Story-boarding – Comic Book Thinking

I recently worked with an old friend from my network, who came to me with a fresh challenge with quite a broad scope of direction which can always be a bit tricky in my experience, as you can fall into the old trap of working really really hard in multiple directions trying to narrow down the scope of your clients vision and work in the direction that they actually want to go in. A tricky and delicate process one which I find is helped by a process I use called ‘story-boarding’, which I know is traditionally used by the AV world, but I’ve stolen it!! and would recommend using it as a tool in lots of situations to aid visual thinking and planning.

Ok so a feel some back story situational substance is necessary…

The project in question, which I can now tell of, as it has now been finished and launched, is eCentric Marketing a new integrated digital agency working within the UK. As this is a new agency they ask me to help initially point them in the right direction with their brand itself but with a view of looking more specifically at their digital & social brand afterwards. This is a great stage to be involved with any brand, at the very beginning or at the beginning of the change process.

I went through an initial briefing process with both the founders looking at this project from an outside-in viewpoint with an aim to flipping this in my creative approach, this briefing process was kept quite casual, light and fun and helped me get the most out of the time we had and gave me scope on the vision of the founders, their personalities and the personality that they saw their brand taking on. At this point Ideas were swimming around and it is really important to maintain a focus from the brief to help I began the process of ‘storyboarding’.

Storyboarding - Comic Book Thinking - Fusion FX

Getting started

Ok so I find this process easier with a paper and pen (being creative doodler), however, you could you any number of formats to plan out the process.

The brief will need to be reviewed to start mapping out the story, the same approach to writing any story is to break up the story into key message sections that should form into a beginning, middle and end (hopefully a Peak-Ending).

If you are working by product/service/proposition this can make part of the process easy as these form the middle of your story being the area you want to lead users into focussing on. Here’s the fun part box mark out 10-12 boxes (in whichever format you have chosen) to begin placing your content. Please note that if you have more/less items to talk about you can scale your requirements, however, you must note that in the current climate your customers attention span deteriorates rapidly passed 8 key messages roughly 8-10 seconds.

In the beginning…

Similar to most stories where you read the synopsis or the first few pages which are designed to draw you in (or not). Introduction is always best laying the foundations for the really meaty promotional items, aim to use between 1 and 4 boxes to really get across who you are, what you stand for, what your values are, your motto is, remember to keep things short, sharp, punchy and engaging.

Give them the right, then the left!

The main bulk of your storyboards should be used to help promote your main content you want to show off. At this point you can go in a number of directions in terms of idea style (professional, neutral, fun, quirky and the list goes on), it is best to chose a style and try to stick along similar lines for consistency.

Ending on a high

It’s important to a goal insight when telling a story, a meaning that want people wanting to know more. You should really consider what this call to action would be; you may decide to have multiple calls to action for different sections. Make sure that you plan this all before you get to the end and realise that your story goes nowhere. To ensure a seamless user experience, try and use the modelling technique to help.

Modelling

Some people think one direction is enough, but I think you need to play with your story to make sure it fits just right, in which case one direction really isn’t ideal (something like try to get Shrek to fit in to a set of Manolo Blahnik’s). Its is a good idea to come up with a few ideas for each of your storyboards, then start modelling different ways off putting them together, I find that you cant beat Postit notes for this exercise. Simply get your separate ideas down on post its and start creating a story line moving different section ideas around to see which ones fit best.

Imagine your creating your own comic where each frame has its own story to tell.

Keys points to note:

  • 8 seconds to captivate your customers
  • Plan for a beginning, middle and end of your story
  • No idea is a bad idea
  • Linking is essential for consistency and flow
  • Choose your style and try to be consistent
  • Plan your calls to action, to ensure a seam experience
  • 2-3 concepts per
  • Modelling different styles with different messages really helps

Ben@Fusion

Going Social – Gaz Coombes Presents…

With the remnants of Friday nights amazing gig at Bush Hall, Shepherds Bush, London still buzzing around in my head I thought it would be quite the right time to put pen to paper and pull together a recommendation from this experience.

