Too often, writers and designers aren’t given the opportunity to combine powers to start projects and develop ideas. As a result, not enough writers in the branding world know enough about design – and vice versa. And their work is poorer as a result. Our founder, Rob, is making a plea for change...
Jonathan Burley, chief creative officer at ad agency RKCR/Y&R, has written about the ‘The necessary demise of the creative team’ for Campaign. It’s a good read. Though it focuses on advertising rather than branding.
Jon writes intelligently about the dangers of familiarity in the traditional copywriter/art director advertising model. Over 12 years as Jim Bolton’s creative partner, he’d reached the point where he realised he and his partner ‘rarely startle one another with an idea we’ve had’. Jon changed agency soon after Campaign published his article.
Everything Jon writes makes sense. Perhaps in advertising, it’s a very good time to stretch the idea of the creative team. In branding, however, it still feels like a very good time to introduce its spirit.
From experience, the beauty of a creative team is in that moment a writer and designer lock eyes and realise. Either that their weeks of solo excavations are uncovering too little, or that they’ve revealed a nugget they hadn’t spotted until they spoke, or that there’s something so close they can taste it. Pens and pencils out, ruled and plain notepads flipped, combined thinking put to paper.
Ok, maybe it’s not that simple. Perhaps there’s something missing still.
Since 2014 The Table has been lucky to collaborate with some inspired designers. Friends like Sam Gray at Argentum Apothecary and Daniel Oparison at Paga are such excellent conceptual thinkers, they’ve gone on to become consultants, strategists and brand managers. We’d argue their brilliance comes from their ability to sit with writers (and other creatives) to challenge and further their own thinking. They understand and appreciate the craft of others.
So it comes down to education. Great writing and design in branding is the result of writers who value great design and designers who appreciate great writing. The more they know (possibly even love) about the other’s art, the stronger their thinking and better their potential to develop ideas.
We’ve named a couple of designers who fit that mould. And there are some writers out there, too. They produce work that makes you stop, makes you wonder, makes you think and makes you question. Together, these people create writing and design with a strong concept and execution – and even stronger purpose.
The more we work closely together, share our knowledge and skills, and help develop one another, the higher we can raise the standards of design and writing in this world. We’d love to get to a point in branding where, in 12 years’ time, we can write an article about the staleness of thinking in our industry – because too many writers and designers are locked in binary orbits. At that point, we can find ways to develop something new.
We’ll finish with a request to design and branding agencies:
Please bring writers into your thinking process, and sit them with your designers and other creative thinkers. They work in words – the only tool you have that everybody in your agency uses every second of every day.