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2018.03.07

Digital Creative Strategy: Why Cross-Platform Design + Messaging Systems Matter for Brands

By Joe Nash, Client Partnerships at Trollbäck+Company

As we see media distributors losing consumers from traditional linear TV, digital distribution and social media have become crucial for creating engagement, boosting awareness and growing a brand’s customer base, among dozens of other KPIs.

Some points we’ve been hearing from clients more and more often are things like:

“We have great content, but no system for our teams to deliver clear brand messaging across platforms.”

“We have a strong identity, but don’t know how to translate our voice into effective social strategy.”

“We have a robust content strategy, but need better tools to create brand consistency.”

The situation gets even more complex when you consider the sheer amount of content these digital platforms are demanding. In a recent conversation with a friend who manages digital for a major sports team, he told me that the amount of media their team distributes per week is:

"content

That’s 550 pieces of content in seven days. For media companies, this amount of distribution may seem like the new normal, but for brands who are not used to publishing this volume of material, it can be a massive challenge. All brands need to cut through the noise to stay engaged with their consumers.

Even with an all-star team, staying consistent from a brand messaging and visual standpoint is a massive challenge with this amount of material to manage.

But when a brand understands how to scale their branding systems, it allows them to expand and tailor their messaging across multiple platforms. It helps them develop their visual framework for a wider variety of content. It also allows them to better utilize motion design, video, and animation to help build excitement and stand out in a crowded digital landscape.

With a strong digital strategy, brand storytelling will naturally take on different forms and grow in an entirely new way. No matter the industry, content teams will need to stay agile, innovative and creative, while still remaining on brand.

So, how can we better prepare for this brave new world and create useful tools to deliver brand-safe content, while still focusing on telling great stories?

This is the framework we use to approach multi-platform design and messaging strategy with our partners.

Where to start

Step 1: Content Audit

An inventory and qualitative evaluation of the brand’s current verbal and visual content, covering all marketing and strategy documentation.

Step 2: Landscape Review

A detailed visual catalog and assessment of relevant in- and out-of-category brands, analyzed for style, clarity of message, and market-appropriateness.

Step 3: Ecosystem Mapping

A diagram of the target brand’s consumer touch points, illustrating all brand channels and properties, the connections between them, and their role within the system.

Step 4: Audience Personas

Conceptualized representations of core audience types, outlining their goals, desires, and behaviors to help guide the brand messaging and voice.

Step 5: Design System Toolkits / Tone of Voice Guide

A complete set of guidelines, including a group of core brand traits, communication principles, and sample copy for the entire brand ecosystem.

Step 6: Rollout Plan

A timeline that documents all phases of a proposed activation for a revised messaging system, factoring in audience needs, marketing needs, and partnership/co-brand opportunities.

Sustainable Brand Systems

The value of employing a comprehensive messaging and visual framework is, in many ways, like the value of a good logo design. At first, both seem relatively simple and straightforward. But when done well, each can bring an irreplaceable value and “it factor” to any company. Editorial teams can keep a consistent brand voice across continents and platforms. Design toolkits are able to give creative teams the guardrails they need to produce and create on their own. Global companies can more easily explore and understand how the brand can represent itself across different cultures. And onboarding new talent becomes far more efficient and seamless on both sides of the equation.

In conclusion

Working with creative partners who can help develop these tools will allow brands to easily meet the demand of digital platforms while allowing creative teams to keep their focus on great storytelling and making an emotional connection.