The Impression speaks with our industries leading fashion creative agencies on how content strategy is changing and their agencies are adjusting
BY KENNETH RICHARD
Change is the only constant, yet in this digital era with the pace of that change proving right Moore’s Law, adapting has never been more crucial. The advent of 24/7 relationship management with consumers has converted a number of fashion labels to develop a two tiered creative approach, product and media. With agencies playing a key role in helping brands navigate a course for that transition, The Impression wanted to hear from fashion’s leading creative agencies and their strategist including Doug Lloyd, Tony King, David Lipman, Patrick Yee, Stephen Niedzwiecki, Duncan Gowers, and Andrew Egan on how they are out leading that charge by asking: How is content strategy changing and how is your agency adjusting to that change?
CEO/Creative Director, King & Partners
Content strategy has changed in many ways. It used to be about ‘how do we get eyeballs to where this content lives,’ that’s now evolved to ‘how can we get content to where the eyeballs are,’ its a big shift – its less about always having all the content on your own site but instead where can we distribute the content to that’s going to result in engagement.
So your strategy needs too take into account the different audiences and their behavior on different platforms and how we do we adapt our content for those platforms. As an agency we are really reliant on data from previous content performance, as well as platform analytics so we can pair our desired audience with actual platform users.
We’re seeing a move from the slick fashion film to more accessible, sometime less polished, easier, quicker type of content. I think a lot of this is influenced by Snapchat and Instagram Stories, it also helps to keep up with the pace of today’s consumer. So more content, published more often – instead of the one season fashion film.
Our content needs are also dictated by the mediums we are choosing to tell the stories – we’re getting our brand messages across in so many ways now that we need to create content that is highly flexible and works well on YouTube pre-roll, within a banner ad, on a 10 second Instagram story, and a newspaper print ad.
A good piece of brand content shouldn’t be something that interrupts what people are interested in and instead should actually be what people are interested in, and if very successful becomes something they seek out.
There are two fundamental shifts in content strategy that are taking place which are informed by : (1) changing consumer behavior in terms of where they discover and consume content, with a big shift to digital channels including social media platforms, video-on-demand services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime video, OTT services such as Sling TV, Comcast Watchable and Verizon Go90, and internet-enabled devices (internet-of-things) whether they be in cars, appliances, voice-powered hubs like Amazon Echo or hardware like headphones/Beats (2) consumer expectations are changing: no longer are people satisfied with mass distribution models (traditional broadcast), they want content and stories that speak to them individually and are more deeply meaningful.
Long-tail content specialists are in a better position to super-serve their audiences than ever.
At Laird+Partners, we are expanding our native expertise on the emerging and dominant digital platforms where people consume content, and bringing specialists who speak those languages and are pushing the boundaries on new experiences and story-telling. Secondly, we’re developing an insights division that is distilling how consumer expectations are shifting, and using that insight to inform our creative, production and strategy work.
Founder & Creative Director, Lloyd&Co
The question behind the best way to develop and implement a strong content strategy has been an issue for quite sometime. What makes the strategy more difficult is that almost monthly an existing platform offers new tools and every few months a new platform pops-up.
We stand-by what we have been doing for a very long time – we do not treat content strategy as a one off “project”, we make sure we have a strong understanding of the brands core positioning and consumer – the nave of the wheel lets say, and build everything off of that.
Global Head of Content, Wednesday
Content strategy is ever-evolving, and of course, it’s driven by changes in communications behavior and culture, namely through the rise of smartphones and social media. When content strategy at Wednesday was first devised as a service, it was focused almost primarily on the ability to use a brand e-commerce website to communicate both brand and commercial messaging. We used content to create a context for the brand in the customer’s life, ascribing lifestyles around products and using the storytelling device to drive relatable aspiration as a means to online sales conversion.
That still exists, but it’s the manner in which content platforms have fragmented that means we have to consider not only the idea and message within a singular channel, but the pertinence of the idea and message in relation to the platform itself. What can we say around a campaign that best supports Snapchat, or Instagram, Facebook, CRM and e-commerce? How is the message connected to an omnichannel context? All these considerations are at the heart of our content strategies, and we approach the challenge by giving definition to the entire ecosystem of content that the brand holds and controls.
Once we have that, the role of the customer is central to making the idea actually work. Making campaigns engaging, shareable, immersive and instilling a sense of community where the customer has a role in the campaign itself – that’s key.
From there it’s all about tracking and measuring our success using deep dives into data to drive a content strategy further forward, either into the next campaign or wider into the entire marketing mix. Content strategy is about being everywhere you need to be, and reaching the right consumer at the right time. It’s a challenge that we’ve been enjoying, whether it’s via our work with Tiffany & Co., Michael Kors, or more recently via our Versus Versace campaign, which led as a social-driven campaign to support a deeper narrative that had cultural resonance, in this case female empowerment in connection with International Women’s Day.
In short it’s an idea, narrative, platform, customer and connectivity all working as one.
Today we create all of our brand pillars to be fluid across all platforms of communication. We see the value, no differently, from a print ad, billboard, social post, digital ad or tv commercial.
This allows us to communicate in a way that all forms of social and traditional communication work together. In effect it’s 360 marketing. Telling stories everyday. From the organic truth to the fantasy that still exists and is desired.
We are more nimble and more affordable allowing for more strategic content.
The hardest adjustment is sharing communications with clients that expect immediate ROI. This desire for immediacy puts tremendous pressure on a brand value system.
Chief Creative Officer, Yard
It’s been long overdue for fashion-orientated agencies to shift their focus into content creation. But with so many opportunities available to ‘do stuff,’ finding the right approach to content, in the right channels, and at the right time, leads to a series of increasingly difficult decisions.
We focus on creating impact over volume — leveraging our rapidly growing digital/communication strategy and integrated production teams to create at the ‘speed of culture,’ but with the insights and power to truly cut through.
To do that, we must be true to the maxim that great content ideas need to be rooted in the brand. Those foundational pieces give the brand, the client, and the creative teams the permission to create in truly unconventional and impactful ways. It ensures that we don’t just show up in digital with content and assets, but are purposeful with our tone of voice and messaging, and are investing in the most relevant – and the bravest moments – in the digital lives of a brand’s audience.
Without a clear idea of what you stand for as a brand, the ‘why’ you’re creating content becomes irrelevant. Hard work will be lost in a digital torrent. Impactful content, therefore, is more tactical, more conceptual, more creative and more culturally relevant.
Founder & Executive Creative Director, CoolGraySeven
The days of doing a shoot for a few print ads and posting a behind-the-scenes video on Facebook are long gone. Consumers today expect their favorite brands to excite, to entertain and sometimes even to educate them so the need for a robust content strategy is more important than ever before.
The most successful fashion brands approach each season with a clear idea about the story they want to tell, what assets they need to support their narrative and how it unfolds week after week, month after month.
But the biggest shift in strategy is probably towards one that favors moving image and video. Because of the immediacy of the medium and its ability to resonate on a deeper emotional level it’s become a really useful device to communicate different aspects of your brand experience.
Moreover, with social media the rules of engagement have changed and there’s endless opportunities for brands to create a season’s worth of assets from a single day of shooting. We’ve always made videos for our clients but the difference now is that we’re creating a wide range of video assets, motion posts, GIFS etc.
The other big shift is in messaging. Your consumer’s attention span today is shorter than ever before so having a messaging hierarchy that determines what message is communicated and when it appears is vital.”