Whether you’re a creative professional or you just work with them, chances are you’re all-too-familiar with these common "creative" requests:
“Hey, can you update this email banner with the new logo..?”
“Can you recreate this product launch promo ad for each of our regional markets? Yeah, all 12 of them.”
“You know that new brand campaign we’re going live with tomorrow? Well Mike says he needs a snappy video for social as part of the launch plan. He needs it...yesterday.”
Oh, the trials and tribulations of the modern creative marketer...you’re in hot demand, being pushed and pulled in all directions by your colleagues to keep up with the ever-increasing pile of content requests—both large and small. You’re the content creator after all; perhaps you have a small team to keep the content mill churning, but it’s all getting a bit much, isn’t it?
Now, I’m not here to pay my respects to the daily grind of today’s creative professionals—however much they deserve it. Rather, it’s to highlight a growing problem within marketing teams and in-house creative agencies that sorely needs addressing.
So here’s the thing: designers, videographers and similar creative professionals get into the game to flex their creative muscles, and produce the content to match. But in reality? They’re spending most of their time fielding the same old requests to create more-or-less-the-same marketing materials, and updating old stuff with new branding—work that is repetitive, low-value, and anything but creative.
That’s not to say this type of work isn’t necessary. Someone has to do the dirty work of updating old materials with the new logo; localizing videos for different markets; switching out the date on webinar promo ads, and various other nitty-gritty design tweaks.
The question is: why do creative professionals have a monopoly on all content creation and the admin tasks that come with it, especially when it’s work that is the antithesis of creativity?
To give some more context on the scale of this problem, London Research recently conducted a study of 700+ professionals across a variety of brands, agencies, and tech vendors, with 74% of respondents believing that they could add “significantly more value” to their business if they didn’t have to spend so much time on administrative tasks associated with content creation. The “creators” also only spent 48% of their time actually planning and producing content.
By spending more time on mundane and repetitive (albeit necessary) content-related admin work, today’s creatives are spending less time and resources on what they were hired for, and what they’re good at: driving new ideas, thinking conceptually, and adding the much-needed creative spark to their brand content and campaigns.
So what’s the solution for today’s overburdened and under pressure creatives professionals?
Repeat after me: Automation is a positive thing for workplace creativity
Think of it as "creative automation", which focuses on enabling creatives to scale content creation with the aid of technology. Now hear me out: we’re not talking about the kind of automation that is often spoken in the same breath as “tech is taking our jobs!” here. Much like most of today’s marketing technologies, creative automation tools are—to use a common marketing trope—enabling teams to work “faster, smarter, better” by addressing a growing need within today’s brand and marketing teams.
In order to meet the demands of content-hungry marketers and consumers alike, creatives need creative automation tools to drastically cut down on content-related admin tasks, so they can focus on higher-value work that is actually creative.
Okay, so what actually are creative automation tools?
Fundamentally, creative automation tools are technologies for scaling and automating certain aspects of the content lifecycle to enable high-volume content creation for high-volume demand.
That means tech shortcuts to prevent creatives having to reinvent the wheel every time they need to produce variations to the same asset (i.e. swapping out a title on an email banner; localizing a customer brochure), so they can spend more time on the important stuff, i.e. creative work that requires original, innovative ideas—something you can’t automate (at least not yet.)
As an example, let’s say you’ve got an upcoming brand campaign for a new product that is launching in six different markets. And for the initial launch phase, each regional campaign needs three social media images, two email banners, a webinar ad, and a promotional video.
They all require consistent brand elements to align with the brand’s guidelines, but at the same time, each asset needs to be customized accordingly for different channels, languages, and audiences. All added up, that’s 49 assets that need to be created and brand-approved to meet the high-quality, consistent standards expected of the brand.
This is where creative automation comes in to take the burden off creatives and automate the creation of so many variations to more-or-less-the-same assets.
How it works
So getting to the meat of it: how do creative automation tools actually address the problems of keeping up with high-volume content demands while maintaining quality? Let’s break it down depending on if you’re working with imagery or video.
Digital Brand Templates
Whether you need social media ads or email banners, Digital Brand Templates is all about enabling your whole team—not just the “creative” types—to produce high-quality, brand-consistent imagery in minutes, without needing any specialist skills.
As the name suggests, designers can produce editable, reusable “master” templates with their favorite tools (Photoshop, Sketch, etc.) to define what brand elements can and can’t be customized.
Then, content-hungry marketers can leverage these premade templates to produce imagery for Facebook, Instagram, and other digital channels (or even print materials) without having to rely on creative resources. They have the flexibility to go-to-market with content on their terms, while designers have the peace of mind that all published assets are brand-approved and consistent with their guidelines. Win-win.
Video Brand Templates
When you think of the video production process, what words spring to mind? "Slow", "tedious", and "resource-intensive" are no doubt at the forefront for many of you—particularly those more experienced in requesting video content, rather than actually creating it.
Yet it’s integral to modern marketing; video has never been more powerful and popular among today’s consumers. Video Brand Templates aim to meet the need for high-volume video output by enabling anyone to create, edit, and localize sets of videos for each market, channel, audience, and format—without requiring editing skills or extra creative resources.
Particularly useful for localization efforts, A/B testing, and omnichannel marketing, the integrated solution is all about scaling video content output efficiently as possible. One iteration; limitless variations. Online auction specialists Catawiki put it nicely...
We operate in different markets, so having the ability to easily repurpose our hero campaign assets to localized content per market, while staying on-brand has helped us to scale our video/marketing content creation and easily test what works best in different platforms.