Firstly my recommendation does partially come from previous experience having grown up with Supergrass, with classic lines such as “We are young, we are free we’ve got teeth there so clean”. However, my exposure to Mr Coombes’ new adventure was purely by coincidence. Surfing through new pages on Facebook I happened across a newly launched site for Here Come the Bombs, recommended from a friends ‘Like’ .

Gaz Coombe Presents Here Come The Bombs

My journey started by initially checking out the Facebook page which was consistently branded with the group’s logo and initial album artwork concepts, with links to initial videos hosted on a branded YouTube channel (essential for the music industry with the availability of streaming to portable devices). If you haven’t seen these already I love the typographical simplistic approach to these videos, check out Hot Fruit (their initial single) and Subdivider.

Giving it no thought I carried on my usual business occasionally checking my home feed and getting initial drip-feed posts for the current content available, so no major movement. At this point I should say a Twitter feed was used in parallel to Facebook to help maximise coverage and add live stream updates into the process.

Around April the band really started engaging with users offering sneak peak samples and obviously started to hit the road, dates were being released first through social media to those already following which wasn’t that many at this point. Being curious I booked a ticket and sat back to watch the social content online grow and grow which in turn bought more followers and more engagement. Looking back its clear to see that nearly every post had likes and comments, my particular favourite being the letter of complaint (was it a windup?!).

Every gig had a pre-gig talk with the group with updates and feed responses on Facebook and Twitter, which I have to admit, was fantastic the night I went as I was able to check in on the band’s progress as I was running late due to traffic. Post gig had live pictures from fans and from PR live online by the next day, allowing pins on Pinterest to help channel traffic through to the central Facebook Page. The group were already gigging before the album was released a popular move with new launch groups, to bang the drum and get support, however, social media was really helping to retain and develop this support.

Leveraging the use of good press is still an important factor also to utilise a digital presence that has very good standing in search is also a very good idea. Gaz and the Bombs were able to get a live slot with the Guardian to help support the launch, this went viral very quickly (as it was an amazing live performance, which always helps). This was followed up with an exclusive live album stream on the Guardian using Soundcloud a great way to get listeners, likes and live feedback on the feed.

Recent developments have been the individualisation (branding) of the different social platform, however, still sitting under an overall brand theme. Facebook has used different banners to advertise unique posts, most recently offering fans the chance to sign-up and be in the next music video, such a great offer that got immediate impact.

All the while this social media content torrent was occurring, behind the scenes targeted social media advertising across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was being maximised. The support of gazcoombes.com (the leads official website) helped support this launch campaign, however, the focus and energy has been invested in social media.

Again this has shown the gravity of using free social media facilities in an integrated approach alongside traditional channels to help successfully launch a product. Here are some of the key elements to highlight from this campaign:

  • Teaser Launch
  • Consistent digital branded platform, individualised as the campaign progressed
  • Well established focus site (gazcoombes.com) to support all campaign areas
  • Focus on developing engagement with fans
  • Regular and popular content posts, live feeds pre and post gig, post-gig content available within 24 hours making feed very up-to-date
  • Good engagement between group and end user
  • Targeted social media advertising used to support content development approach
  • Important offerings (sign-up and be in the next music video/exclusive album stream on guardian)  to get fans engaged and behind the group
  • Digital PR chosen with well known and digitally popular sites (Guardian)

So business cap now off, my experience from by chance, to now avid fan of this launch album and group I can relay my personal recommendations. Having listened to the live stream, purchased a digital copy via iTunes and now purchased on vinyl (at the gig) I can safely say that I haven’t stopped listening to the album with its balance of rocking riffs, elegant vocals and amazing lyrics combined to make a truly amazing listen which demonstrates continued creative development from the former Supergrass front man.

Ben@Fusion

Going Social – Prometheus Launch Campaign Review

If you haven’t already heard or seen the adverts, maybe on the big screen or more recently on the box at home, I have been following the launch campaign of the new film due out on the 1st June 2012.

