What the Writer Learned at the Design Conference

| By: Sarah Truckey
Sarah Truckey

“Content and design should not talk over each other.”

This quote from Jim Coudal was one of the many that resonated with me—Almanac’s Content Strategist—at the Brand New Conference a few weeks ago. Yes, you may be thinking, “Why did they take a writer to a branding and design conference?” and I thought the same thing when they booked my flight along with the design team, but each presentation gave me something significant to think about, and if I took away anything from these sessions it’s that designing with images, colors, and shapes is extraordinarily similar to designing with words. 


1) We both can alter perception with the use of a comma or the swerve of a serif.

Example A:


They certainly can.

Example B:



The slightest change (before on the left, after on the right) can change the audience’s relationship with the brand. The mark has shifted from simplistic, straight-edged and straightforward to something with a little more personality and flare, creating an identity among viewers that’s more fitting for the brand.

These changes may be slight, but they can make or break copy and design.

2) Neither of us could exist without the other.

This goes back to Coudal’s quote, stressing that content and design need to complement rather than override one another. We each are allowed our voices, our style and our opinions, and we each have our say in what’s best for the final product from our own perspectives. But I can’t make edits to leading or kerning, or know why a certain weight of paper will print better than another. I rely on designers to make me look good, and they rely on me to make them sound good.


3) We both build things.

Before I became fully immersed in this world, I envied designers because it seemed like they had so much less to focus on. They’re just moving things around on a computer, drawing, picking out colors; I have to string words together in a cohesive sentence, check punctuation, get the tone right, think about flow, about emotion, etc. But I’ve learned that we both do all of these these things. This work requires concentration, decision-making skills, critical thinking, narrative expertise, etc. from both parties. Designers are simply using a different medium.