Why Design is Important for Writing

A laptop sits open while a Micron pen rests on a notebook filled with sketches.

If you couldn’t tell from our recent storytelling blog, all of us at 8THIRTYFOUR are huge fans of writing. We’re an integrated communications firm, after all, and one thing unique to our firm is that everyone on the team can write.

But writing doesn’t always have to stand alone. (That’s the “integrated” part of that whole “integrated communications” thing.) In fact, when you pair design and writing together, you get projects that further the brand’s message in ways that neither of the two media could do on their own.

So how does writing impact design and vice-versa? Keep reading to find out.

Design Speaks to Our Subconsciousness

This might come as a surprise, but human brains don’t always process information in complete, grammatically correct sentences. Sometimes we think in images, sometimes in fragments; it’s part of what makes writing so hard for some people, the dance between thoughts and what’s actually on the page.

Luckily, there’s a solution: design. Humans take a lot of subtle clues from the way that images are presented to us. Color, shape, everything about a design communicates something to our brains, whether we know it or not. That’s why it’s essential to combine design and writing.

If you want a brand to look professional, you’ll use different shapes, colors, and fonts than if you want it to look youthful, or friendly. That’s why brand identities need to be consistent between writing and design.

For real. Imagine if our blogs were always written like this. The words and tone are the same, but it’s a totally different feel, isn’t it? Even the smallest design choices make a huge difference. 

Design Creates an Experience

Think about the nicest hotel you’ve ever been to. It probably had a fancy, slim script font in gold or a deep rich color, and signs all over the place with minimal design that pointed you to the 24-hour spa escape (or whatever it is that fancy hotels have).

Now imagine that exact same experience, but replace all the signs with big bubbly letters in hot pink and bulky arrows filled with polka-dots. Would you pay as much for that hotel as you would for the sleek one? We sure as hell wouldn’t.

That’s because design is key to conveying the brand’s story and creating an experience, especially when there are few words. You might have a robust branding statement and mission at your fingertips, and that’s great. But when you need to write “Breakfast is downstairs,” it doesn’t exactly give you much of an opportunity to pack in that value proposition.

So what do you do? You rely on design. In the absence of a literal story, you create a visual one. You use dramatic lines and simple flourishes to tell customers that, yeah, this really is a freakin’ swanky hotel, and yeah, you absolutely should pay way too much for that room with only one queen bed.

Design Tells Your Story Faster

After everything we’ve said about design and writing, there’s one really important detail that we should mention. It turns out that it takes a human brain about 150 milliseconds to process text, but it only takes about 13 milliseconds to process an image. That’s a huge difference!

In today’s incredibly information-heavy age, it’s important to get your message across to an impatient audience as quickly as you can. If you can grab a person’s attention with an eye-catching and highly informative visual (think subconscious, not like, actually informative), you can get them to stick around and read the rest of your story.

And that’s huge! Nowadays, you can write whatever you want, but it’s hard to keep attention spans long enough to get people to read it all. Speaking of, if you read all of that (or just some of it), and still feel a little lost, you’re in luck. Contact us today about how we can tell your story, both in words and, of course, with design.

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