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The Secrets of Brand-Driven Content Strategy (Workshop)

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Facing feature creep and disagreements among stakeholders? Does your CMO prize modernity and innovation, while the CEO insists on passive voice… but can’t wait to start blogging? Sounds like you ...

Facing feature creep and disagreements among stakeholders? Does your CMO prize modernity and innovation, while the CEO insists on passive voice… but can’t wait to start blogging? Sounds like you need to get a grip on content, the people who make it—and the brand they want to establish.


Brand-driven content strategy can complement your user-centered design techniques, and this workshop will help you get up to speed on the philosophy, questions, tools, and exercises to implement it. You’ll gain practical, hands-on experience by taking sample organisations through a website redesign engagement. First, we’ll conduct a hands-on exercise to prioritise communication goals and develop a message architecture—ideal whether you’re designing for the web, a mobile app, social media, or an offline experience. Discover how a brand attributes cardsort can help you identify potential pitfalls in the engagement and points of disagreement—and then improve organisational alignment around the brand and content.


Next you’ll use this foundation to conduct a qualitative and quantitative content audit. We’ll discuss the content opportunities a gap analysis reveals when we use the message architecture as a metric of quality content. You’ll leave with confidence, savvy, and experience to bring brand-driven content strategy techniques and thinking back to your own organisation.


- Learn how—and why—to establish a hierarchy of communication goals in a message architecture with a hands-on exercise.
- Discuss the right questions to ask—and how to ask them—to minimise distracting, off-brand features, like the blog no one has time to update.
- Use a content audit to evaluate content against the message architecture.
- Gain additional tools to keep your projects on track, on time, and on budget.
- Inform your work with an air-tight approach to better user experiences.


Presented as a workshop at CS Forum 2012, Cape Town South Africa; #CSForum12, October 24, 2012.

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The Secrets of Brand-Driven Content Strategy (Workshop) The Secrets of Brand-Driven Content Strategy (Workshop) Presentation Transcript

