To succeed in today’s over-saturated market, brands must maximize every consumer touchpoint. Yet, many brands struggle to produce engaging content that translates across multiple platforms. The bad news? Consumers are noticing. A recent survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers by Dynata found that 52% of respondents have been deterred from purchasing a product they might otherwise have considered buying, because of a poorly designed ad. Now the good news: creative automation can help. With an automated workflow strategy, marketing and design teams can streamline the production process, saving both time and resources.
This article breaks down the benefits of creative automation, including:
- Modular, templated design systems
- How brand consistency yields customer loyalty
- Tailored assets and tone
Americans spent an average of 4 hours and 16 minutes on their phones in 2020 and that time is projected to grow by 2.5% in 2021.
By contrast, traditional TV will see a 2.4% drop in viewers by end of 2021 showcasing the shift by consumers away from traditional media such as television in favor of the always-on arena of digital marketing.
Brands that want to supercharge their growth increasingly turn to digital marketing, as evidenced by double-digit increases in the percentage of digital advertising spend out of total media ad spend every year since 2019. It’s increasingly clear that it’s no longer enough to rely on high-budget, one-time activities such as Super Bowl ads or PR stunts. What happens in between those big moments is what creates brand affiliation, loyalty, trust — and sales.
It raises an important question about what brands do to capture the attention and build on the interest of the millions of American consumers who spend as much as 6.5 hours online every single day.
“The internet is everywhere, and that can be really overwhelming for brands that want to be reachable by their customers,” said Abby McBeth, Freelance Associate Creative Director. “Being authentic across the digital landscape increasingly means forgoing expensive and experimental ad campaigns in favor of consistently showing up with your brand voice and design tonality.”
However, being authentic across the hundreds of thousands of touch points that make up the digital landscape can be intimidating for brands that want to put out their best creative on every platform at every hour of the day. Because brands can’t just be present — they must also make a clear statement and draw attention away from competitors and content sources alike.
“Brands are not just competing with other brands but with the entire internet. Brands can’t reach a huge amount of people quickly with a single outreach, because customer attention is fragmented across thousands of potential touch points. Anytime someone sees your brand, it’s a brand impression.” – Eli Chapman, Chief Marketing Officer at Celtra
Unfortunately, most companies don’t realize the investment they’re making in branding, and design isn’t carrying through to digital advertising, resulting in marketing that might accidentally hurt the brand. Often, the only touch point with a consumer is a paid digital-advertising impression. But it’s often the case that the lower down the funnel a customer goes, the less attention brands pay to creative. And every product ad served on a plain white background is a missed branding — and revenue — opportunity.
The answer? Drive brand governance in large organizations through centralizing design and scaling of digital creative to fuel growth through creative automation. When your brand can do that, it can:
- Make the most of the budget and talent you have.
- Use speed as a competitive lever.
- Achieve pixel perfection at scale.
Here’s how consumer brands use dynamic creative to achieve brand excellence across the digital landscape:
Make the most of the budget and talent you have
With the dramatic increase in online shopping and online entertainment consumption, there is more pressure on creative talent and budget to keep a brand in front of consumers than ever before. At the same time, the amount of content companies need to generate is increasing at a faster rate than their annual budgets. But volume alone isn’t enough. A 2020 Dynata survey revealed that the majority of shoppers (66%) find digital advertising to be repetitive and want to see more creative variety.
“Brands need to understand that there’s a bigger fight in the world today,” said João Paz, Head of Design at MullenLowe U.S. “Ever since the consumer got the opportunity to skip ads, we’ve been challenged to make advertising creative as interesting as the content. That’s the level of engagement you must reach if you want your creative to be relevant, and your team won’t have the time or bandwidth it needs to do so if they’re stuck manually creating a thousand versions of existing ads.”
Creative automation enables brands to produce the creative content they need without increasing budgets for time spent or additional staff members — brands essentially grow output without growing team size. A modular system based on a template subdivided into smaller component parts that can then be independently created, modified, optimized or replaced helps drive greater flexibility and relevancy without adding more work.
For example, features such as a central content repository allow teams to separate content from design. Headlines, descriptions, translations, CTAs and product images are tagged and organized in feeds, so marketers can edit on the fly without ever involving design teams or restarting the production process, no matter where teammates are based. As long as they have access to the content repository, they can make and track contributions to the creative asset.
