Could templates be the solution to your creative challenges?
By Jasmin Pakbeen
You might think that the words ‘template’ and ‘creative’ don’t belong in the same sentence.
If you’re a marketer, your gut instinct may be that any sort of template will stifle creativity. How can you marry originality with something created from a mould? Surely the very idea of a template approach will limit your inventiveness? But maybe we should change our thinking. Here, we make the argument for templates – and the reasons they can have a place in producing creative, engaging marketing materials.
Overcoming a fear of conformity
By its very nature, creative collateral – adverts, brochures, proposals, flyers, presentations – is just that: ‘creative’. The need to produce something engaging is often conflated with the desire to produce something novel.
But do we always have to reinvent the wheel in order to deliver engaging marketing materials?
Or are we actually wasting our time by always striving to create something new, when in fact an approach based on tried-and-tested design might be just as good, if not better?
The challenge of producing a wide range of materials
Today, content is the watchword for marketers in all sectors. Content marketing is recognised as an effective, engaging strategy for building relationships with prospective and existing buyers.
And in a digitally-focused marketing world, the ability to see at a glance the impact your content is having makes this an approach beloved of marketing teams and budget-holders alike. A 2019 blog by marketing agency Brafton reports that ‘marketers rank content marketing as the top activity that will have the biggest impact on their business in the near future’.
However, while it may be effective, content marketing also makes demands of marketers – it requires a wide range and large volume of materials to be effective. A report by FT company Longitude cites ‘producing high-quality content’ and ‘generating content consistently’ as the two biggest challenges facing firms attempting content marketing.
On-brand blogs, infographics, videos, online ads, social media posts – alongside more traditional collateral like brochures, flyers, placemats, emails, proposals and sales documents – the list of content you need to produce can seem endless.
How can you lessen your workload? Sometimes, the answer is to devolve content production beyond the marketing team – but this can create its own issues.
How often have you seen off-brand materials produced because the person responsible wasn’t aware of the brand guidelines, didn’t know how to deliver them, or just wanted something produced quickly without any regard for brand standards?
Often, a similar on-brand document already exists and could simply be adapted to their needs – but poor digital asset management means they don’t know where to find it. And even if they did, would they know how to get it updated? If not, the answer too frequently is for people to ‘go off-piste’, wasting time and money by creating a document from scratch.
Publishing engaging content means writing the best copy, creating winning designs and of course, if your industry is governed by a regulator like the FCA, ensuring your materials are compliant with regulatory standards. Unless you are truly able to trust your business to deliver on all of this, producing regular, on-brand marketing content inevitably means a bigger workload for the marketing team.
Why templates might be the answer
Against this background, a template approach looks increasingly appealing. Why?
- Templates improve consistency – strengthening your brand and minimising the chances of non-brand compliant materials being published.
- They enable everyone in your firm – even those with limited design skills – to create professional marketing collateral, quickly and easily. By mandating on-brand fonts, layouts, logos, imagery and colour palettes, a template solution ensures a professional, brand-compliant result.
- As a result, you reduce spend on external design agencies…
- …as well as avoiding your own teams ‘going rogue’ and creating off-brand, home-made materials.
- Regulatory, as well as brand, compliance is improved; pre-approved content including disclaimers and regulatory statements can be ‘locked down’, ensuring only the right versions are used.
- Pre-designed charts and graphs can allow you to create branded visuals swiftly – saving you time and ensuring an engaging result.
- Templates allow marketing and sales teams to focus on their core skills. A straightforward design process frees you up to focus on getting to know your audience and writing content that will appeal to them.
- By producing compliant documents first time – both in terms of content and branding – you smooth the approvals process by minimising rework and reviewing.
- As a result, you can publish a greater volume of professional content consistently and quickly.
Creativity and templates – not mutually exclusive
There are, then, many reasons why templates can support marketing creativity, rather than stifling it.
They allow you to focus on content, knowing your design is in safe hands. They help you to get materials to market quickly, meeting deadlines on pitches and proposals, and feeding the demand for content. And they improve the professionalism and compliance of your output.
Find out more here about how a smart template solution could be the answer to your marketing collateral production challenges.
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