  • @mbloomstein 1 Margot Bloomstein CS Forum October 2012 @mbloomsteinThe secrets of brand-drivenCONTENT STRATEGY © 2012 © 2011
  • @mbloomstein 2“ Unless you understand what people are trying to do with your content you cannot know if it’s working or not.” Gerry McGovern © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 3Your serve.And who are you again?  © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 4What is content strategy?Planning for the creation, aggregation,delivery, and governance of useful,usable, and appropriate content in anexperience. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 5Steps along the way…Message architectureContent audit/inventoryPrescriptive content matrixContent modelEditorial style guidelinesMetadata guidelinesGovernance guidelines © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 6Steps along the way…Message architectureContent audit/inventoryPrescriptive content matrixContent modelEditorial style guidelinesMetadata guidelinesGovernance guidelines © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 7Deliverables aremerely punctuation inthe conversation.Don’t let them replacethe conversation. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 8Why content strategy? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 9Why content strategy?Because we all want the same thing,but content keeps getting in the way. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 10First things first.What do you need to communicate? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 11First things first.Why even do this… © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 12First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website, © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 13First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website,let the CEO start blogging, © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 14First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website,let the CEO start blogging, audit thecontent, © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 15First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website,let the CEO start blogging, audit thecontent, start engaging on Twitter, © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 16First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website,let the CEO start blogging, audit thecontent, start engaging on Twitter,consolidate the current site architecture, © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 17First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website,let the CEO start blogging, audit thecontent, start engaging on Twitter,consolidate the current site architecture,add video testimonials, © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 18First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website,let the CEO start blogging, audit thecontent, start engaging on Twitter,consolidate the current site architecture,add video testimonials, incorporate userreviews, © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 19First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website,let the CEO start blogging, audit thecontent, start engaging on Twitter,consolidate the current site architecture,add video testimonials, incorporate userreviews, develop new brand guidelines… © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 20First things first.Why even do this…redesign this website,let the CEO start blogging, audit thecontent, start engaging on Twitter,consolidate the current site architecture,add video testimonials, incorporate userreviews, develop new brand guidelines…if you don’t know what you need tocommunicate? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 21If you don’t know whatyou need to communicate,how will you know if yousucceed? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 22What’s a message architecture?A hierarchy of communication goalsthat reflects a common vocabulary. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 23A little thing with big impact. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 24 A little thing with big impact.“ How could we prove this is a car not like anything else out there? It’s a small car, but it’s premium. You get a Porsche 911 ride for a fifth of the cost. It’s got history… but in Europe. You need to give people content to give them history.” © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 25A little thing with big impact. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 26Message architecturePremium technology• Assertive; ready to perform as a driver’s car• Proactive and supportive of spontaneityClassic design• Experienced and savvyCheekiness• Smart, “punny,” hip• Fun, gleeful © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 27 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 28 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 29 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 30 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 31If these emails are boring youand you don’t mind missing outon all the lip-smackin’ stuffwe’ll be sending in the future,simply send a message to owner-unsubscribe@insiders.miniusa.comand include “Unsubscribe” andyour favorite fruit in thesubject field. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 32Message architecture drivesthe user experience © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 33…in contentNomenclatureCalls to actionInstructional contentSentence structureDiction © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 34…and in designPhotographic anglesDark backgroundsBold headlinesThick stroke weights © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 35…and in the choice of featuresand content types © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 36What’s a message architecture?A hierarchy of communication goalsthat reflects a common vocabulary. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 37What’s a message architecture?Concrete, shared terminology,not abstract concepts. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 38Welcoming,but elite.Selective? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 39Accessible,open, andpremiere. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 40Words are valuable,but meaningless withoutcontext and priority.(In a few minutes, we’llgive them context.) © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 41Why do this?Words are cheaper than comps. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 42Why do this?Let creative colleagues refine the concept,rather than confirm the purpose. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 43How?• Engage in a tangible, hands-on way• Encourage debate and conversation• Identify points of disagreement• Prevent seagulling• Force prioritization• Encourage ownership & investment © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 44Cardsorting• Groups of 7• Pick 2 people to represent the brand• Everyone else: put on your content strategy hats! © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 45 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 46CardsortingStep one:• Who we are• Who we’re not• Who we’d like to beGo with your gut for about 20 minutes. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 47 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 48CardsortingStep two:• Who we are  Who we’d like to beThink aspirational.What needs to change?~10 minutes © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 49CardsortingStep three:• Form groups: what goes together?• Prioritize the goals or groups• Tell the story of those aspirations~10 minutes © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 50Why do this?Gain standards by which to conducta qualitative audit.(What is “good” anyway?) © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 51Why do this?Sell new content types to manifest themessage architecture—not just becausethey’re trendy. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 52So where to from here?Content audit: measure quality againstthe aspirational attributes in the messagearchitecture. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 53So where to from here?New content types: prioritize featuresagainst the new communication goals.Experience? Portfolio.Trust and responsiveness? Testimonials. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 54Audit time! © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 55The organizationEstablished and premiere• Founded in 1896• International reputation for depth in several areas • Not really a “destination” for tourists—but definitely for academics and researchersTrusted• Known for research among competitors, but not local audience• Target audience is loyal, but places greater appreciation in its tradition and history than modern updatesKid-friendly• Seen as ideal for family visits, school field trips, but relatively unknown for adult applicability within the local target audience © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 56Message architectureEngaged and curious• Creating knowledge by supporting rigorous scientific research and disseminating information• Driving the public discussion to promote stewardship• Comprehensive in questions, open-minded in answersWelcoming• Accessible “for ages 5 – 95”• Relevant, tailoredApplicable and relevant• Practical; engaged & empathizing with the community• Immediate, cutting-edge, and “in touch”Innovative• Ends > means in research, development, and engagement © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 57 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 58Engaged & curious? Welcoming? Applicable & relevant? Innovative? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 59Engaged & curious? Welcoming? Applicable & relevant? Innovative? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 60 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 61 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 62Engaged & curious? Welcoming? Applicable & relevant? Innovative? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 63Audit to understand what youhave and what you need.Don’t just do it for fun.Before you can start, you needto know why.What are you trying to learn? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 64 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 65Each section* gets its own tab. © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 66Every tab tracks the same dataQuantitative:• Head count: what do we have?• Is it consistent? • Are similar content types consistent in size and structure? • Is there parity of length, level of detail, and tone? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 67 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 68Every tab tracks the same dataQualitative: is it any good?• ROT analysis: redundant, outdated, trivial• Current, relevant, and appropriate to the message architecture• Does it serve the communication goals?• Does it speak to the target audience? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 69 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 70Each piece of content gets a rowSet up dropdowns to constrain data• Data  Data validation  List  Sources © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 71 © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 72What will you learn?• What do we have?• Is it any good?• Do people even like it? (Check analytics!)• What do we need to update?• What do we need to translate?• Where do we need more? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 73What will you learn?• What do we have?• Is it any good?• Do people even like it? (Check analytics!)• What do we need to update?• What do we need to translate?• Where do we need more? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 74Steps along the way…Message architectureContent audit/inventoryPrescriptive content matrixContent modelEditorial style guidelinesMetadata guidelinesGovernance guidelines © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 75Steps along the way…Message architectureContent audit/inventoryPrescriptive content matrixContent model Gap analysisEditorial style guidelinesMetadata guidelinesGovernance guidelines © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 76Steps along the way…Message architectureContent audit/inventoryPrescriptive content matrixContent model Gap analysisEditorial style guidelines HowMetadata guidelinesGovernance guidelines © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 77Steps along the way…Message architectureContent audit/inventoryPrescriptive content matrixContent model Gap analysisEditorial style guidelines HowMetadata guidelinesGovernance guidelinesBy whom & when © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 78But first things first:What are you trying tocommunicate?What content do you have andwhat do you need to do that? © 2012
  • @mbloomstein 79Thank you!Margot Bloomstein@mbloomsteinmargot@appropriateinc.comslideshare.net/mbloomsteinamzn.to/CSatWorkTitle image: http://flickr.com/KandyJaxxAll other images property of their respective owners or public domain. © 2012