On the 2nd April, we heard David's insights on the perpetual power of words in the ever-changing world of brand communication.
Unsurprisingly, Ragged Edge's Associate Creative Director and Head of Copy David Ormondroyd believes firmly in the power of words. What surprises David, however, is the lack of writers working within design and brand consultancies. Given the emphasis on the importance of brand tone of voice, the multiple channels in which brands must work (and conversationally too), this seems an oversight — a point also made by Monzo's Harry Ashbridge at our panel on brand-defining copy in July last year.
On the evening of Tuesday 2nd April, David visited the YCN Library to share examples of creative work that back up his beliefs, put forward some principles on building effective brands and open up discussion around his ideas.
David described a career in design and branding agencies, developing identities for big corporate businesses and fast-growing startups too. For him, the most compelling and creative communication comes when words and images are working hard together: "It's never a competition... design can bring words to life just as much as words can inspire and elevate design."
While talking us through some favourite past projects, David shared some key lessons that guide his thinking; and relationships with clients and colleagues alike:
Here are three of them:
Stick together, and see the value
David emphasised that "the design and writing have to work in tandem”, explaining that copywriters and designers must work together to create the best outcomes for their clients. When David freelanced with Apple, he collaborated with a team of creatives to develop the branding for the Worldwide Developers Conference. “We took the language of code, both visual and verbal to create the brand.” For him, "Words are the future, as well as the past and present. I think the proliferation of social media and Twitter has made everyone see the merit of good writing.”
Words are assets
Tone and consistency are key, and David argued that “Words can become the most recalled, emotionally resonant asset that a brand has.” But how can we get maximum value from our words in branding? For David, it’s always about collaboration — “I would use them collaboratively, less writer-designer, but more heads together.” He explained that you should think of the creative process like a game of doubles tennis, and look at problems "from different angles to get better solutions". The designer and writer are on the same team, playing to win together.
As further evidence of the power of a cohesive team approach, David talked us through some bold new work for Whirli, a second-hand toy venture. We heard how he contributed throughout the entire process; ensuring that words and language were baked in from the outset — from strategy and naming, into identity, application. A TV spot for Whirli will be appearing on a screen near you soon.
What’s in a name?
David underlined the importance of picking a name for making a powerful first impression: “Naming is the centrepiece of any brand. They should look good, sound good and be memorable." The magic happens when the name conjures a sense of purpose and alludes to the experience that the brand promises.
When opening up to contributions from our guests, the classic question of avoiding writer's block arose. David's suggestion was to continually look outward: “I think writers need a really wide frame of reference to draw from and so I try and stop thinking about writing or the project, and go do something else, like reading a book or watching a TV series. If I ever have writer’s block, I will do something entirely unrelated and see what happens next.”
A big thanks to David for candidly sharing his learning, to everyone who came along and to Sam Bush for his photography.