The Distilled Yearly Creative Roundup: 2017 Edition

It’s been a year since our last creative roundup and I wanted to share what we’ve been working on in the last 12 months. As I started to collate the our creative pieces, it’s become clear that we’ve tried our hand, and indeed had some successes, at new and exciting formats

This has partly stemmed from Google’s changing algorithm, as we can see the benefit in investing in content for brand awareness, with branded search carrying more weight than before. This creative freedom has led us to storyboard social ad series, shoot stylized photo essays and video social experiment stunts for brands too.

We’ve made pieces with regional angles, which have led to neverending press lists (a good thing), and one that focussed on the fear factor that ended up on the news. It’s silly how the TV still feels more exciting than online, but it really does.  You can read our thoughts on the disruption online will cause to TV here.

New formats have included poster quizzes, personalised graphics and making additional press assets to go alongside pieces too. Maps, interactive visualisations, long format articles, scrolling stories and quizzes have also continued to make up the core of our work. Format is just one aspect, at the heart of everything we make, the story, the insight, and the ‘wow’ factor is key.

We also feel that sadly much of the internet can be an ugly space, and with our creativity we aim to tell compelling stories that also make the world a little bit more beautiful. Whether it is adding humour, or waving our illustration wand...

Maps

Go Compare - Great British Bakes of Instagram

For Go Compare a financial services comparison website we created a UK map comparing the popularity of British bakes in different regions. Illustrations really helped to bring this piece to life, turning what could have been a rather dull map into a mouth-watering delight. Each year the hype around ‘The Great British Bake Off’ is phenomenal, so we launched our piece during the finale. The regional differences in top bakes lengthened our press list to regional publications as well as national.

As well as seeing which British bake is most popular in your region you can also see the popularity of specific bakes across the country. e.g. trifle is most popular in Yorkshire and Norfolk, tying in with people patriotic tendencies to their place of origin.

We added in animation that works well with the twee illustration style, hovering over cakes, rotates them slightly, bunting swings in at the beginning and changing the map from one bake to another makes the map filter in one region at a time, these UX additions mean interacting with the piece is just that little bit more exciting. This was the perfect piece for Vicke, our resident birthday cake baker, to produce!

GeoTab - Most Dangerous Highways in America

For GeoTab, a fleet tracking platform, we analyzed road crash data across the US to see which highways have the highest number of fatal accidents in each state. Morbid I know, but in this case, fear led to coverage.

We launched the piece during a public holiday in America when the roads would have been at their most busy, local news outlets jumped on the chance to talk about the most dangerous highway in their region. We even got some brand mentions on the news.

The piece focuses on the most dangerous highway for fatal accidents in each state but allows you explore further comparing the amount of crashes and amount of fatalities, so you can compare which states are the most dangerous by comparison.

On page load, the highway lines across the states are drawn onto the map, and below the sorting feature, transitions in a satisfying fluid way.

This piece received over 100 linking root domains (LRDs). Off the back of its success, we have gone on to look at the most dangerous days to drive in each state too.

Maps: key takeaways

Fear/danger is a story - being worried or scared gets people talking, if there is a risk or a danger it’s news.

Visual feedback is important - a movement on hover or page load engages the user and gives the piece more of a personality.

Launch dates matter - as much as a piece should try to be evergreen to gain links over time, the newsworthy nature can often come by tying in with a conversation that is already happening.

Regional differences increase coverage - regional competitiveness or comparison means regional and national press can be contacted.

Long format content

Somfy - Totally Worth It

Somfy is a company that makes blinds which operate at the touch of the button. Their target audience is high-earning people in the 50+ age bracket who appreciate a little bit of luxury in their lives. We created blog content that highlighted products for the home that are worth splurge.

Everyday level blog content can still have its place in content marketing. Not everything needs to be a larger scale interactive or higher budget piece, because it is the idea at the core of a piece that needs to capture attention. It is important now more than ever for brands to not just focus on their product or service, but the attitude and lifestyle that surrounds it.

During page scroll the stock photography that we sourced transitions to an illustrative overlay that highlights the product within the scene and highlights its motion when in use. This creative element sets the article apart from other listicles and gives it a brand style that is unique to Somfy.

Long format: key takeaways

Create a unique visual style - set your content apart from others by adding memorable visual styling.

Be consistent - so many low-level listicles have paid no attention to whether the piece is cohesive. When using illustrations or stock imagery, ensure that the styles work as a collection.

Think about your brand voice - does the tone of the content lend itself to your brand’s personality. Content that feels too tangential can do more harm than good.

Picture Quiz

Magic Freebies - Spot the Christmas Movies

Magic Freebies is the UK’s largest freebie site, they aim to delight and surprise their customers by providing them with fun free gifts, their target audience is people who have time to browse and play online.

