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Brand-driven Content Strategy: Developing a Message Architecture at Confab Intensive

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Brand-driven content strategy complements user-centered design, and this workshop will help you get up to speed on the philosophy, questions, tools, and exercises to implement it. We’ll conduct a hands-on exercise to prioritize communication goals and develop a message architecture—ideal whether you maintain content for the Web, mobile apps, social media, or offline experiences.

Eager for more efficient engagements? You’ll also discover how a brand-attributes card sort can help you identify potential pitfalls and points of disagreement while you improve organizational alignment. Then use this foundation to conduct a qualitative and quantitative content audit. We’ll discuss the content opportunities a gap analysis can reveal when we use the message architecture as a metric of quality. Trying to manage scope creep? What about seagulling stakeholders? And what content matters most, anyhow? These questions and other challenges drive content strategy, and the business issues beyond it. What if you need to empower a team, wrangle a client, and rally everyone around a common vocabulary for your primary navigation? No matter your title, it’s time to embrace content strategy, starting with the message architecture.

Presented as a three-hour workshop at Confab Intensive, #ConfabINT, in Portland OR on August 31, 2015.

Published in: Marketing, Business
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Brand-driven Content Strategy: Developing a Message Architecture at Confab Intensive

  1. Margot Bloomstein Confab Intensive 083115 #ConfabINT @mbloomstein
  2. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 2 © 2015 Content demands attention
  3. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 3 © 2015 Because we all want the same thing, but content keeps getting in the way. (CC) http://www.flickr.com/photos/slworking Content requires time
  4. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 4 © 2015 Content dredges up politics © Margot Bloomstein
  5. This is your job now.
  6. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 6 © 2015 ©Skillset.org
  7. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 7 © 2015 Titles < Roles < Skills ©Skillset.org
  8. © The Creative Group
  9. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 10 © 2015
  10. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 11 © 2015 Content and design— and the processes to create them— complement each other through content strategy. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 11
  11. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 12 © 2015 Content and design— and the processes to create them— complement each other through content strategy. But they require a foundation and vision. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 12
  12. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 13 © 2015 Message architecture Content audit Content types Content model Editorial style guidelines and calendar
  13. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 14 © 2015 What is content strategy? Planning for the creation, aggregation, and governance of content that’s useful, usable, and appropriate in an experience.
  14. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 15 © 2015 Steps along the way… Message architecture Content audit/inventory Prescriptive content matrix Content model Editorial style guidelines Metadata guidelines Governance guidelines
  15. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 16 © 2015 Deliverables are merely punctuation in the conversation. They can’t replace the conversation— and too often, we’re afraid to talk.
  16. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 17 Why content strategy?
  17. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 18 Why content strategy? Because we all want the same thing, but content keeps getting in the way.
  18. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 19 Why content strategy? Launch on time
  19. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 20 Why content strategy? Stay within budget
  20. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 21 Why content strategy? Maintain a consistent user experience visually and verbally, across channels
  21. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 22 Why content strategy? Without the team killing each other over differences in opinion and changing goals
  22. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 23 © 2015 This doesn’t need to be hard. Good content doesn’t need to be expensive to plan, time-consuming to create, or difficult to maintain. That’s content without content strategy.
  23. More like Apple.
  24. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 26 © 2015 More like Apple’s message architecture Confident but approachable; accessible Simple • Minimal detail • Streamlined and anticipatory Inviting, friendly • Supportive but not fawning
  25. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 27 © 2015
  26. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 28 © 2015 Gracious and engaged • Welcoming, anticipatory service Elite and premium • Selective membership • “Curated” experiences Traditional • Enduring heritage • Preserving appreciation for quality Message architecture?
  27. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 29 © 2015 Innovative Global Inclusive Engaged Translating Harvard’s principles
  28. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 30 © 2015
  29. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 31 © 2015 Message architecture Cheeky • Witty and fun • Young without being childish Customer oriented and responsive • Approachable, friendly, and empowering Helpful • Accessible
  30. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 32 © 2015
  31. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 33 © 2015
  32. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 34 © 2015 From: Little MOO | Print Robot <noreply@moo.com> Subject: MOO | Order 0629312615 | Confirmed Hello I'm Little MOO - the bit of software that will be managing your order with moo.com. It will shortly be sent to Big MOO, our print machine who will print it for you in the next few days. I'll let you know when it's done and on its way to you. Remember, I'm just a bit of software. So, if you have any questions regarding your order please first read our Frequently Asked Questions or contact customer services (who are real people!) Thanks, Little MOO, Print Robot
  33. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 35 © 2015 Message architecture vs. brand values? 1. Cheeky 2. Customer oriented 3. Helpful Design Innovation Community Excellence (Inspiring, but lack priority)
  34. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 36 © 2015 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary.
  35. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 37 © 2015 First things first. Why start blogging, audit the content, consolidate site architecture, add video testimonials, relaunch the site, develop new brand guidelines, launch a new campaign, or go “mobile first”… if you don’t know what’s most important to communicate?
  36. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 38 © 2015 If you don’t know what to communicate, how will you know if you succeed?
