Rebranding is an inevitable part of running a business, especially an online one.
So do you need a designer and a copywriter for your rebrand?
The short answer: Yes.
The long answer? Buckle in.
Whether you’re shifting gears with the kind of work you want to do, or your current website doesn’t line up with your services anymore, or you’re just ready to reach a new audience—rebranding isn’t simple, but it can be extremely worthwhile. And by worthwhile, we mean more bookings and more clients!
Before you get started on your rebrand, you need to be sure you are entering into this phase for the right reasons.
Throwing money at a new look and message with no clear direction or motive in mind is a waste of your resources—not to mention, a headache for your designer and copywriter.
Visual shifts should be strategic and based on the direction your brand is headed, not just for the sake of trying something new or experimenting with a trendy font you saw on Pinterest.
When your offerings, target audience, or style changes, your brand needs to evolve with it. And because your social media channels, newsletter, and whatever else you use lead back to your website, consistency is key. Ask yourself: does the voice in your Instagram posts match the voice on your website?
While rebranding requires time, energy, and money, the payoff could be a complete game changer for your business.
Questions to ask yourself before you rebrand:
… Is my business currently heading in a direction that I don’t like?
… Do I know how I would like my business to change?
… Am I just bored with the look and feel of my business? Or is this a strategic move?
It might be time to rebrand if …
… you’ve recently shifted your offerings.
… you have new clarity on the types of people you want to work with.
… your services listed are hard to understand.
… you’re not getting the right kind of inquiries
… your social media voice doesn’t match your website voice.
If all of this soul-searching has you convinced that it’s time to rebrand, let’s talk about who can help you and how to build a rebranding dream team.
Why you need a designer AND a copywriter
Having a stunning, user-friendly website won’t get you too far. It’s pretty, but if the words fall flat, your readers will feel like they are on a date with a 10 who has a crappy personality. The looks don’t make up for the rest. You want to give people a little of both to keep them on your site. And you absolutely must have good copy to get people to reach out to you.
Neither copy nor design can carry a website alone; they need to work together for a full and pleasant user experience. They rely on each other to be successful.
There’s no denying that rebranding can be pricey. We wouldn’t recommend rebranding only one piece of the puzzle—you want your website to be the best it can be, right? And since you are spending your hard-earned money to give your biz’s look and message facelift, be sure to find a designer and a copywriter that fit your needs, not the other way around. There isn’t really a point in investing time and money in one area without the other. You can definitely DIY both to save money, but pay attention to both pieces of your site. They are both important.
Let’s pretend that you’re a photographer looking to rebrand your website (after all, we write copy for photographers). You could have the most amazing photos and the best site design in the world and still not get booked. While your beautiful photos bring potential clients to your site, your words are what keep them engaged and hopefully will lead them to reach out to you.
There are ways to save money on your rebrand:
1. Don’t waste it:
The first step to reducing the costs of rebranding is to not waste it. So many people jump into a rebrand because they want to switch things up, but they don’t have a clear end in mind. Determine and define exactly what it is that you’re trying to achieve. Be intentional about the results you want before you even start, that way you have your ideal client in mind during every step of the rebrand process. This should also help you choose the team you build for a rebrand. If you have clear goals, you’ll be able to identify a copywriter and designer that can best help you achieve them.
2. Utilize templates:
The options for website templates are infinite—a quick Google search will illustrate the hundreds of thousands of ready-to-go, customizable templates for you to choose from based on the goals of your rebrand. Here are some of our favorite templates. (Important note: This step should come later on after your copy is written and finalized. More on that in a minute!)
3. DIY Your Words:
If you’re a newer photographer or business owner, this is always the route we suggest. If you haven’t had a ton of experience with different clients or you’re still figuring out who and what you want to photograph, go the DIY route. Don’t invest in a huge copywriting service if you’re still in the discovery phase of business. We actually have a guide to help you (and to save you SO much money).
So which comes first, design or copy?
Neither. Defining your ideal client comes first.
If you start writing and designing before you have nailed down who you’re trying to attract, your website runs the risk of falling short. When brainstorming your copy, consider the reader’s perspective, and ask yourself: Who are you writing to and designing for? Who are you trying to draw in? What matters most to them? How can you relate to them? Thoroughly understanding your ideal client is essential to the makeup of your website.
Plus, when you have your messaging done first, it brings clarity to the project. Not only will you know exactly what words or phrases to emphasize and where, but you will have a clear grasp of your ideal client. Your website and brand are as much about who you serve as it is about you.
Once you have nailed down who you’re talking to, you can start to consider how to create a site that speaks to them.
Copy and design depend on one another to give your readers the best experience possible when they land on your website. Having one without the other is like having a burger with no fries. It’s just … wrong. But! When you’re rebranding, your copy should be established and clear before the design even begins.
Why? Well, there are a couple of reasons…
1. Copy informs the design.
Your words dictate the flow of the design, not the other way around. Let’s say you decide to focus on the design first. If you haven’t come up with the copy yet or figured out the flow of what you want to say, you will be limited when it comes time to write. For example, you might want to go back and change something in the headline on your About page, but if the design is already done, there might not be enough space to make any revisions or play around with your catchy headline. So instead of having flexibility and creative freedom, your copy will be limited by the structure of your design. You will want as much creative freedom as possible during your rebrand!
2. You should never write in the backend of your site.
When you write directly in the backend, instead of a blank Google or Word doc, your creativity is immediately limited. It gives you a box to write in, and you’re trying to make the words fit the vision rather than just getting the right message across with however many words you need to put down. And when you write copy first, you’re writing words that actually work and flow together rather than creating copy for distinct sections. You can always trim down your copy later, but it’s harder to go back and add space or move sections.