In fact, creative automation can cut the overall creative production cycle in half.5 Tasks that used to take weeks, such as approvals, can be accomplished in a day with cloud-based tools that enable stakeholders to review from anywhere and provide real-time feedback. With automation, templates and asset management add a level of support for project managers, making it easier and faster for them to track workflows and guide production so that companies can maximize assets and minimize costs.
“Having the guts to execute powerful creative is a rare and powerful thing today. When consumers see it, they really feel it.” – Abby McBeth, Freelance Associate Creative Director
Use speed as a competitive lever
The digital landscape — and the consumers that inhabit it — moves with blinding speed today. Creatives and marketers must be just as fast in keeping up with the speed of culture and the pressures of real-world business goals and implications that can make it difficult to stay on brand. Time constraints add an additional layer of stress that can stunt overall creativity and negatively affect brand marketing. A study conducted by Regina Corso Consulting revealed that 86% of marketers6 say their creative teams need more time to devote to the creative process.
“Tone is the most scalable part of your brand in language and design choices,” McBeth said. “When it comes to dynamic creative, it’s important to be able to spend more time on the design and the strategy, and then produce the assets faster. You must be able to look at how that voice shows up in every space, from emails to social media to different devices. But you must be able to do that in a centralized way, without the layers of approval and red tape that used to slow brands down.
Instead of relying on manual methods, automating production increases a creative team’s capacity significantly by eliminating repetitive manual tasks. Features such as pre-built templates across channels and sizes allow non-designers to generate hundreds of assets on demand quickly. What used to take dozens of hours can be done in minutes, freeing up creative teams to spend more time on concepting and ideation.
Brands can also use speed to their advantage by integrating localization and creative-production workflows. Organizations can tap into new markets more easily than ever by introducing software that streamlines content creation. But having a presence isn’t enough. To capture the attention of these consumers, the creative needs to resonate. Dynata data shows that over half (56%) of consumers4 find creative assets from brands not to be relevant to their likes and interests.
Automation can help companies refine their localized content even further with transcreation, which is the adaptation of content into a new language while at the same time maintaining a consistent brand style. Transcreation allows brands to maintain creative excellence through templates with built-in intelligence, making it easy to create high volumes of well-designed assets specifically targeted to every market.
“Creative automation is truly transformative for global organizations because it helps connect teams and elevate the conversations to more strategic work.” — Eli Chapman, Chief Marketing Officer, Celtra
Achieve pixel perfection at scale
The pressure on brands to be relevant is second only to the pressure to be consistent. Consumers expect high-quality, well-designed content, and achieving pixel perfection at scale protects your brand’s carefully crafted identity and voice across every digital touch point. In fact, surveys of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers conducted by Dynata find that:
- 52% of those consumers have been deterred from purchasing a product they might have considered buying otherwise because of a poorly designed ad.
- 60% of consumers say they distrust a brand when ads or content don’t match the website, app, or in-store experience.
- 85% of shoppers are more likely to trust a brand with high-quality and welldesigned ads.
- 74% of consumers state they are more likely to be loyal to a company with consistent, high-quality branding in creative content.
Clearly, investing in high-quality creative production pays off. But to meet and exceed these expectations, creative teams must leverage automation software coupled with a flexible design system to produce highquality, pixel-perfect content across thousands of creative assets while maintaining brand consistency.
“It’s important for brands to develop a modular design system that tailors every element to encode their message,” Paz said. “This way, as elements are stripped out in order to adapt to smaller formats and different channels, the heart of the brand isn’t lost.”
Creative automation tools and well-crafted, modular design systems work together to achieve brand consistency. With pre-built templates and a robust asset library, creative teams in different departments and markets can easily follow style guidelines and apply that thinking to quickly produce new content that is onbrand, regardless of the format. And by locking in certain elements of approved design templates, localization teams can easily translate and edit without sacrificing brand integrity.
For companies that want to sustain brand growth in a highly competitive digital landscape, every single customer touch point counts. Creative teams must be empowered to work smarter and faster to deliver compelling creative assets that capture consumers’ attention with relevant content that resonates. But there’s just one problem — producing high-quality creative at the scale needed while maintaining a cohesive brand identity across all formats and channels is nearly impossible without the support of automation. Without these tools in place, you won’t fully activate your creative resources and you risk not connecting with your customers in the very spaces where they’re seeking connection.
“You don’t know what’s going on with someone when they experience your content, and you never really know when a person’s going to be paying attention,” Chapman said. “You have to be sensitive to the fleeting moments you have as a brand to make a good impression.”