  37. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 39 © 2015 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary.
  38. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 40 © 2015 A little thing with big impact.
  39. 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.”
  40. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 42 © 2015 A little thing with big impact.
  41. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 43 © 2015 Message architecture Premium technology • Assertive; ready to perform as a driver’s car • Proactive and supportive of spontaneity Classic design • Experienced and savvy Cheekiness • Smart, “punny,” hip • Fun, gleeful
  42. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 44 © 2015
  43. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 45 © 2015
  44. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 46 © 2015
  45. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 47 © 2015
  46. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 48 © 2015 If these emails are boring you and you don’t mind missing out on all the lip-smackin’ stuff we’ll be sending in the future, simply send a message to owner- unsubscribe@insiders.miniusa.com and include “Unsubscribe” and your favorite fruit in the subject field.
  47. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 49 © 2015 Message architecture drives the user experience
  48. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 50 © 2015 Nomenclature Calls to action Instructional content Sentence structure Diction …in content
  49. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 51 © 2015 Photographic angles Dark backgrounds Bold headlines Thick stroke weights …and in design
  50. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 52 © 2015 …and in the prioritization and coordination of features and content types.
  51. Content strategy creates harmony, not cacophony, across channels.
  52. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 54 © 2015 Not all channels fit all brands. Serious and technical? • Annual reports • Articles on your site • Articles on other sites • Blogs • Books • Branded tools • Case studies • Digital magazines • eBooks • Email newsletters • Facebook posts • Games • In-person events • Infographics • Licensed/syndicated content • LinkedIn posts • Microsites • Mobile apps • Online presentations • Podcasts • Print magazines • Print newsletters • Research reports • Twitter • Videos • Virtual conferences • Webinars/webcasts • Whitepapers Per Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs 2013 Content Marketing Survey
  53. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 55 © 2015 Not all channels fit all brands. Fun and engaged? • Annual reports • Articles on your site • Articles on other sites • Blogs • Books • Branded tools • Case studies • Digital magazines • eBooks • Email newsletters • Facebook posts • Games • In-person events • Infographics • Licensed/syndicated content • LinkedIn posts • Microsites • Mobile apps • Online presentations • Podcasts • Print magazines • Print newsletters • Research reports • Twitter • Videos • Virtual conferences • Webinars/webcasts • Whitepapers Per Content Marketing Institute & MarketingProfs 2013 Content Marketing Survey
  54. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 56 © 2015
  55. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 57 © 2015 Premium • Lindt embodies quality, in product, marketing, & company interactions • Approachable: Quality indulgences are more accessible • Trusted in brand and quality Empowering • Entrepreneurial: Innovating, championing individuals and successes • Market driving: strategic and proactive • Professional and consistent through experience and being responsive Community-minded • Engaged with the Lindt family • Customer-oriented • Socially conscious Message architecture
  56. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 58 © 2015 Message architecture drives a consistent user experience, visually and verbally.
  57. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 59 © 2015 Elegant layout and typography • Spread-to-spread sightlines and flow • Wider borders • Layered background images • Italic titles with initial drop caps
  58. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 60 © 2015 Imagery of individual impact • People engaged with product and service— not just product or just results of service • Diversity of role, gender, ethnicity, and age
  59. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 61 © 2015 Accessible, informative copy • First-person plural • Frequent rhetorical asides • Shorter sentences • Clear, concrete explanations
  60. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 62 © 2015 Message architecture Content audit Content types Content model Editorial style guidelines and calendar
  61. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 64 © 2015 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary.
  62. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 65 © 2015 What’s a message architecture? Concrete, shared terminology, not abstract concepts.
  63. Welcoming, but elite. Selective?
  64. Welcoming, but elite. Inclusive?
  65. Welcoming, but elite. Exclusive?
  66. Traditional, but edgy.
  67. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 70 © 2015
  68. You like your jargon more than communication.
  69. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 72 © 2015 Words are valuable, but meaningless without context and priority.
  70. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 73 © 2015 How? • Engage in a tangible, hands-on way • Encourage debate and conversation • Identify points of disagreement • Prevent seagulling • Force prioritization • Encourage ownership & investment
  71. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 74 © 2015
  72. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 75 © 2015 Cardsorting • Tables of 8 • 3 people represent the brand • 5 people consult on content strategy
  73. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 76 © 2015 • Who we are • Who we’re not • Who we’d like to be Go with your gut! Step 1
  74. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 77 © 2015 Who we are  Who we’d like to be Be aspirational. What needs to change? Step 2
  75. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 78 © 2015 • Form groups: what goes together? • Prioritize the goals or groups • Tell the story of those aspirations Step 3
  76. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 79 © 2015 Why do this? Words are cheaper than comps.
  77. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 80 © 2015 Why do this? Content creation, organization, and governance all need a strong foundation.
  78. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 81 © 2015 Why do this? Choose content types to manifest the message architecture— not just because they’re trendy.
  79. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 82 © 2015 And beyond… • Gain standards by which to conduct a qualitative audit. What is “good” anyway? • Determine keywords for SEO • Prioritize CMS changes to support content • Reallocate budget and resources across channels
  80. @mbloomstein | #ConfabINT 83 © 2015 But first things first: Understand what you need to communicate—and why.
  81. Margot Bloomstein @mbloomstein margot@appropriateinc.com slideshare.net/mbloomstein All photography © Margot Bloomstein unless noted. Screen grabs property of their respective owners.

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