted to work in the design industry. Afterall, design graduates become designers, right?
Communication is at the core of what we do when it comes to branding. I believe words are as much a visual communicator as any image, graphic or photograph.
People often ask why I didn't study English or advertising after realising my passion for copy. The simple fact is that design made me a better writer. Without first designing I would not be a copywriter today.
An old tutor of mine would say; “it’s just text and images, Peggy. Text and images”.
Too simple, right? I got the images part but I didn’t get the text part. Wasn’t it all an image?
I was using type frivolously like every other fresh blooded designer at one point or another. Sticking meaningless jargon onto pretty images and graphics. But until you’ve slaved away in a letterpress studio for hours you’ll want your words to be the right words. That’s when I first realised the true power of ‘just text’.
Design shares many parallels with copywriting. Studying Graphic Design allowed me to understand the process of creative thinking and idea generation. It showed me the power of communication through connectivity. Connecting text and images.
My output and executions just happened to lead with words. But the process and thinking were all rooted in the same principles of design. I was never too concerned with grammar or linguistic rules. I was much more invested in the idea. The culture. The expression. And above all, communication. I learnt quite early on, even when there are no words on an image, it sometimes still takes a copywriter.
Words are intrinsically visual.
If you read the word ‘chair’. Instantly, an image of a chair appears in your head. Choosing words (and even not choosing them) as carefully as a designer chooses colour or typography, is integral to the brand. You’re creating a visual image that your audience must connect to. Every world will lead them to an image. Design makes us look. Copy makes us read. But together they make us see. That’s what visual communication is all about; allowing the world to see.
The truth is I thought training in design put me at a disadvantage. Now I know it’s my biggest asset as a copywriter.
“Copywriting is writing that sells stuff, describes products or gives a personality to a brand, business, or organisation” - TJ Rees (Campaign Director DesignStudio)
Anyone can write.
Many can write well. But only a few can write copy. Copywriting isn’t just taglines or headlines. There’s a breadth of work that needs a copywriter's skills. Writing for brands involves so much more than you’ll ever see. From strategy, right through to guidelines, we touch every part of the process. There’s always a story that needs telling or an idea that needs selling.
In my short time here, I’ve already worked on everything: from naming, campaign concepts, brand guidelines, tone of voice, taglines, scripts, web copy, things that don’t even need words, and my favourite – manifestos.
What I’m beginning to discover is that words have no limit of where they can go. And that’s quite exciting.
I can imagine a number of students are going through the same process right now. And with the uncertainty of the times, it can’t be easy. So I shared my story of who, when, how and what got me here today.
This is what I told them:
Know some people: Finding the right people is everything. People whose career journeys resonate with you and where you want to go. Connect with other professionals who believe in your craft and are willing to invest time and resources to help you out. You’ve heard it before and you’re going to keep hearing it. Network, network network.
Believe in yourself: If you don’t believe it, no one else will. You’re not just selling your work, you’re selling yourself. Don’t be afraid to challenge your tutors on what projects you want to do or keep in your portfolio, only you know where you’re going. Choose what reflects you and your craft best.
Imagination. Storytelling. Curiosity: That’s my how. Process your craft and craft your process. Execution isn’t everything. You’ve got years to master that. Find the core things that drive your creativity and then keep pushing and testing them.
The design industry and design education in general have a responsibility to the upcoming generation of creative thinkers (which I’m still very much a part of) to show the possibilities their degrees bring.
DESIGN IS DIVERSE.
The simple fact is you don’t have to be a designer to work in design. Nor do you have to be a designer because you have a design degree.
Find what works for you: design is for anyone who chooses it.