Three essential brand questions in the content driven world

Posted by: Stuart Purcell, Cedar

Amid the explosion of content channels, where the next generation flits from one social media platform to another, it’s important to be aware of the dangers that such a multitude of channels poses to your brand’s carefully crafted look and feel. With this intimidating volume, it’s crucial that brand guardians ensure each platform is delivering ‘best in class’ or appropriate content.  

To lift the lid on this hot topic, here are three fundamental questions to be answered swiftly before creating and designing content, to make sure it enhances rather than undermines the brand… 

  1. Does the content link to good strategy?
    Starting the creative process with an off-brand idea is like trying to build a skyscraper on a cracked and faulty foundation – it may be a spectacular construction, but it’s sure to collapse. Yet too often creatives lead a rush to get on with ‘colouring in’ and smarty-pants solutions before they’ve asked any basic questions.

    There are three important elements that need to be identified before you even begin on the content design, which are ‘who the response is for’, ‘how it will be received or distributed’ and ‘what the desired action is’. You can’t design your way out of a bad strategy, so these basics need to be clarified before the big reveal of any creative solution.

  2. Does your brand know who it is on each platform?
    All too often, there’s a stampede to push content out via every channel, without making sure that there is any synergy with the brand. This gets even more complicated when it comes to reaching our increasingly nimble, fluid audience. No sooner has a Facebook campaign been set up than the target audience has moved onto Instagram and Vine. SMS text messaging dropped for the first time ever in 2013 with new messaging apps such as Whatsapp taking the lead.

    This is a significant shift, demonstrating that merely having universal CMS or a dynamically responsive design doesn’t necessarily ensure the brand survives intact from one platform to the next. Knowing the nuances of each one is essential – unless you want to look like a dad dancing at a teenager’s party.

  3. Can you be both always on and always on-brand?
    The ‘old content world’ practices involving style guides and brand handbooks have been overtaken – brands now need to act, and react, more fluidly with a dashboard of controls fit for the fast lane and beyond. Key are the content creators who know the brand inside and out, empowered to make quick content decisions while also building a brand that doesn’t fray at the edges.

    As user-generated content continues to grow rapidly, it raises the question of how brands control the tone of voice and message to keep it in line with their image. Examples of brands doing this well include Land Rover, whose highly interactive Hibernot campaign invites customers to share their winter experiences in a style and setting consistent with its values – letting go of creative control on specific assets, while still curating them in a ‘Land Rover’ way.

    And finally…
    Content creators need to see the entire landscape, work out which element they are influencing and ensure their piece of the jigsaw fits perfectly. Yes, we know it’s all moving very quickly. But there is no excuse for taking your eye off the brand. 

Posted by: Stuart Purcell, Creative Director, Cedar

Posted in CMA blog
10thApr 2014

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