Interpreting the meaning of how design uses words

I’ve followed the increasing volume of debate in your pages concerning the power of words in communication design. I welcome (and agree with) Tim Rich’s comments on the need to get writers to engage more fully on the visual side (Private View, DW 4 Septem

I’ve followed the increasing volume of debate in your pages concerning the power of words in communication design.

I welcome (and agree with) Tim Rich’s comments on the need to get writers to engage more fully on the visual side (Private View, DW 4 September). Hardly surprising, really, as this was the fundamental premise on which our company was founded eight years ago.

But I have always been at a bit of a loss to work out what anyone could mean when they talked about the importance of tone of voice to an organisation or brand and simply refer to the use of words themselves.

By definition, tone of voice is as much about the ‘how’ as the ‘what’ of a communication – about connotation, not just denotation. In fact, isn’t it impossible to separate the two? You can’t speak to anyone without the phrasing, pace, pitch and timbre of your voice adding to the meaning of what you say.

And isn’t this at the core of what communication design is all about – adding layers of meaning and tone through intelligent use of typography, imagery, colour and structure?

Or does my definition make the practice of design (and therefore designers) sound too prosaic?

Richard Irvine

Managing director

Redpath Design

Edinburgh EH1 3NW

Latest articles