You have just purchased a lovely fixer-upper of a house. It will need renovation from top to bottom. The project can feel overwhelming, so what do you do? You call a general contractor.
For a small premium, they will save you money and time. A general contractor will review your entire building, and provide an audit to prioritize the important renovation. Then, they find and supervise the professionals to get the job done right, and on budget. It’s a cost-benefit to get a job done right — the first time.
When you take a fresh look at your marketing and communications, it too may be overwhelming. A full service vendor can act as a general contractor, and, without the premium, conduct a full-site audit. One objective is to provide a branded approach for all of your communications.
Look and feel
Everything that represents your company should have the same look and feel. That's what defines your corporate identity. If your branding guidelines are out of date, have been compromised by ‘rogue’ designers, (or maybe a creative employee or two) then an update to your branding guidelines may be first on the list.
What else? Maybe your editorial guidelines were never updated to encompass social media. Perhaps they do not address how your branding elements work within mobile applications. Or maybe you are launching a marketing plan that includes a conference booth design that’s not yet referenced. Not only is order resolved from chaos, but the brand guidelines can foster a new form of creativity, one that is more powerful because it conveys your message with a unified voice, look and feel.
When your GC of Marketing and Communications comes onto the job, they will look at the following three areas with respect to their job:
The Vision: Clarity, consistency, corporate Identity
The Mission: Make it right.
The Goal: Create a scope of work with a prioritized action plan, milestones and deadlines.
Then do it.
If you hire a general contractor for your house, they assemble high-performing teams to get the job done. The same holds true for your GC of MarCom.
A full-service agency provides a working environment where teams from creative design, content strategy and applied technology will assess the full scope of a project from the onset. That’s what we mean by internal collaboration. Options and decisions are generated from the ground up, rather than the more expensive backwards approach.
The first consideration is audience(s).
The classic questions are reviewed across a project team:
- Who is the primary audience? Who is the secondary audience, and who are the other stakeholders?
- What does the audience want? Immediate, mid-term, long term time frames.
- What action(s) do we want the audience to take? Immediate, mid-term, and long term time frames.
- How can we determine your ROI? It requires identifying metrics, and putting them to use.
- Who's following your social media, and what are they saying on their posts?
Sophisticated application of technology
- What software best fits the client’s needs?
- Is it scalable? In other words, can it grow as more functionality is required?
- Does it provide the independence a client requests to have control over their website?
- Are there open-source options?
- What impact will it have on the client’s IT department?
- What impact will the choice of technology have on the other two teams — design and content?
Site design — and the user experience
Understanding the audience and the content means that the teams collaborate on your clients will read a communication, and the actions you want them to take.
This is in the domain of the User Interface/User Experience designer. They will ask the following:
- How will the site be used?
- How can we enhance the site visitor’s online experience so that they are not frustrated during the (often brief) time they are on the site?
- How about the navigation? Does it provide a ready path for the user to find what they want?
- How does the content and action items influence design and navigation?
Corporate identity is an immediate consideration.
- Is there a branding guide?
- And if so, how will the design for a new product or service reflect the branding guidelines, while carving out a memorable visual identity of its own?
Just as we address visual branding issues, the team will pay similar attention to the written word.
- Are the messages consistent across the site, and with the sales and public relations team?
- Are they clear and unambiguous?
- How is social media integrated within the site, and,
- Is there room for client feedback?
- Does your social media content address the interests of your followers, and of your target audience?
Content strategy must work hand-in-hand with the site design. Where do we want the reader to go, and what do we want them to do? Visit our information center, or make a personal contact?
The above are just summaries. The areas of consideration overlap. But, with internal collaboration, the results should reflect best practices to make the site a powerful one, that leads to action and can put your house in order.