This week I was asked what kind of work I would most like if I could work on anything. To my surprise I waxed lyrical about my current project.
And realised it was because I have worked with the designer from the very start. So what? Well, it actually happens far less often than you’d think. It’s not uncommon for a writer to be asked to ‘give us 150 words for the panel on the home page’ where the template is fixed, the copy dictated by where images have been placed. This approach works, but not very well.
Because if you show a writer a polished design she will find fault. The front cover has a space the size of a postage stamp to fit the title and introduction, you say? No it’ll never work.
Likewise the writer who presents the designer with finished copy is likely to be met with problems. There’s too many bullet points and do you really think we have stock photography on ‘monetary policy’?
The designer starts to see the project as the writer’s work. The writer sees it as the designer’s. And stops feeling involved.
The answer is to bring the two together when the project is at concept stage – when the newsletter or website or whatever is still a glint in the client’s eye.
Lock them in a room together with the brief and large quantities of tea, and wait. Ignore the muffled cries and thumps. They will emerge with ideas, with rough scribbles and straplines. Because in that room they will have talked through their ideas, listened to each other and used their imagination.
Of course it assumes two professionals have mutual respect – if a designer says she doesn’t ‘get’ my idea for a campaign name and strapline I pay attention because the chances are the general public won’t either.
The end result can be a winning campaign. Because there’s scope to interpret the brief and develop and change the concept as it progresses. The words and images work together because the writer and designer have worked together. Why then does this seem to be the exception to the rule?