Without question, 2020 was a challenging year. Normal routines were upended; people and businesses had to discover new ways of getting things done. Fortunately, despite those difficulties, Industry Dive had a year of unprecedented growth. As business leaders tried to keep up with their rapidly changing industries, Dive readership grew significantly. We also sold more content marketing products and services to our clients than ever before, so our graphic designers were faced with a challenge. While we are well-versed in designing our “standard” products – such as whitepapers, playbooks, webinar decks and surveys – the volume increased and the deadlines tightened. Plus, with the acquisition of NewsCred’s Content Marketing Studio and Services in July, that workload grew even larger.

studioID standard products

As our normal work routines dramatically changed, our team swiftly adapted to meet the volume of demand. We shifted to working 100% remotely, added new team members, and learned new ways to collaborate. We pushed forward with resiliency – by adding additional freelancers to our team, spending hours critiquing projects over video meetings and Slack, and learning techniques from our new coworkers. Despite the challenges, we can proudly say that our team continued its commitment to excellent design and created a record number of standard products. Here are some of our favorites from this year.

Playbook

Pages and sections from the Doddle playbook.

Client: Doddle

Project: “Stop Overlooking the E-commerce Customer Returns Opportunity”

Product type: Standard

Designer: Yujin Kim

Goal: Playbooks serve as marketing pieces that highlight a client’s product or service. They follow the brand guidelines provided by the client, including elements like color scheme, typefaces, and brand personality.

Process: For this piece, Yujin showcased the consumer experience by thoughtfully selecting stock photos with naturally posed, authentic-looking people. She even went the extra mile to Photoshop the models’ clothes to match Doddle’s brand colors. Its bright colors, playful images and engaging data visualizations make it our strongest playbook of the year.

I loved the openness to diversity from the client and our project managers when it came to image selections. 90% of my inspiration came from Doddle’s brand imagery goal of conveying the unique characteristics of young people.
– Yujin Kim, Graphic Designer

Case study

Pages and sections from the BigCommerce case study.

Client: BigCommerce

Project: “Navigating COVID-19: 3 Retailers Respond and Thrive in the New Era of Ecommerce”

Product type: Standard

Designer: Brian Tucker

Goal: Case studies are brief narratives from users/customers’ experience with a product or service. The design incorporates first-person user accounts and data analysis to succinctly demonstrate proven results.

Process: Brian used a vertical layout and emphasized stats to give this piece an authoritative, scholarly look. He used bold typography to call out data points, icons to highlight stats, and created a custom map to illustrate user locations. The design successfully translated three customer narratives into a compelling marketing piece.

BigCommerce has a strong and established brand, which made this a fun and rewarding case study to work on. The challenge was creating a consistent structure that still allowed for variety in data visualizations. No one wants to look at the same pie chart on every page!
– Brian Tucker, Senior Graphic Designer

Whitepaper

Pages and sections from the BigPanda whitepaper.

Client: BigPanda

Project: “IT Crisis Management: How AIOps Cuts Costly Downtime and Supports Teams”

Product type: Standard

Designer: Danielle Ternes

Goal: This whitepaper is a highly informative client narrative. The design takes text-heavy content and breaks it down into easily digestible takeaways for the reader.

Process: To begin, Danielle flowed the text in a two-column format for a brief, easy reading experience. Next, she created a geometric motif of blue overlays on crisp, black and white photos inspired by the client’s brand. She further broke up the text with pull quotes that highlighted user testimonials and key concepts. As a result, the striking aesthetic and engaging layout guide the reader through the information with ease.

The challenging part was creating visual breaks for the reader with imagery and callouts without making the document too long and unwieldy. Using BigPanda's hexagon motif helped to give the imagery strength without it taking up too much space.
– Danielle Ternes, Graphic Designer

These are just a few of the incredible pieces our graphic designers created this year. As 2020 wrapped, our designers completed a record-breaking 400+ standard products. With an unprecedented workload, our team’s ability to make each one distinctive and unique is no small feat. But wait – there’s more! Beyond those standard products, we expanded our client offerings to include custom products as well.

studioID custom products

Amidst a pandemic, joining a new company by way of an acquisition might seem unexpected and unsettling. But, in reality, the opportunity opened up many doors for our team and introduced us to more design-minded colleagues.

This year in content marketing design, we learned more than we could imagine from the comfort of our own homes. We identified ways to design content that promotes social distancing and staying safe while remaining evergreen. Some ideas include an infographic about creating an at-home spa; animated GIFs demonstrating at-home workouts; social graphics showing the best way to run with your dog. We shifted our planned in-person video productions to a more animated style. Lastly, we had to rethink in-person event collateral; we created more ebooks, explainer videos and microsites to deliver information to our clients’ audience.

Below is a look at some of our favorite custom products from 2020:

Animated video

Client: Canon

Project: IVY CLIQ+ Instant Printer + Camera Promotional Video

Product type: Custom

Designer: Chelsea Ennis

Goal: At the end of January, we began planning an elaborate 3-day shoot at the Color Factory in downtown Manhattan. Our April plans quickly took a turn once the pandemic hit NYC; we were forced to pivot.

Process: Using simple product photography and a strong understanding of the Canon CLIQ+ audience, we produced short videos highlighting this compact product’s key features. We began with scripting, then created storyboards, high-fidelity frames, compiled the voiceover, music and 3D animations.

The main priority of this video was to create the same impact we originally planned for the in-person shoot. We selected a 3D style to mimic our original concept as closely as possible. Our team was able to achieve the original goal of creating colorful, bold videos through 3D rendering and animation.
– Chelsea Ennis, Creative Director

Ebook

Pages and sections from the Square ebook.

Client: Square

Project: “Humanizing the Holidays”

Product type: Custom

Designer: Anne Callahan

Goal: Ebooks and whitepapers can easily cause reader fatigue when they lack strong visual elements. We avoid this issue by including compelling images and geometric motifs to keep the audience engaged. This project for Square stands out for its seamless way of merging organic shapes with photography.

Process: To kick off, Anne created wireframes to convey the information hierarchy and structure. Next, she partnered with an illustrator to create custom graphics to portray shopper personas. She combined the full-color layout with custom illustrations to complete this dynamic 24-page ebook.

For this Holiday ebook, we were given specific brand guidelines from Square's holiday microsite to inform the design. The guidelines included a unique color palette and flat vector shapes. We used and custom illustrations to guide the story in this clean and dynamic ebook.
– Anne Callahan, Graphic Designer

Animated infographic

Pages and sections from the Generali infographic

Client: Generali

Project: “Air Purifying Plants”

Product type: Custom

Designer: Niege Borges

Goal: 2020 has turned many people into plant parents. We created this animated infographic to educate Generali’s audience on the many different benefits of these air-purifying plants. This infographic subtly promotes the theme of staying home while remaining evergreen for future use.

Process: For this infographic, Niege began with identifying the layout which alternates the illustrations and text. She created 10 custom plants illustrations, making sure that they are unique and cohesive. To create visual unity, she incorporated subtle line graphics to connect each of the 10 sections. Once the design was approved, she partnered with an animator to mimic organic movement that encourages the reader to keep reading.

As always, our goal is to make infographics that are attractive and easy to read. For this project, I illustrated the plants and other home decor to help to tell the story. I used lines to represent the air, create movement, and to guide the reader through the infographic, which worked really well when animated.
– Niege Borges, Graphic Designer

2020 brought us exciting opportunities to get creative with infographics, ebooks, social assets, illustrations and interactive content. In 2021, we look forward to continuing to elevate our content by creating impactful interactive experiences to tell our clients’ stories.