Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Content Marketing for a Digital Era

Traditional marketers have long championed the idea that content is king, and for most, it seems logical that if you create relevant and valuable content, you are better positioned to engage customers and increase leads.
But how has this concept changed in a digital world which moves and churns out information at a pace that no one could have ever conceived? And how can companies continue to communicate in a way that is both impactful and persuasive?

The UK print business is a particular example of a behemoth industry which has had to dramatically adapt more than any other to changes in how we search for and interact with content on a daily basis. UK national newspaper the Daily Mail has always had a high circulation on UK soil, but it has been with the Mail Online that the publisher has been able to make its mark on a global scale. Last year, it was announced that the Mail Online receives more traffic than any other news site in the world, and with recent plans announced for digital expansion, it’s difficult to imagine its digital following wavering any time soon.

Meanwhile, online publishers such as the Huffington Post have had an enormous impact on the way we view news without ever having a hard printed copy to its name.

On the flip side, according to a recent report by Group M, it is predicted that spending on national printed editions of newspapers will fall from £1.2bn in 2012 to £1.1bn in 2013, a drop of 5%. This news comes following the Guardian’s recent denying of ‘absurd’ suggestions that it is to move online entirely, and much loved publications such as music magazine The Word and DC Thompson’s comic The Dandy bid farewell to print due to drastic changes in the printed media industry.

Yet digital spending looks unstoppable and is expected to exceed £5.3bn this year in the UK alone. With the BBC website receiving nearly 250,000 referrals from Facebook every day, it is crucial that social media and web content is recognised as having moved beyond being considered a fad to a serious opportunity.

However, if the average Facebook or Twitter user is faced with hundreds of messages and news stories every day, how much stronger does the content and its headline have to be to command attention?

“It’s about having that unique content” says Mail Online's deputy publisher Pete Picton. “The experience at the Mail Online is that we think there’s a market for our journalism [overseas] – if it’s good quality journalism. Good quality anything will have a market.”

But has the use of digital tools changed how we write? Digital advances mean that we email, text, blog and chat on social media on a regular basis throughout the day, demanding in fact that we communicate via the written word more now than in any other point in human history. As businesses and news outlets in particular try to create stories that get shared around, the ones who produce the best content continue to come up trumps.

As the internet continuously pumps out more unfiltered digital content, the significance of clear and engaging messages in successful marketing has never been more important. With digital spending growth already representing a quarter of the entire UK marketing economy, the power of good content has never been more important. Good content is credibility, especially on the internet. So whilst the world of communication moves at an incredible pace, it will never race beyond its own reliance on perfectly chosen content.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Christian Borstlap: Louis Vuitton I

An animated film exploring and celebrating the founder of the world's most recognisable luxury label.

"Louis Vuitton’s beginnings in 19th century Paris are vibrantly animated in Christian Borstlap’s new short. Commissioned by NOWNESS for the Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs exhibition that opens at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris on Friday, the film explores the brand’s legacy of innovation through Borstlap’s charming hand-drawn aesthetic. “We were challenged to showcase the heritage of Louis Vuitton as a piece of moving image but we didn’t want a history lesson,” explains Faye Mcleod, Louis Vuitton’s visual creative director. Divided over two floors, the show analyzes the groundbreaking creativity of two men working a century apart, each of whom propelled fashion forward during eras of great change. While the second floor offers a Technicolor tour of Marc Jacobs’s vision since he joined the house in 1997, the first floor examines the story of the brand synonymous with travel and the iconic trunks during Louis Vuitton’s lifetime, as well as his surprising start as a packer of ready to wear. “It was a skill knowing how to pack these enormous dresses and all the different items in ladies’ wardrobes. Some women traveled with 25 trunks,” says Mcleod. The museum’s Curator-in-Chief Pamela Golbin spoke to NOWNESS about the genesis of this unique fashion moment."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pinterest: To be or not to be?

Pinterest is the latest Social Media site to gain astounding attention despite still being in the beta stage of development (i.e. Users can only sign-up and gain access to the site once they have received an invitation from an existing user.) Its growth is reportedly growing faster than any other website has done with the site having recently reached over 2 million members, each connected through either Facebook or Twitter.

Launched in 2012, the brand describes itself as an online pinboard, where users can pin items of interest, such as photos and links into boards which are organised by topic. This simple content-sharing site is visual rather than text based, and though most social media sites more-often-than-not find initial users dominated by tech enthusiasts, Pinterest’s upsurge in popularity is notably from a predominantly female and less digi-savvy clientele.

Their growth has inspired over 100 brands to begin pinning and with Pinterest increasingly driving referral traffic, it’s no wonder that many brands are sitting up and taking note. Indeed in January, Pinterest generated more referral traffic than social media giants LinkedIn, Google+ and Reddit. But should brands be investing their time in the latest social media site on the block or is it just another passing fad with a short life-span?

