Have you ever wondered how brands manage to push out memes at the speed of light? Or how something can happen on live TV and brand accounts are tweeting about it two minutes later?
Things are in constant motion these days. People are consuming content at an incredible rate and if your brand is to keep up, you’ve got to have a great plan and process in place for knocking out quality content quickly.
That’s why one of our favorite hacks for keeping your creative assets organized and your design team working efficiently is a content studio. With a content studio, your brand can be the one to step up to the plate at the drop of a hat.
A content studio is simply an organized collection of assets that a brand has on hand and ready to go. This includes logos, color cheat sheets, pre-made graphics with changeable text, landing page templates and more. There’s no wrong asset to manage in a content studio as long as it fits your brand and can be easily edited for quick publishing.
Telling your brand’s story creatively through various forms of content (video, memes, articles, photo galleries, etc.) is one of the best ways to capture your audience’s attention. Doing that takes strategic planning, with easy access to marketing assets.
These assets should be easily accessible to anyone who needs them no matter where they are. Many people are working remotely now, and it can be impossible to access servers outside the office, so it’s a good idea to house your content studio with software like Adobe Creative Cloud.
Pumping out a ton of content can seem like you’re sprinting on a speeding treadmill, trying to keep from flying off the back end. But a content studio gives you a way to pull pictures, snippets of text or video clips together instantly with everything already approved and on brand.
Today, it’s not quality over quantity, it’s quality and quantity that consumers are demanding. They want that really on-brand, polished, elevated piece, but they want it right now. A content studio allows you to have the tools to deliver both those things. It gives you the ability to sprint on that treadmill when you need it.
The short answer: anything you want! The point of a content studio is to keep all the bricks on hand for when you’re ready to build the house. You can use the assets in your content studio to create any of the following:
Sit down and make a plan before you spring into action. What does your brand need more of? Less of? What assets do you already have on hand? Where are they stored?
See if you have assets (and if so, what kind) based on your buyer personas or areas of opportunity that you’ve identified. If you have gaps, note them so that you can start filling them in with content. That may mean leveraging items you already have or you may discover that you need new photography that speaks to a specific industry, or some new messaging that speaks to a certain consumer segment.
The most important thing you should leave this step with is a list of identified key assets that you will need to create or gather into one communal space.
What goes into this step depends entirely on that list you generated in step one. You may need to go as far as shooting a large piece of video content that you can break apart and use for future content needs. Video, in particular, can take a long time to produce from scratch. But having B-roll on hand of your product, your environment and people using your services goes a long way toward building out a video clip. Having standard, branded intros and outros for videos is another way to stay consistent and pull together a quick video with a solid message.
After video, if you have not already created or edited certain graphics like logo applications, type styles or product images you should do this now. Then create photo and video templates that can be easily edited and reused. Make something you can drop into Adobe Premiere Pro or Rush and quickly change out text or imagery.
Party time! Invite all the assets you want in your content studio over for a soiree (you can ask the assets you already produced in step 2 to handle food and decorations). The goal here is to get everything in one place, i.e. a shared Adobe Library or other cloud storage platform. You can also use Canva here to store certain photo-based templates.
One of the biggest tips to remember here is naming conventions. Everyone’s brain works differently, and if you leave every person on their team to their own devices, you’ll end up with chaos, i.e. 100 folders when you need ten, mystery files with indecipherable names and files lost to time. Be sure to establish a folder structure and file naming system in advance to avoid confusion later on.
Share the asset gallery you created in step 3 with everyone on your team. No one should get left behind here, so we recommend sending out a follow up announcement or email to double check that everyone who wanted an invite to the cloud got one.
Next create a usage style guide detailing how to properly use the assets you’ve tucked away. This is like a brand style guide in that it gives you the dos and don’ts of your content. For example, you could specify that the font size on certain templates should always remain the same. Or that you have a certain amount of flexibility with your organic social graphics, but you shouldn’t go beyond specified restrictions. This is basically the rulebook for your content studio. It should also be stored in the content studio cloud for easy access.
Your content studio, like most things in marketing, is not a one-and-done situation. Pre-define a set interval of time before you will revisit your content studio library and give it a little refresh. Make sure your assets are still updated and relevant and add anything missing to the cloud.
This should be done annually at the very least, but preferably quarterly. Your content studio check-in frequency really depends on the shelf life of your campaigns. If you switch campaigns every month, you should be updating your content studio more often. And you should always take stock of the studio after a huge rebrand or big campaign change!
There are typically two ways companies go about building their content studio: all at once, or over time. There are pros and cons to each method.
Going all-in means a significant amount of effort aimed at developing a robust, all-inclusive content library. You identify all the pieces you need and decide to invest the time and funds into creating everything immediately. You then have it for the rest of the calendar year and into the future.
The downside, of course, is that it’s a lot of effort right up front to generate everything, and it can be expensive. And some companies, especially middle-market companies, may not have the internal resources or budget to do that, especially on top of daily work.
The alternative is a more slow and steady approach. Organize all your assets, identify gaps and then as time allows, start to generate more content. Using past product photography and imagery used in previous campaigns, you can create some templates that you can reuse and you just generate it all as the year goes on. The pro side of that is there’s less effort and expense right up front. That’s spread out across the whole year, so nobody’s breaking their budget on Q1. The downside of that is that you may not have enough content to meet your needs right away.
There’s also a hybrid approach where you can bring in a third party to generate the beginnings of your content studio, and then they give you the keys and you have all the assets you leverage throughout the year. Together, you can build on the inventory on a continuous basis.
As content studios become less of a “nice-to-have” and more of a “must have,” putting a strategy in place and getting started is something you should be thinking about now, if you haven’t already.
Demand for content isn’t going away anytime soon, and smart companies have already started streamlining their assets for more efficient production. Have you?
About the author::Joe Cola, who sadly has no connection to the world famous brand, Coca-Cola, is the Art Director at thunder::tech. When he isn't designing, Joe loves going to the zoo or the metroparks. He also considers himself a "dinosaur expert."
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