Prometheus signals the return of a legend to the Sci-Fi genre, something he has not done since the Alien (1979) and Bladerunner (1980), obviously I’m talking about none other than Ridley Scott.

Although the release date in now very close, the traditional channels or marketing a film have not been massively pushed by this films launch team. With the majority of advertisements only just hitting the mainstream channels (TV, Magazines, Cinema) now.

Having had this film on my radar since I first heard about the chance of a follow-up to the Alien series, my main focus has been on the social media focus that this film has used to initially launch and drip feed teaser content.

Prometheus by Ridley Scott - June 2012

The main focus of this campaign has been centred around a Facebook page, which is beneficial with the new timeline functionality as key elements and posts can be mile stoned and given prominence. The majority of content in the last quarter of 2011 was sparse and designed to start users thinking, discussing and engaging. By simply getting users to ‘Like’ the page, this allowed the social media feed to keep fans in touch with all movements. This subtle start began building likes, which would reach 100,000+ before the real campaign ramp up began which are now sitting at well over 200,000. Now just imagine that each one of those 200,000 has 10 people that they might pass on a Prometheus recommendation to outside of social media, you don’t need to be clever to do the math on the impact.

Quarter one of 2012 saw an increase in social media activity as the word began to go viral about the initial teaser videos and feed content which were popular and spread quickly. To add further depth to the campaign an official twitter feed (@PrometheusMovie) was linked to the Facebook page giving reach to Twitterites and enabling targeted hash tag trends. This channel was not as popular with the official feed receiving only 14,000+ follows which is still impressive but dwarfed by the Facebook influence (This is likely to be due to the visual support, which is instantly accessible in Facebook but gets lost in 140 characters), however, have a search check out the non-official feeds all of which head in the same direction, sometimes copy cats can pay off..

Tying the social elements together required creating a campaign landing platform to channel traffic that can be analytically tracked which requires investment in time and energy but is definitely worth it. This platform was well design and linked directly into Facebook via a Facebook application that was built to feed people into the microsite (www.weylandindustries.com), signups to the site would gain extra access to inaccessible areas, however, free content was still available to the casual surfer. Content on the site gives behind the scenes information on this corporation, which is central throughout the Alien series and this film.

In the last two months leading up to eminent launch date; engagement has increased massively between fans and the people behind the film with more and more content from behind the scenes being opened up for review and debate. Fan art has been pouring in from the community who have been engaged by the campaign and its constant activity from the films launch team. If you haven’t already seen the TED Talks video of Peter Weyland (played by Guy Pearce) talking at a future style TED Talks event, check it out. This video was supported by the TED website and social media channels, a well respected business community, further supporting the campaign authenticity and reach. More recent developments have included live feed discussions with Prometheus writer Damon Lindelof on the Prometheus twitter feed as well as the new Project Prometheus section of the microsite which is signed up and connected to the users social media channels. Project Prometheus is a training application simulation, an amazing piece of interactive, engaging social gaming which will help sustain the buzz well after the films initial launch.

In my opinion this campaign has been successful in creating a real buzz around the film, which im sure helped lead to its initial launch date of April being pushed back to a prime time summer slot alongside the Dark Knight Rises both of which are now tipped as the hot films for the year.

This campaign has demonstrated a visible shift in the effective use of social media for mainstream product launches, in Prometheus’s case, a well orchestrated and implemented social media product launch.

Key points to note:

  • Social campaign launched around Facebook using new timeline to emphasise key content
  • YouTube and Facebook video linked for initial teaser videos
  • Twitter feed introduced to reach additional users and target trends
  • Microsite launched (www.weylandindustries.com)
  • Facebook app linking signups directly into exclusive content
  • Content and engagement ramp up 2 months before launch
  • Posting of user generated content onto Facebook page and Twitter feed
  • Live Twitter sessions with Prometheus writer Damon Lindelof
  • Addition of Project Prometheus to microsite a purpose built social gaming experience designed for the film
  • Traditional marketing channels utilised just before launched

Ben@Fusion