Inspiration for writer-designer collaboration: ultimate collaborators John Lennon and Paul McCartnery

Imagine a day in the life of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, circa 1964. Lennon says, “Hello. I had some interesting thoughts today about love. I’m going to go home right now and write some lyrics. Can you write the music? Goodbye!”

“Wait! Get back! Help!” McCartney yells down the street after Lennon. He phones Lennon’s house, but there’s no reply. He thinks, “John, if you want me to, I will.”

Next morning, Lennon arrives at the studio with a short set of lyrics that evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia, edged with a hint of emptiness. He calls it “In My Life.” McCartney presents him with a driving, pounding, longish composition inspired by the roller coaster of love and desire. He calls it “Helter Skelter.”

Lennon’s lyrics don’t fit the melody, so he edits down each line into shorter bites. McCartney lengthens his melody lines to give Lennon’s words some room. Lennon toughens up some of the language to match the rhythms. McCartney tones down the edginess to accommodate Lennon’s wistful mood. The result is rubbish. They give up and go get a pint. Musical genius is thwarted. The End.

Why subject you, dear readers, to that sad cautionary tale? To make a point, of course. The words and images in your marketing pieces have to work in concert, like the lyrics and melody of a song. And the best way to ensure that outcome is for writers and designers to come together and collaborate from the start.

  • DO agree in advance on the tone and voice of the design and the text.
  • DO establish word counts before writing starts. Otherwise, the writer may be forced to edit down prose from succinct to senseless or add unnecessary fluff to fill the space.
  • DO story-board a brochure by folding a piece of blank paper in the chosen style and sketching out what text and images will appear on each panel. This allows the designer and writer to plan the order in which the text is revealed, and see what panels are next to each other as the brochure is unfolded.

Have a marketing challenge? Call Kim Landry at 484-829-0021 or email¬†[email protected].

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