Because the best marketers deserve great content.
How to Structure Your Brand’s Creativity
Creativity demands process. Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel within the charcoal lines of a stencil. Homer wrote The Iliad within the structured verse of iambic pentameter. Igor Stravinsky composed The Rite of Spring within the self-imposed restraint of irregular time signatures.
All of this is to say, creativity demands process—and structure.
Fast forward to today. The tools we use to create are defined by technology. How can today’s creators ensure their digital processes include structures analogous to the ones they imposed on themselves in the past?
At Percolate, we use two lenses to define and enforce such structures through technology: brand consistency and brand strategy.
The first is something that’s been discussed on the Percolate blog at length—its challenges, its necessity, its executions. Brand consistency means that all of a brand’s content adheres to the same visual style, increasing its mental availability with consumers. When a customer is browsing the store aisle, deciding on a purchase, it’s the brand with the highest mental availability that gets noticed first.
Marketers can manage and track brand consistency through technology. For instance, for our Enterprise Services clients, we assess each piece of published content with a series of binary tests.
- Does the image include a logo?
- Is the logo properly placed?
- Is the image cropped appropriately for the specific publishing platform?
- Does the image use the appropriate brand assets (font, color, tagline)?
- Does the image comply with any federal regulations that apply to the featured product?
Each of these prompts is a binary gate, streamlined by technology to ensure brand content stays consistent. Consistency means higher mental availability with customers—the next time they’re in the store, the brand is easier to recognize and find.
The second creative lens we use is brand strategy. If brand consistency addresses a brand’s visual distinctiveness and salience, strategy is all about a brand’s persuasive associations—once you’ve recognized a brand, what do you think or how do you feel about it? When you see the Nike swoosh and immediately think, “Just Do It”: that’s brand association.
These associations, or memory structures, are shaped by customer loyalty, product promotions, status signals, and other methods brands implement to alter the way they are perceived by consumers.
Today’s leading brands are using process and structure in technology to drive brand strategy. Keith Weed, CMO of Unilever, summarizes his approach to building a structure for brand strategy:
“Marketing leaders must ask, ‘What values and goals guide our brand strategy, what capabilities drive marketing excellence, and what structures and ways of working will support them?’ Structure must follow strategy—not the other way around.”
It’s hard to do that—unless you break brand strategy down into components that you can manage automatically with software.
At Percolate, we follow this model by working with clients to first gain an understanding of their brand strategy and then building that strategy into our system.
First, we identify a client’s brand pillars and add them into Percolate as topics, allowing brands to categorize the content they create by their highest-level messaging priorities. Building topics into a platform also lets us track the reach, engagement, and engagement rate for content in those categories, giving a brand visibility into how its pillars perform against one another.
Additional brand considerations are mapped into our system as systemic brand prompts, which give brand and community managers insight into how the brand’s objectives apply to the content they create every day. Does the content relate to a specific promotion or event? Does it support the local community? Is it something that is easily shared?
CMOs and marketing directors scale their brand strategy across markets and products, making it easy for teams to see its relevance within their content production workflows.
When Creativity Meets Technology
Creative structure in technology lets marketers be creative within the parameters defined by their brand strategy. At the same time, it gives managers a view into the data underneath this creative process. How often is a brand compliant with its own predetermined rules? Is its content consistent in a way that is distinctive and salient? Is its strategy building the right memory structures with consumers?
Creativity demands process. Now that creativity exists within technology, it’s time to make sure process and structure do, too. Remember, when Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel, he was coloring by number.