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg has recently shown his personal interest by signing up via his Facebook account and though little activity is shown on his profile, Zuckerberg will no doubt be keeping a keen eye on the increasingly popular site. Though many big brands are holding back, the companies that are particularly seeing the benefit of Pinterest are generally retailers. This pinboard gives them the opportunity to have their product shown all over the internet at no cost to them and in a non-ad form.

Yet despite the initial surge of popularity and positive attention, recent controversy surrounding the site has resulted in many brands opting to avoid taking advantage of this new wave of referral traffic.
A major factor in this reluctance is the debate over who owns the images. Though “Pinterest etiquette” urges users to credit sources, many brands have rallied against the idea of their content being distributed straight from their website. As a result, Pinterest has this week released code for companies that want to block the pinning of content from their sites to personal pinboards. Pinterest’s service agreement also states that the user must have permission to distribute the content they pin, a factor which most registered members are entirely unaware. These copyright issues were overlooked in the beginning, but have come to light upon the website’s huge growth over the past year.

In addition, critics have recently observed and accused Pinterest of secretly embedding code: When a user pins a link to an e-commerce site which Pinterest has a business relationship with, Pinterest will financially benefits when someone purchases an item that has been pinned. Though many understand Pinterest’s need to somehow monetize their content, others see it as a dishonest move since the brand doesn’t declare this from the offset.

Despite the backlash, Pinterest’s astounding growth and opportunity for many brands is undeniable. The site saw almost 11million visitors in one week in December and was recently announced the 109th most popular site on the internet. Though some brands hold back, others are embedding a “PinIt” button directly onto their website; a virtual nod for people to distribute their content. And despite copyright issues, Pinterest still drives traffic back to the original source even if the pins are not credited by the user.

Pinterest’s approach is a powerful way of organising large amounts of information and could be a wonderful tool for reaching a far greater audience for some brands than ever thought imaginable. However, with opinion on the social media site fluxing on a daily basis, time will tell if the site will still hold our interest by this time next year.

Follow me on Pinterest!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Visual Merchandising at Topshop

I regularly get asked for tips when people are going for job interviews as Visual Merchandisers and I find it difficult to always reply because there is literally so much to be said but I've decided to write up the basics.

I have been a visual merchandiser at Topshop, Mango and for Mary Portas' Creative Marketing Agency so my experience is a bit mixed but since I mainly get asked about Topshop, here's a quick guide of some of the basics(I'll probably add to this as time goes on as this was done in haste).

At your interview they will most likely have you do the following 3 things:

1. Style a mannequin to one of the current Topshop trends which they will tell you. STUDY STUDY STUDY the trends on the website 'til you know them off by heart. Go into a Topshop store before the day of your interview and really look at how they have styled the mannequins. You will likely be given a time limit for each task so visit the store before your interview and really look at where the trends are in the store as this will help you save time when it comes to styling them.

2. VM an area. Again they'll give you a trend (different from the previous one) and probably a few empty different types of fixture/rails. They'll give you a bunch of clothes on the rail and again prob give you 20 minutes to sift through the product to select the best product for that trend and style the rails accordingly. The way I always used to try do it would be to style the first rail in a strong colourway, have the second a step away from the previous colour way but perhaps still using one of the main colours from the first and have the third a different colourway altogether but again perhaps using one of the key colours from the second. I'll give you an example:

Fixture 1 - BrightPink SeaGreen Black White
Fixture 2 - BrightPink DarkBlue Black Cream
Fixture 3 - PalePink Cream Black

So basically keep strong colours together. e.g. Cream and White should be kept seperate. In this case, even though there might be 2 pinks in the trend, since one is BrightPink and the other is Pale, they are kept to seperate fixtures.

On one arm, try to think about an outfit build. The product at the front (in customer's eye line) should be a key trend piece so say it was a dress, you might want to add leggings or a jacket behind it but always be aware of everything a customer sees in their key line of vision should look great. ie. don't put plain black leggings at the front of a rail.

You'll also be expected to add accessories to these rails. Keep it simple but add at least one prong arm to each fixture.

Colour balance is one of the key things to remember, don't over saturate a colour. Spread it around the fixture (or wall) so that from all angles the trend looks strong.

3. Interview. Topshop mainly look for 2 things in their employees: People who have personality and people who've got the customer in mind. Let your personality come out. If you are creative, let them know that but always bear in mind that the aim is to create a great customer experience and help them see how the trend translates into something wearable for them (and therefore commercial for the store). In Topshop they regularly look at key products performance to make sure they put these products in key sightlines for the customer. Be cheery and happy and keen to learn and show what you can do and they'll love you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Branding 10,000 Lakes

In my job, it's part of my duty to have an opinion and give guidance on logo design to the designers in our team before I present them to our clients. I like to think I know a good logo when I see one and yet I can't do graphic design for toffee.

A friend recently showed me a website where one very talented Graphic Designer has made it her personal mission to design a new logo to represent a new Minnesota Lake each day. I could spend hours scrolling through these andwill certainly look to them for inspiration in the future - what a talented and dedicated lady!

Beyoncé: Sartorial Duty