Content, enriched with images, is twice as likely passed on and shared than those without photos and gets much more attention than pure text, dozens of studies confirm. The word is out now that photography is an essential part of content marketing and good design is needed to establish long-term commitment.
The more astonishing is that the creatives are often only brought to the table when everything else is already fixed. Even though we know that there is a significant difference between purchased images from stock photo agencies and custom-designed pictures for the brand image, which has to be recognizable with an individual visual language that distinguishes the brand from the competition, instead of fitting ubiquitously. The audience gets confused by piecemeal imagery and rather needs a stringent design to provide a continuous atmosphere of intimacy.
If text and picture language are not in line, you give away even more valuable potential for brand management, and making sure that a continuous visual line is in place is the job of the creative directors. Just as the graphics quite naturally define the CI, the photos must consistently fit their concept.
Of course, since all participants are specialists in their respective field, they can provide input and be a good resource to kick-start the creative process: For example, one team player provides the strategy, the next writes the story and the following one implements visual storytelling, bringing it all into perfect shape. This means, a workflow must be created to coordinate the different disciplines and integrates them at the same time into the decision making. A simple accumulation and placing of content of all shades, just to mix them at the end, is no stringent line and therefore ineffective.
A good story should easily be visually implemented when all work together, which is often more a matter of budget than possibilities. Not a chronological, but a parallel developing workflow is required, as many decision progresses en route to the final product can already be optimized by a common start-up phase.
The appreciation of colleagues and their expertise is essential: No graphic designer will edit the work of the copywriter and no copywriter specifies proportions of the design; or no photographer will meddle with controlling and no controller define mood lighting. It would be absurd to pay a specialist, just to ignore his/her expertise and experience then, right?
Most importantly, all have to know about the needs and possibilities of the other disciplines to bring them in line with their own specialty field. Open communication is essential to find the best solution at the intersections of disciplines, which means that the text must fit into the layout and the font type to the CI, or the photo production must fit into the budget and product management must define the facts of the text.
None of the disciplines by itself can constantly produce quality content for appropriate audiences. It is an art of team players who understand the skills of others and appreciate them. Some provide the content, during the creative process additional ideas are created that are coordinated and implemented by specialized players, and at the end of the day there is an exciting added value that pushes the brand to the public. A proper strategy and approach results in long-term customer relationships in today’s rapidly changing media environment - whether targeting traditional or new channels.
By Daniela La Marca