‘Chronicles of a Head of Digital’ – 31

Time to pontificate about the importance of the big picture once again, wrapped around some personal anecdotes.

It’s a bit of a continuation of previous posts about focusing on the right bits, and planning and stuff like that, but let’s broaden it a tad. Looking at the need to respect the entire picture, the landscape, the constituent elements, the context and getting the right bits in place at the right time for the answer.


The important thing to note is that, in this digital game, what you see at the end of the day is the result of many elements, many parts in their correct turn make the whole. So, to quote Andrea Palladio – an architect of the olden days I have mentioned before:

“Beauty will result from the form and the correspondence of the whole, with respect to the several parts, of the parts with regard to each other, and of these again to the whole; that the structure may appear an entire and complete body, wherein each member agrees with the other, and all necessary to compose what you intend to form.”

So, to try to explain that in my own garbled fashion using the some scenarios of the past week.

A site rebuild. It’s a reimagining of a site for a customer.

The site they have is (at face value) OK, it looks fine, no broken links or any of that, and it just does not do its job. Simple as.

Everything is sort of there, but it is disjointed, so the result is nothing is there. This is a case in point to not appreciating the whole to compose the form you intend. My job has been, and was sold in as such, to pull it apart, reuse as much as we can to save on design and copy etc., and spend our valuable time just structuring every element better so that every part builds the whole, and in doing so the whole does the job it is intended to do, which in this case is lead generation.

The way it has been built is disjointed: it’s a print article online. The way it has been thought about and structured is disjointed. Like I say, everything is there, but it’s been made to look pretty first base, as a PDF no doubt, and then made like for like into a website. I have been pulling it apart, categorising every asset, every element, building the story, the goals, the scoring points and then scripting the right journey through to create the right message to thus elicit the reaction to generate interest and ultimately ROI. To do this, we work on the strategy first, not the visuals. It is another example of design by science. And user-centric, too. First time round, the whole was not appreciated. Use an expert to do it properly, it pays dividends. No major rewrites, no redoing of brand and visual design elements – it’s reusing what they have.

A digital strategy. Hearts and minds have been well intentioned. But it’s come in as there is no depth, no substance, no actual granular understanding of everything that is at play. Everyone these days is an expert. But are they? Again. To use another quote from old, and (without apology) from my architect’s past again…

“Architects should be educated, skilful with the pencil, instructed in geometry, know much history, have followed the philosophers with attention, understand music, have some knowledge of medicine, know the opinions of the jurists, and be acquainted with astronomy and the theory of the heavens” – Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (off the proper olden days).

The point being, again, is: to understand a medium, a greater depth than is appreciated is required, every element makes the whole. Every step makes the journey. A whitewash of noise does not build an answer.

Which is why I have now been approached, not to blow my own trumpet (if only I could bend that far…) but having had too many years in this game across pretty much every channel and aspect, the background is there – the sum is an answer of its parts. The intention is to promote, sell space, let the populous know of this great thing, that best kept secret. To sell stuff. This focus is on my space, not the site off the olden days, but digital channels.

It’s enough to plan and run an integrated online, offline, outbound nurture email push tied to DM and landing pages, but roll into the mix a multi-channelled extension across media, social and landing pages with tracking and scoring mechanics, and you are playing with all sorts. Many plates are now spinning, and if one drops… Changes in voice on a central message, timings, channel behaviour traits, channel UI nuances, technical restrictions, physical timings… lordy!

Yeah, we are all an expert, we all have a Facebook page and get 50 likes for a post, we can all Google a question and copy and paste some answers and buzzwords into your scope or presentation, but you get a façade. You get nothing. Longevity will show cracks. Let’s step back and learn to appreciate the elements that form the whole. And to fully appreciate every layer you need to understand every layer, and the how and why. #Education. So plans are being scribbled to then construct a brief. And we all know the importance of a strong brief to get the best out of every part. So this time our client gets it right first time, off us.

To then layer in three randoms, ‘cape scooter lady’, ‘active wear’ and some ‘men’s men’ drinking cava – these three things happened on three different days, all around the same place at different times.

Pub culture basically.

Call it people watching, call it snooping, call it what you will, but these three randoms all make up the joy of this particular pub. It’s no gastro-theme place, it’s not spit and sawdust countryside place, it’s a general town pub, surrounded by offices and houses. A local’s pub. And the randomness of the people makes the place. Some are there all the time, some in and out, some are one-offs, but it’s the complexity and colour of those threads that make up the fabric of this pub. Without the people, the pub is empty. The people on their own are not the culture of the building. An environment is made up of all its parts, both ways. And to take time out, sit somewhere and watch life unwrap around you and you will appreciate it’s these layers that make the environment work.

The same can be said of offices. The variety of characters, personalities, skills and voices all make up the company, not the décor. Let’s not move to Stepford anytime soon.

Anyhow, I have rambled enough. Hope some of that makes sense and that you enjoyed reading.

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