Copywriting is not an optional extra, it’s part of the design process!

One of WB Yeats’ finest poems (in my opinion at least), About School Children, poses the question “how can we know the dancer from the dance?”. I’m guessing this is a rhetorical question: he’s simply observing that some creative activities are so intimately connected to the artist who creates or performs them, that separating the two is almost impossible.

But why? Well, because – to use Yeats’ example – a dance (which of course represents any art form) is only complete when there’s a dancer present to perform it: a dance, on its own, is nothing but an artistic concept.

Perhaps this same analogy could be applied to the fields of design and copywriting, when it comes to brand messaging?

Think about it like this: a website isn’t complete just because the graphic design element is done; that’s because, without great copy to help tell the story and bring the design to life, it doesn’t mean anything. Just like a brochure without copy is nothing more than a picture book.

Design is often thought of in purely graphic terms

Mention the word “design” in a branding context and the professionals that will immediately come to mind are web designers, 3D creatives, graphic designers; us poor old copywriters have to battle our way to the front!

I think the reason for this is actually a very human one: the word “design” immediately conjures up graphic images in the minds of those who may not be familiar with the areas of branding, marketing and communications. In other words, to most people out there, good design (whether web design or graphic design) is all about colour, images, logos, and all those cool visual things that make people go wow!

And as for the copy that is so vital in helping to tell the brand story that visuals on their own cannot tell….well let’s just say that not everyone recognises its value and importance in terms of the overall finished product!

Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t believe for a second that anyone intentionally dismisses the role of copy in a branding sense. Instead, I think it’s down to the fact that, for most people, visuals don’t require any explaining – a picture tells a thousand words and all that – but if words aren’t your thing, they simply do not register in the mind’s eye.

Copywriting needs to be brilliant in order to stand out

As a copywriter, marketer, communications and branding professional – and indeed as someone who is fascinated by people and consumer behaviour – I find this “dancer Vs the dance” observation of Yeats incredibly insightful and interesting.

In fact, more than that, I think it’s a genuinely important question for any copywriter to have in mind at all times: because no matter how good one’s copy is, it always needs to be even better in order to be as exciting and as memorable as its graphic brother!


The Right Words is a copywriting, content and storytelling agency based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

If you need really awesome copy (to go with your awesome graphics), then check us out at and get in touch!