Art, Meet Copy: A Copywriting Primer for Designers

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Chapter 1 How art met copy.

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In the early days.

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Writers led the creative process.

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They came up with the headline, the idea, the strategy.

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And passed it onto the Art Director, who would bring it to life with sketches and storyboards.

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To be pitched to the client by a Creative Director.

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Who typically came from a copywriting background.

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The creative revolution.

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Everything changed in the 1960’s.

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Bill Bernbach and 11 former Grey employees formed Doyle Dane Bernbach in 1949. By the 1960’s, they were leading the charge in a whole new way of working.

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Art Directors were coming up with headlines, Copywriters were thinking visually, and they were paired from the very beginning as a team–not as a successive process that started with copy and ended with design as a silo.

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Many agencies followed this path, some of which are still among the largest in the world.

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Producing some of the most iconic work of the past century.

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Since then, the classic Copywriter/Art Director team has proven time and time again to produce arresting, interesting work–proving that there are few benefits to working in silos.

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Chapter 2 So, what does a copywriter do?

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They simply write the content that gets plugged into design, right?

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A good copywriter plays a key role in much more than filling in content.

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They ensure the work is on-brand, on-message.

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They’re an integral part of the UX process, ensuring that the interface communicates clearly and translates intuitively.

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They’re active in brainstorms: coming up with big ideas, the tactics that drive them, and they help articulate the team’s ideas into succinct, punchy write-ups.

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And can sell that idea to a client.

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They help ensure you never have that awkward moment with a client where a typo ruins everyone’s day (or the account).

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Lastly, there’s an art to copy. It’s a direct connection to the audience.

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It can evoke humor, sadness, curiosity.

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And it can sell.

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“Present your case in terms of the reader’s self interest.” DAVID OGLIVY

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Chapter 3 Forging the partnership.

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How can you utilize copywriters on your project?

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1. Partner in UX/IA development.

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2. Create content, headlines, hooks.

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3. Articulate ideas & concepts as write-ups.

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4. Editorial/social calendar.

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5. Script and outline storyboards.

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6. Deck writing & content marketing.

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7. Partner in search optimization.

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8. Proof, proof, proof.

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Chapter 4 Some tips.

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1. Involve a copywriter early, establish the partnership.

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2. Get an extra set of eyes on everything.

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3. Lorem ipsum and block type alone says nothing.

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4. Be descriptive in wireframes & comps.

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5. A clear brief and communication is key.

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6. Never stop 

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“The more you know about it, the more likely you are to come up with an idea for selling it.” DAVID OGLIVY

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Chapter 5 Be a better writer.

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A lot of the writing process is like this.

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“I never get used to the fact, most of the time it looks like you’re doing nothing.” Roger Sterling on Don Draper

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“Stuff your conscious mind with information, then unhook your rational thought process. You can help this process by going for a long walk, or taking a hot bath, or drinking half a pint of claret.” DAVID OGLIVY

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“Just think about it, deeply, then forget it. And an idea will just jump up in your face.” Don Draper to Peggy Olson, Aspiring Writer

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Anyone can become a better writer.

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Online resources.

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The best way to learn? By osmosis.

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A great copywriter is able to take on many voices, place themselves in the vantage point of the audience, and influence that audience with words and ideas.

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No matter your background or title, we’re all creatives.

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“Only a Sith deals in absolutes.”

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Thanks for reading. Now it’s time to create your next great story. - @rkurfehs Learn more about us:

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