“Wait, what does a writer* even do?”
Updated: Sep 20, 2019
Well then, a bit blunt—but let’s dive in. First off, a good writer is a critical thinker—
not just about which words perform best in which places, but about everything. No
hidden ingredients. No fillers. A writer will ensure this. In fact, you seriously
shouldn’t start thinking without a writer in the room.
Begin with language. When interviewing a writer—even of the curious, introverted sort—
they should be articulate. Timing, confidence, cadence and musicality—these qualities will prove their value from the first word—because when something is written well, it does
more than communicate; it sings.
*I was educated at the University of California, Berkeley, completing coursework
in English, Linguistics and Rhetoric. Beyond theory and principles, I learned to write.
That would be irrelevant in most places, but it’s relevant here. Apologies for the
pretense. (Also, that asterisk needed somewhere to go.)
When you hire a Creative Director, the above remains true, but the brand comes into play. Supporting a brand means adopting a consumer mindset, and donning their shoes. (At this moment, where is this reader, and on what device?) I say “reader”, singular, because at any given time, only one person is reading what we’ve written down. So our list is growing. Writer, thinker and advocate; for the consumer and the brand.
“A company doesn’t last 160 years by standing still.
It endures by reinventing itself, striving to delight its consumers,
winning in the marketplace, and by remaining true to its values.”
Levi Strauss & Co
Speaking to the essentials, placing a writer in the CD role will create an anchor point for strategic goals, company-wide. If something is worth implementing, it needs to be articulated clearly, top to bottom, to both internal and external teams. (This costs nothing.) A true writer will listen first, and listen well. If there are flaws, weak points or potential pitfalls, this is where they will arise. See also: Critical thinking. Once an idea is solid, it can be communicated boldly.
Finally, they say readers are leaders, but I’d rather follow the person who wrote the book. And so to close, let’s consider the writer as a creative executive—be it ECD, CCO or VP of Brand. This person will be singularly responsible, not only for creative expression on behalf of the company—but for ensuring creativity, strategy, humanity and relevancy remain at its core. The multiplicity of mediums, deliverables and demands are not daunting. Agility, Iterations, forecasting, all that is modern life—is expected, and rightly so.
Find this person, and they will define your brand. Maybe that’s why you need a writer.
They can add zeros faster than anyone else.