Establishing a Brand-Driven Message Architecture Workshop at HOW

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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 design for the web, mobile apps, social media, or offline experiences.

Eager for more efficient engagements? You’ll also discover how a brand attributes cardsort 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 reveals 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; they’re basic issues to any designer planning for content. But what if you’re not a content strategist? 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.

You’ll leave with the savvy and experience to bring brand-driven content strategy techniques and thinking into your own work.

Presented as two sold-out workshops at HOW Design Live, #HOWLive, May 12, 2014 in Boston.

Published in: Design, Technology, Business

Establishing a Brand-Driven Message Architecture Workshop at HOW

  1. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 1 © 2014© 2014 Establishing a brand-driven message architecture Margot Bloomstein HOW Design Live 051214 @mbloomstein #HOWLive
  2. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 2 © 2014 Oh HEY effective content & design!
  3. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 3 © 2014 Content and design— and processes to create them— best complement each other through content strategy. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 3
  4. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 4 What is content strategy? Planning for the creation, aggregation, delivery, and governance of useful, usable, and appropriate content in an experience.
  5. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 5 You need this.
  6. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 6 © 2014 © narniafans.com Get a seat at the table.
  7. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 7 © 2014 Content demands attention
  8. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 8 © 2014 Because we all want the same thing, but content keeps getting in the way. Content requires time
  9. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 9 © 2014 Content dredges up politics
  10. This is your job now.
  11. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 11 © 2014 ©Skillset.org
  12. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 12 © 2014 Titles < Roles < Skills ©Skillset.org
  13. © The Creative Group
  14. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 15 © 2014 Steps along the way… Message architecture Content audit/inventory Prescriptive content matrix Content model Editorial style guidelines Metadata guidelines Governance guidelines
  15. Deliverables are merely punctuation in the conversation. They can’t replace the conversation.
  16. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 17 Why content strategy?
  17. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 18 Why content strategy? Because we all want the same thing, but content keeps getting in the way.
  18. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 19 Why content strategy? Launch on time
  19. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 20 Why content strategy? Stay within budget
  20. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 21 Why content strategy? Maintain a consistent user experience visually and verbally, across channels
  21. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 22 Why content strategy? Without the team killing each other over differences in opinion and changing goals
  22. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 23 © 2014 This can be yours.
  23. More like Apple.
  24. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 27 © 2014 More like Apple’s “message architecture” Confident but approachable; accessible Simple Minimal detail Streamlined and anticipatory Inviting, friendly Supportive but not fawning
  25. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 28 © 2014 Message architecture Cheeky • Witty and fun • Young without being childish Customer oriented and responsive • Approachable, friendly • Championing and empowering Helpful • Accessible
  26. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 29 © 2014
  27. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 30 © 2014
  28. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 31 © 2014 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
  29. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 32 © 2014 Message architecture… Cheeky Customer oriented and responsive Helpful
  30. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 33 © 2014 Versus brand values?
  31. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 34 © 2014 Versus a mission or vision? “Great design for everyone” Vision and direction are different. This inspires, but isn’t tactical.
  32. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 35 © 2014
  33. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 36 © 2014 Gracious • Welcoming, anticipatory service Elite and premium • Selective membership • “Curated” experiences Traditional • Enduring heritage • Preserving appreciation for quality Message architecture?
  34. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 37 © 2014
  35. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 38 © 2014 First things first. What do you need to communicate?
  36. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 39 © 2014 First things first. start blogging, audit the content, consolidate site architecture, add video testimonials, incorporate reviews, relaunch the site, develop new brand guidelines, switch to a new CMS, or go “mobile first”…
  37. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 40 If you don’t know what you need to communicate, how will you know if you succeed?
  38. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 41 © 2014 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary.
  39. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 42 © 2014 A little thing with big impact.
  40. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 43 © 2014 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.”
  41. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 44 © 2014 A little thing with big impact.
  42. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 45 © 2014 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
  43. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 46 © 2014
  44. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 47 © 2014
  45. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 48 © 2014
  46. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 49 © 2014
  47. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 50 © 2014 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.
  48. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 51 © 2014 Message architecture drives the user experience
  49. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 52 © 2014 Nomenclature Calls to action Instructional content Sentence structure Diction …in content
  50. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 53 © 2014 Photographic angles Dark backgrounds Bold headlines Thick stroke weights …and in design
  51. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 54 © 2014 Premium technology Classic design Cheekiness • Smart, “punny,” hip • Fun, gleeful …in the choice of features and content types
  52. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 55 © 2014
  53. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 56 © 2014
  54. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 57 © 2014 Not all channels are appropriate for every brand or audience. • 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
  55. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 58 © 2014 Not all channels are appropriate for every brand or audience. • 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
  56. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 59 © 2014
  57. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 60 © 2014 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
  58. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 61 © 2014 Message architecture drives a consistent user experience, visually and verbally.
  59. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 62 © 2014
  60. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 63 © 2014 Elegant layout and typography • Spread-to-spread sightlines and flow • Wider borders • Layered background images • Italic titles with initial drop caps • Serif body copy
  61. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 64 © 2014
  62. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 65 © 2014 Imagery of individual impact • People engaged with product and offsite community service—not just product or just results of service • Team breadth and diversity of role, gender, ethnicity, and age
  63. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 66 © 2014
  64. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 67 © 2014 Accessible, informative copy • First-person plural • Frequent rhetorical asides • Shorter sentences • Clear, concrete explanations
  65. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 68 © 2014
  66. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 69 © 2014 Message architecture Content audit Content types Content model & matrix Editorial style guidelines and calendar
  67. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 70 © 2014 What’s a message architecture? A hierarchy of communication goals that reflects a common vocabulary.
  68. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 71 © 2014 What’s a message architecture? Concrete, shared terminology, not abstract concepts.
  69. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 72 © 2014 Welcoming, but elite. Selective?
  70. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 73 © 2014 Accessible, open, and premiere.
  71. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 74 © 2014 Traditional, but edgy.
  72. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 75 © 2014
  73. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 76 © 2014 Words are valuable, but meaningless without context and priority. (In a few minutes, we’ll give them context.)
  74. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 77 © 2014 How? • Engage in a tangible, hands-on way • Encourage debate and conversation • Identify points of disagreement • Prevent seagulling • Force prioritization • Encourage ownership & investment
  75. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 78 © 2014
  76. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 79 © 2014 Cardsorting • Groups of 7 – 10 • Pick 4 people to represent the brand • Everyone else: put on your content strategy hats!
  77. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 80 © 2014
  78. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 81 © 2014 • Who we are • Who we’re not • Who we’d like to be Go with your gut! Step 1
  79. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 82 © 2014 Who we are  Who we’d like to be Be aspirational. What needs to change? Step 2
  80. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 83 © 2014 • Form groups: what goes together? • Prioritize the goals or groups • Tell the story of those aspirations Step 3
  81. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 84 Why do this? Words are cheaper than comps.
  82. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 85 Why do this? Refine the concept, rather than confirm the purpose.
  83. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 86 Why do this? Choose content types to manifest the message architecture— not just because they’re trendy.
  84. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 87 But first things first: Understand what you need to communicate—and why.
  85. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 88 © 2014 But wait there’s MORE!
  86. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 89 © 2014
  87. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 90 © 2014 #contentstrategy & meetup.com
  88. @mbloomstein | #HOWLive 91 © 2014 Thank you! Margot Bloomstein @mbloomstein margot@appropriateinc.com slideshare.net/mbloomstein amzn.to/CSatWork All photography © Margot Bloomstein unless otherwise noted. Screen grabs property of their respective owners at time of capture.

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