We created a spot the Christmas Movies poster, that existed both in print and as an online game. 25 iconic Christmas films were illustrated in one wintery scene.

We have created two picture quizzes now, working with illustrator Bill McConkey: 25 Years of Top-Flight Footy Moments and the aforementioned Spot the Christmas Movies. The trick is to create a scene that works as a whole but is made up of individual elements.

Christmas is a difficult time of year for coverage, so if you are going to take a punt on it, your idea needs to be watertight. This is certainly not something that will work all year round, yet it can gain traffic each year at a similar time.

This poster quiz earned 2.6k Facebook interactions and has been visited over 27k times.

Ginny’s - I Believe I Can Fry

Ginny’s is a brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, which gives us a lot of creative freedom when coming up with ideas. It’s an e-commerce site stocking all sorts of products for the home, and we were focusing on their fried goods gadgets. Firstly creating the 50 States of Bacon which received over 100 links, and then the humorous quiz ‘I believe I can fry’.

Taking song titles we replaced the word fry/fried/frying with something else that rhymed and drew them as image puzzles.

The majority of the time spent here was on the illustrations, the build of the quiz being quite minimal itself. I illustrated the song titles myself, ensuring each image had a similar style and colour pallet to tie the set together.

Just how ludicrous this idea is, is actually what sets it apart.

Picture quiz - key takeaways

Leverage nostalgia - both these picture quizzes hook onto nostalgia as a driving factor, old movies and classic song titles.

Make use of freelancers - Bill McConkey’s distinctive style and speed of illustration allowed us to produce these picture quizzes relatively quickly.

Interactive timeline/story

Go Compare - Food of the Famous

As part of a campaign for GoCompare we compared the daily diets of famous athletes, actors and musicians. We are inherently interested in famous people's lifestyles, often looking to emulate them in our own lives, as though living like them might somehow move us nearer to their lofty heights.

For the execution we went lo-fi, choosing to source stock imagery to make up the plates, giving them a cutout collage effect (like you see on gossip magazines) as opposed to shooting the plates from actual food. This not only created a cost effective result but also give it a bit more design edge.

Looking at a range of celebrities, who had very different relationships with food we showed what was eaten throughout the day, from 10,000 calories consumed by The Mountain to a meagre 1316 calories from Gwyneth Paltrow. The amount of food, type and frequency is shown using a day timeline.

It was covered by Business Insider, Joe, FHM and Unilad amongst others.

Advisa - Dead Men on Dollar Bills 

For Advisa, a Swedish financial services client, we analysed the people that feature on banknotes worldwide. 100% of the people who feature on US bank notes are dead male politicians. We looked at what it takes to have your face on a note. The story walkthrough compared the gender, profession, birthplace, and whether or not they are alive, for all the people on bank notes throughout the world. As well as the findings in the piece we paired the launch with a survey and some of our own note designs for both a UK and US audience.

Our survey asked 5000+ people who they wanted to see on banknotes. For the UK, Princess Diana, Florence Nightingale, Emmeline Pankhurst and JK Rowling came out on top. And for the USA, Michelle Obama was top. We made concept art for each of these people to show how they would look on banknotes. The press loved these visual assets and the survey that went alongside the piece.

The launch of the piece tied in with news about Jane Austen due to be appearing on a new £10 note design in September 2017. The piece was linked to by Yahoo, Metro, Evening Standard, Daily Star, Daily Mail, Daily Express and Insider amongst others.

Interactive timeline/story: key takeaways

Comparison is important - if the data does not show enough contrast then there is no story.

Journalists want statistics - a survey can help to gather new statistics for your content.

Personalised infographic

Go To Court - How Criminal is Your Name?

For Go To Court, an Australian law firm, we looked at first names and how they are linked to criminality. We collated the names from over 25,000 crimes to see which names are most criminal and what crimes specific names most commonly commit. Leon is the most criminal name, and Leons most frequently commit assault. It turns out Leonie’s most frequently commit abductions! So watch out.

This visualisation is essentially just a table, but making it look like a police investigation board and making the list searchable with an individual expandable graph for each name makes this interactive engaging.

Scrolling allows you to understand hierarchy better. The piece received over 100k visits and 141 LRDs.

Personalised infographic - key takeaways

Can you see yourself in the story?  -  Age, name, demographic, intelligence are all ways you can rank people. Choosing one of these as a data point allows the reader to put him or herself in the story.

How have your won over an audience?

We would love to hear what you have learnt on your content marketing journey. Sometimes looking at the failures as well as the big wins can help us learn too. Are there new formats or types of ideas that you have seen work well?

Get blog posts via email

About the author
Leonie Wharton

Leonie Wharton

Leonie is one of the longest standing members at Distilled and was here when the company was just 5 members. Her time is split evenly over client and internal work. Client work focuses on linkbait projects for our clients, working closely with the...   read more