It’s a question as old as time—or, at least, as old as modern industry. Design and copy are the two pillars that form all high-quality, consistent marketing and, as the proverbial yin and yangs of the marketing world, you can’t have one without the other.

However, this bears the question, which comes first and why? Just like the chicken and the egg, it’s nearly impossible to decide which comes first and how one process could be more important to begin with. Let’s try to crack into this age-old mystery. 

The Process of Creating Designs

When creating a design, it’s all about achieving your goal in the most visually appealing way possible. Whether it’s creating business cards, a brochure, a pamphlet, a flyer, or even a website, your design is what catches the eye of the consumer first. 

Many companies tend to start off with their design elements and then focus on copy after the fact. Although this may seem like a good approach, design and copy must work together to make your brand identity whole. 

Although you must begin with one, you must remember to take the opposite into account. Balance must always be kept. If your design takes up 60 percent of your time and effort, your copy is sure to only reflect 40 percent, which is less than ideal. 

Similarly, if your marketing department is split between copy and design, without any connection between the two, you may think 100 percent is dedicated to both sides, but this tends to be false. Because the vision is not the same on both sides, you will likely end up with a copy product that is far different than your design product. 

If you choose to focus on design first, the process of creating your designs must also correlate to the process of creating your copy. As we discussed before in our article What Your Graphic Designers Need to Hit the Mark, “Your content doesn’t need to be final for your first meeting [with your designers], but you should start with an inventory. Identify what’s available and determine what needs to be created or acquired to support the project. Think of it like cooking: if you’re going to prepare a great meal you need all of the ingredients.”

The best way to create your designs is to begin by having a basic idea of what both your design and copy will look like, taking your brand identity into account, and then focusing on the latest design trends that fit with your brand to formulate the best foundations for your copy to be built upon. 

Related: How to Write a Creative Brief Your Designer Will Love

The Process of Creating Copy

Just like design, creating copy is all about getting a message across in the most appealing way possible. Although design focuses more on imagery, copy focuses on appealing to a consumer’s sensibilities, interests, and overall personality. 

However, because design tends to be the first thing people notice when scrolling through a website, looking on a social media account, or walking down the street, it is crucial that you take design into account when creating your copy as well. 

Your design should function as a platform for your content to stand upon. With a weak platform, your words are sure to collapse on themselves. Once your design is where you want it to be, you must begin to focus on your copy and your copy’s overall layout. Both are highly crucial when it comes to the process of creating high-quality copy. 

According to 99Designs, “Great design can make a website look good, but if users aren’t reading your content, then you may be heading towards a marketing shipwreck. It’s the same with your written content. Without visuals and good design your copy is left incomplete...It’s all about finding that sweet spot. Keep it clean, keep it clear, keep it readable.”

When finding that sweet spot, you must make sure that your overall product is cohesive, your copy matches the appearance of the design, and you can show it to someone not involved in the process and grab their attention effectively. 


The Double-Edged Sword of Design and Copy—and How to Balance It

With both processes now fully fleshed out, the question still remains; which comes first? The answer is neither. Think of design and copy as a double-edged sword. If you focus your efforts on one, the other will falter. 

This is where finding that balance is key. By perfectly balancing both edges, you can create a marketing strategy and brand identity that connects to the target demographic without fail. 

To do this effectively, you must connect your copy and design departments, and have them work side by side to come up with cohesive ideas before executing anything. You must also be able to see your brand identity in every piece you put out, and be able to understand and be attracted to your copy and design with ease. 

After all, as with anything in marketing and business, the key is always to attract your target audience in the best way possible and, by connecting your copy and design together to form one cohesive and persuasive product, you are sure to do just that. 

To learn more about what Ironmark can do for your marketing needs, including design and copy on your next project, contact us today! 


Written by Lynne Kingsley

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