3. Just like copy is strategic, so is design.
If you’ve hired a good designer, they will ask similar questions to your copywriter. They aren’t just putting lines on a page because they look cool. They are designing to attract a specific client, with specific wants and needs. They need to have your ideal client in mind before they choose your color palette, create your logo, and lay out the flow of your site. Your copywriter will help you define and articulate who that client is. You want to set your designer up for success by giving them as much information as possible about who they are designing for.
So, final answer: you should have your copy and messaging done before you start the redesign process. By doing this, you’ll be setting yourself (and your designer) up for success.
If you’re not ready to hire someone yet …
That’s OK. You can be the designer and copywriter until you have the budget to hire people.
While your copy tells a story, the design takes people on a journey. The best way to do that is to make a simple wireframe that lays out what you need to write.
A wireframe, the framework of your website, shows how copy and design work together and will help break down each section to keep you in line with your intentions. Laying it out this way helps you see what you need to say in order to convert the sale.
You can put it in a simple Google Doc. Define which pages you want to write and then lay out where headlines will go, what information needs to be on which page, where you’ll put testimonials, and anything extra you know you want included. This initial wireframe will change a million times. Be gentle with yourself.
(And if you need help, click this photo below. We have a guide to help you wireframe and write your own copy.)
If you’re not hiring a copywriter, it’s time to start writing.
While a blank Google doc can be intimidating, think of it as creative freedom rather than a limitation. The best way to get started is just to start writing, even if it’s not a perfect, fully fleshed-out idea. You will undoubtedly edit whatever you write so don’t worry about making a mistake at this stage.
Bonus tip: Sometimes explaining what you want to write out loud (to yourself or to a friend) is easier than actually writing! Try the voice-to-text feature inside a Google Doc or even just record a voice memo on your phone!
But before sitting down to write—or before your copywriter begins—make sure you have all the information you need about your customers, especially if your business has changed. It’s important you understand how they got to your site (how much did they know about you before they got to your site?), what their problems are, how it feels, and what might keep them from booking with you.
Once you feel good about your copy (and maybe ask a friend or past client to read it too), you can start to piece together your wireframe in a more formal way.
Your headlines, not just the first one, should be obvious and eye-catching.
The design of the headline tells someone’s brain to read it, and their interest is piqued by what it says so don’t just summarize what’s below it. Instead, pull out the most interesting part of that paragraph and make that your headline. Then, use the copy in the paragraph below to support the headline.
When formatting, try to make your copy as reader-friendly as possible. Insider tip: You never want more than 12 words on a line. It’s too much work for someone’s eye! Keep an eye on the width of your paragraphs, the length of your paragraphs, and font choice. Make sure the font isn’t too small or too big. Your design and copy should feel balanced.
Make sure the call-to-action buttons are obvious and actual buttons that can be clicked on. This is important because you are leading them on a journey through your site. You need to tell people what to do on your page.
We know this all sounds like a lot. As we said, rebranding isn’t easy, but it can be extremely worthwhile. Every single website is a puzzle of copy and design. Once you start on one piece, everything will come together eventually.
If you want to hand it over to the pros …
Then we suggest you do your homework. Rebranding is a huge investment, of both your money and your time. You want to trust the people you hire to get it right for you. Here’s how to do your due diligence when hiring a copywriter and/or a designer:
1. Look at their past work.
And not just what they have on displayed in their portfolio on their own website. Ask them for more examples of what they have done. Look at their “Tagged Photos” on Instagram and see what other creatives have said about the process of working with them. It’s the same thing as one of your potential clients asking to see a full gallery of a wedding or family session. You want to see their range and what they are capable of.
2. CONSIDER YOUR BUDGET.
Your business is going to have several iterations. You’re going to grow and change and what you’re able to spend will grow and change with you. Like we said before, start with the end goal in mind. Think about what you need the most help with: for some people that’s copy, for some people that’s design. You don’t need to spend $20,000 on a rebrand if your design is functional but your copy isn’t converting. And you don’t need to change your copy if all your favorite clients mention it when they reach out. You need to figure out where the holes are and then pay to have someone else patch them.
3. If you’re unsure, tell them.
The best way to set yourself up for success is by being honest, even during the process of hiring someone. Tell them what you’re hesitant about. Tell them where your concerns are. Their answers should tell you all that you need to know. A good service provider will constantly reassure you and help you feel like you’ve made the right decision. You’ll feel comfy cozy with them. We tell our clients that if it isn’t a loud “YES!” in their brain when talking with us, then they shouldn’t hire us. We only want to take someone’s money if they are excited to give it to us.
4. Ask them a ton of questions.
Here are some important ones:
- What is the timeline of this project? And do you ever struggle to meet deadlines?
- Why do you think we are a good fit? Why do you want to bring me on as a client?
- Are you willing to work with my designer/copywriter/assistant if we have questions?
- What kinds of results have you achieved for other clients?
- Am I in the right place in my business to be hiring you?
- What happens if I’m dissatisfied with the work?
Ultimately, a copywriter or designer should feel like an energetic fit for you.
We know there’s not really a formula to know who is the right one. But you should feel it in your gut that this person can help you. Look around, don’t go with the first person you find. Ask your industry friends. There’s way too many good business people in the world to settle.
Back to the question 3,000 words ago …
Yeah, you should hire a copywriter and a designer for your rebrand. You deserve it, your business deserves it, and there are people out there who can help you with the budget you have.