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Designing, writing, and marketing. Yes, they are different. Here's why you need to know.

Sometimes other things are prioritized before visual art. Think about it. Art class is removed from school curriculum before math class if money is tight. Usually you buy a dining room table before knick-knacks for your home. Even at the beginning of humanity, we had to get good at gathering food and shelter before beginning to paint on walls. It’s logical. You can’t create art if you’re dead.

The same is true at times in business. Marketing and design generally don’t get as much structural and administrative care as accountants or operation managers. It makes sense, but it can cause issues in the business world. If a company does have a creative person on staff, they may be asked to do creative things they aren’t experts in because it’s convenient for administration and saves money for the company. I’m talking about asking a graphic designer, like me, to create marketing campaigns. Or asking a copywriter to create graphic design. It’s common for each of these three roles to have knowledge of the others since we work closely with each other. Perhaps a marketing professional knows enough about copywriting to be dangerous. Maybe a graphic designer can get a passing grade at putting together a marketing campaign. As I’ve grown my graphic design business, I’ve had to decide where to draw the line with the scope of labor I’m willing to provide. But what’s even the difference between marketers, copywriters, and graphic designers? What’s the big deal?

I’m glad you asked, because it’s important to distinguish them!

Marketing: Campaign Conception

According to the American Marketing Association, Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Essentially, Executives approach a marketing specialist with something they would like to promote. This could be the promotion of the company itself, a product, a service, an event, etc. This person then takes the product, considers branding standards, the target audience, and other details, and decides what the campaign should do, say, and look like. This person doesn’t write the copy or do the design, but he or she guides the copywriters and designers to achieve the desired look and feel of the campaign. You could say he or she brings a campaign into existence.

Marketing specialists know the best methods of convincing people to buy stuff. They know things like conversion funnels, integration audiences, and what marketing channels are best for what demographics. The funny thing is I sort of made up some of those terms. I could throw a haphazard campaign together since I’ve worked at marketing agencies and I’ve seen what’s been done, but don’t ask me to plan a marketing campaign if you want something award winning.

Copywriting: Campaign Voice, Tone, Attitude

After the campaign has been conceptualized, it’s sent to the graphic designer and copywriter. According to Wikipedia: Copywriting is the act or occupation of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. Once a marketing campaign is planned, the marketing specialist approaches the copywriter with the desired outcome. What should the campaign sound like? How should it make the audience feel when they read it? While the marketing specialist understands the end goal and the campaign the best, the copywriter is the expert on the text aspect of the project. He or she gives the marketing campaign personality by choosing words that influence voice, tone, and attitude personified. Having precise copy is essential. It’s costly to miscommunicate.

This person is the master of all the absurd complexities of the English language: grammar, semi-colons, clauses, and much more. I’ll admit my writing skills have improved since beginning this blog 14 months ago, but you’re likely going to get a better return on investment from someone who has “copywriter” in his or her job title.

Designing: Campaign Look-and-Feel

Graphic design is the visual assembly of information in an engaging manner using principles of art and design. Essentially, I exploit principles of art and design to create things that visually communicate things, whether it be a logo or information on a flyer. A graphic designer is an expert on color theory, typography, hierarchy, and more. The look-and-feel is established and the copy is provided, so it’s time to give the campaign a body through the talents of a graphic designer. A graphic designer gives the marketing campaign personality by choosing visuals that give it flesh, bone, and fashion. As discussed in an earlier blog, pretty things draw more attention than ugly things, so it’s worth it to have a trained graphic designer on staff.

Notice I didn’t question anything in this section like I did with the other two! Graphic design is my area of expertise. I have considered branching out more into marketing and copywriting but I’ve run into a few issues whenever I attempt to do so. When I try to learn marketing, it’s like I’m trying to hold water. My hands get wet but most of the information slips through my fingers. Writing is fun (hence this blog), but I would rather spend my working hours designing a kick-butt website than writing killer ad copy. Marketing and copywriting just aren’t my passions and talent as graphic design is. Lastly, it takes a lot of time to upkeep skills. Keeping up with industry standards of all three crafts would take a lot of time I just don’t have.

So, what’s the big deal about asking a copywriter to do graphic design? It’s like asking a waitress to cook the food. She knows what delicious looks and smells like, but she very likely won’t be able to execute it to the level the experts can. It can also be likened to asking the cook to wait on tables. He knows how to be courteous, but he doesn’t know the intricate and unique etiquette that goes with it.


At the end of the day, I want what’s best for a company. I’m a firm believer in doing something well, not just good enough. So I will usually recommend the expertise of someone else when it comes to copywriting and marketing (or chemistry, for that matter!). However, not all projects are equal. Sometimes I’m willing to negotiate writing content for a website or putting together a social media campaign. Just let me know what your needs are and we will go from there. It at least gives me peace of mind knowing you’ve read this article!

As always, thank you for the read. I hope it adds value to your life! What are your thoughts? Am I completely wrong? Do you wholeheartedly agree? Let me know in the comments!

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