Why your design agency needs a ghostwriter

Full of strong opinions, but short on time to articulate them?

At its best, design is a thoughtful, considered profession as much driven by bold ideas as aesthetics. And as a cursory dip into ‘design Twitter’ will attest, there’s no shortage of opinions in this business.

But be honest. How often do those opinions become part of a joined-up, effective content strategy for your agency to win new clients?

Read more: Why your design agency needs a content strategy

Whether selling a bold solution to a wary client or crafting a brand strategy to win over sceptical consumers, designers are in the persuasion game. But current client demands come first. Getting thoughts down on paper in a coherent way takes time to do properly. And you need to do it properly.

It’s no use forcing out opinions for the sake of it. If it’s not your authentic standpoint, what’s the point? You need to find an engaging, relevant angle that sheds light on how you work, how you think, what makes you unique.

If all this sounds familiar, but you struggle to prioritise getting it done, I can help you articulate a client-winning thought-leadership strategy – including persuasive content that’s ghostwritten in your agency’s voice.

My editorial background helps me get to the heart of your story quickly, and craft a convincing narrative pitched at your target reader. And whether it’s a one-off piece on a particular theme, or a big-picture content strategy that runs for months, it begins with an in-depth, face-to-face chat.

This is a great opportunity not only to gauge what your opinions and attitudes are, but how you express them – from general style and mood to particular turns of phrase. Tone of voice is a crucial part of any branding toolkit for your clients, so why neglect your own?

Once we agree on an angle, tone and format, I’ll collaborate closely with you to get the content spot-on.

So what does this look like in practice?

I worked with Red Setter on a provocative thought-leadership article about ‘brand euthanasia’ for their client B&B Studio, to fuel its reputation for empowering disruptive, forward-thinking challenger brands.

Marmite: B&B’s example of a heritage brand that has stayed relevant. Image credit: City AM

In the firing line: lazy, slow-moving brands that have lost their relevance, but are kept on life-support by empty ‘brand refreshes’ and nostalgia.

Fuelled by expert insights and contentious opinions from B&B’s senior team – including bylined strategy director Lisa Desforges – the short, punchy ghostwritten article was placed by Red Setter in City AM’s opinion section.

Case study: B&B Studio on brand euthanasia

I also helped Studio Output produce a long-form piece to reflect its new strategic positioning: the agency helps brands to adapt and thrive in a connected world.

Following an in-depth briefing session with the senior team, I worked closely with ECD Rob Coke to express the agency’s sector-leading creative approach in written form – using three case studies to show it in action.

Case study: Studio Output’s strategic repositioning

Looking forward to 2020, I’m collaborating with three very different UK agencies on their longer-term strategic content plans, which will start rolling out in the coming months. More on that in due course.

Need help turning your in-house expertise into client-winning thought leadership?

Telling the story of Carlsberg’s global rebrand

Carlsberg’s re-crafted logo. Image credit: Taxi Studio
  • Client: Taxi Studio / Carlsberg
  • Disciplines: Content strategy, scriptwriting, video production, copywriting
  • Duration: 12 days

I collaborated with Taxi Studio, developing a content strategy to tell the fascinating story behind its award-winning Carlsberg rebrand.

Following an in-depth briefing, we agreed to focus on three core areas – the re-crafting of the mark and other brand assets; the holistic design and packaging system; and Carlsberg’s wider sustainability story, in which the rebrand plays a central role.

Working closely with Taxi’s in-house marketing and creative teams, I conducted piece-to-camera interviews in both Taxi’s Bristol studio and Carlsberg’s Copenhagen HQ, then scripted and edit-produced videos that have since formed part of many successful awards submissions.

The videos were accompanied by ghostwritten articles to tell the story in more detail. These became core case studies on the Taxi website, as well as attracting the attention of specialist publications such as The Dieline.

Part one: Crafted to Last

How the rebrand translates across packaging and POS. Image credit: Taxi Studio

We’ve collaborated with Carlsberg on a major global rebrand, unifying its diverse markets with a simple yet versatile identity system that champions the principles of great Danish design.

Following extensive research into the brand’s 171-year heritage, Carlsberg’s famous brand elements have been carefully re-crafted for the first time in several years, striking the perfect balance between form and function...

Read more and watch video on Taxi’s website…

Part two: Danish by Design

Different variants in the holistic packaging system. Image credit: Taxi Studio

At the heart of our global Carlsberg rebrand is a simple phrase: “In constant pursuit of better.” Drawn from the ‘Golden Words’ penned by Carlsberg founder JC Jacobsen, this pledge drives everything from the quality of the brew, to the company’s sustainability credentials, to how its brand is presented to the world.

With no holistic look and feel to tie the regional variants together, or clear set of rules to govern how different assets were used, the Carlsberg brand was presented inconsistently from market to market. Another challenge was to unify all expressions of it as part of a coherent, master brand-led system...

Read more and watch video on Taxi’s website…

“Nick is an excellent writer with a particular set of skills, skills he has acquired over a very long career, skills that make him a dream for people like you. Try him once and you’ll be taken. Just like I was when we worked together on the Carlsberg brand – he’s a trusted ‘go to’ for us.”

Spencer Buck, creative partner, Taxi Studio

Arguing a strong case for ‘brand euthanasia’

Image credit: City AM
  • Client: Red Setter / B&B Studio
  • Disciplines: Thought leadership, ghostwriting
  • Duration: 1 day

I collaborated with Red Setter and their client B&B Studio on a provocative thought-leadership article about ‘brand euthanasia’. In the firing line: lazy, slow-moving brands that have lost their relevance, but are kept on life-support by empty ‘brand refreshes’ and nostalgia.

The article argued that old-fashioned brands that no longer cater to a real need or desire should make room for the next generation of challengers – and moreover, that no one will miss them when they’re gone.

Alongside high-street failures Woolworths and Blockbuster – too sluggish to adapt in the age of Amazon and Netflix – this included the counter-example of a heritage brand that has managed to stay relevant: Marmite.

Fuelled by expert insights and contentious opinions from B&B’s senior team – including bylined strategy director Lisa Desforges – the ghostwritten article was placed by Red Setter in the City AM opinion section.

Read the story on City AM