Your most important content design isn’t what you think it is
Where does your brand invest most of its creative resources? Probably in high-profile content: your large campaigns, advertisements, and articles for lead generation. Since these are the most visible (and have the most money behind them), this is where your brand needs to shine the most, right? Not always.
While a flashy new video may convince your Instagram followers to ring your doorbell, it’s the much less glamorous content that will keep them moving along the buying journey. Items like newsletters, presentations, eBooks, sales materials, and other miscellaneous pieces of content are just as crucial to your brand’s experience, sometimes even more so than big ticket items. Yet when it comes to design, this content is often overlooked, under-designed, or ignored entirely.
If you’re trying to create a seamless branding experience that effortlessly delivers customers from brand awareness to purchase, design that you don’t think doesn’t matter may be the only thing holding you back.
Content design is a brand experience
While we often think of the brand experience as customer service or the performance of a product, every interaction a person has with your brand is part of your brand experience. This also extends to content.
In big and small ways, your content communicates a lot about your brand: the copy, format, design all reflect who you are, what you do, and how you run your business. If you’re unintentional about it, you might be sending messages that you don’t want to send.
We have seen these problems both inside and outside of organizations. For brands, it looks like …
- The business presentation that brings Frankenstein together every time you have a new customer to introduce.
- The sales brochure full of stock images.
- The generic CTA on your website.
- The annual report sec.
And that’s just for external communication. Content design can also be an important part of your employer brand experience, influencing employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention rates. This content is notoriously overlooked, despite being something that employees consume on a regular basis. Looks like …
- The less than inspired About Us page.
- The boring announcement of your next team event.
- The stock company greeting card.
- The text-only employee manual.
Creating a cohesive and engaging brand experience is key to lasting success, but if that content isn’t designed consistently, you’re missing out on major opportunities to differentiate yourself, connect with people, and force them to. become a longtime fan (or dedicated employee). At worst, you are actively degrading the integrity of your brand. Neglecting the power of design can even affect your bottom line. (According to research from Motiv and DMI, design-driven companies outperform the S&P 500 by 228%.)
The power of good content design
So what exactly is good content design? It’s about designing content in a way that increases its appeal, comprehension, and retention, which will help you build a lasting relationship with your audience.
- Appeal: Let’s say you’re exploring a brand’s website and want to learn more. You probably don’t want to go looking for their contact details. Instead, a very visual, intuitively placed CTA would 1) grab your attention and 2) enhance your experience by giving you the next step (instead of wasting energy to find it).
- Comprehension: Good content design can transform the way you communicate. When done right, you make it easier, if not pleasant, for people to synthesize the information you give them. Would you like a text-only manual to walk you through the instructions for programming your new device, or would you prefer a cute illustration that walks you through each step? Since the brain processes visual information much faster than textual communication, a solid design can help you communicate better with people (regardless of their learning style).
- Retention: In a competitive market, you want to stand out. Good content design can foster an instant connection by creating an emotional moment. We’ve all experienced a burst of joy in the face of surprising branded content, whether it’s the confirmation email that made you laugh (native deodorant cry) or the nifty copy on a CTA (Cards Against Humanity invites you. to submit your bad idea). This type of content creates momentary respite from a busy day and makes you want to engage with the brand even more. The more your brand can use design to create these moments, the more memorable you will be. Whether your audience becomes a customer immediately or within a year, this is the first step in creating a lasting relationship.
Example: The About Ben & Jerry’s page is the perfect example of how content design can transform seemingly boring content. Instead of a dry mission statement, we can navigate through a playful, entertaining and creative timeline of company history. (By the way, we stumbled across this page over a year ago and still think about it – let’s talk about a memorable content experience.)
Likewise, the About Everlane page offers interactive data visualizations that break down the price of their clothing against the industry standard. This simple visual element communicates their brand philosophy and lets you see the value they offer, at a significantly lower price.
While these two brand stories could have been communicated through text alone, adding a visual layer elevates the content and has a stronger impact.
Start with the end in mind
“Beginning with the End in Mind” is Habit # 2 in Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you want people to have a good impression of you from the start (and to maintain that impression every step of the way in the buying journey), consider how your entire content ecosystem is supporting that experience or not. .
This is crucial, especially for early stage outreach content, which is often the first way people encounter your brand. The microdecisions you make regarding this content design can have lasting effects.
Some things to consider when auditing your content design:
- Can you present more design? Beyond what is present in a creative brief, there may be more opportunities to turn the text into compelling visuals. Think about how the format and visuals can enhance the viewer experience. (Here’s how to use design to communicate more effectively.)
- Who oversees the design of the content? Things often fall through the cracks because no one is specifically responsible for overseeing it or because people do not feel empowered to take ownership. Identifying stakeholders is essential. (This is an area where brand teams can be particularly useful. Learn more about how to build a brand team that will grow your business.)
- Do you treat all content the same? Granted, every piece of content you create may not require as much human power to produce, but every piece of content should be treated with the same level of analysis. Who is the audience? What do they need to know? Which format is the most efficient? How to add personality to your brand? What next step do you want them to take? How can design support these goals?
- Can you design more efficiently? Even if you have limited resources, there are templates, tools, checklists, and other resources that can make it easy for your team to reproduce all kinds of branded content. (For example, Face is a convenient way to create data visualizations and other content. You can also learn to master your content creation process)
Ultimately, building and developing a strong brand through content is a learning process. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect and that you will continue to evolve as your business goals change. Even if you have many areas for improvement, prioritize one and go from there. What matters most is knowing the experience you want to deliver and then taking the necessary steps to make it happen.