Working with design and copy

gray double bell clock

Here’s a trend that needs to change.

Too often, designers are expected to work in a vacuum. They are told, “Just complete this,” and they don’t know what is the right way or wrong way to go. They just end up throwing darts against a wall. Then, when they miss the mark, I go back and I think, “Why did they not get this?” They didn’t get it because I gave them nothing. This is where I see where I went wrong.

Messaging and design

For me, every time I was clear on a messaging platform, and gave my designers something like this to work with, the process was exponentially easier. Giving them something like this does wonders to lessen the complexity, spark new ideas, build creativity, and cut down on revision time. If we were building a wall mount, a film, a stage experience, an environment; every time we had a messaging plan together, the designers knew what to do. They came up with ideas that were focused, and we connected on a level that made the process so simple.

Fixing your marketing campaign

I saved myself weeks of crazy by just taking a few days to come up with this plan. The truth to all this should be clear: why build a design focused on one thing when the messaging is saying another? We can save hours and hours of design time and revisions if we just get people on the same page. 

Expectations of design

Why do we expect designers and account managers to be mind readers? I think we don’t admit often enough that we don’t know what we want. And instead of doing the work for ourselves, we ask design to do it. Instead, if we went back to the source, learned more about the client, figured out what the story and the message was, we’d be in a much better place.

It starts with us, is what I’m really saying. Because when we know what the message is and we know what we’re doing, we have a confidence that permeates throughout the entire experience. We know what works, we stand our ground, and we bring people along for the ride with us. I think most disagreements and wrong turns and poor meetings stem from you, the creative, not knowing the right way to go. You didn’t do the background work, and now everyone is flailing with nowhere to go but down. It all starts with us.

Collaborating with a copywriter

A messaging matrix can be a valuable compliment for the writers on your staff, too. If you’re writing it yourself, then use a messaging matrix to build the script, write the speeches, and even write the invitations. For the copywriter you’re working with, hand them the matrix and see what they can do. If they know their stuff, they’ll be able to take this and run with it.

With messaging in place, with it broken down into these little compartments, they can begin to add thousands more words to what you have already created. They understand what’s right, what feels real, and how to carry out your vision.

Every copywriter is looking for help. Don’t just give them this blank slate and tell them to work their magic. That’s the worst. Instead, give them a matrix and help them see through the mud. You will be rewarded with clarity, focus, and beautiful words.

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