Creating a content hub that converts – Rare Design case study

Rare Design is a design-led innovation agency based in central London. Their team is small  – three members – but it’s a group of talented and experienced creatives working with huge FMCG clients across the world. When we first connected with them, they had a clear mission in mind: to build awareness of how to use design as a brand building tool and creative innovation, rather than just at the packaging design stage.

We caught up with their Managing Director, James Hirst, to explain exactly how Future Content helped to codify their offering, how they’ve cemented relationships through their blog activity, and how the content has helped turn pitches into business.

Project Details

Client Rare Design Date Started Dec 15 Status ongoing Skills Content strategy, Editorial planning, Blog Writing, Interviews See Blog Rare Design blog

The problem

Rare had to differentiate themselves from the multitude of agencies focusing on ‘innovation’. They felt innovation was such an overused and vague term that they couldn’t possibly stand out in that market. They needed a focused message and a body of content which could help them direct the conversation with their clients towards their way of thinking, i.e. putting design at the heart of the brand building agenda.

“The reason I came into the business was to shape our position within the market”, James says. “We had to define what our position was, and how we then evolve, and how we then talk to our clients about it.

“For example, we’d won some really great projects at Heinz, but we were predominantly known as a packaging design firm. On the flip side, with Kellogg we had the opposite: we got all that front-end concept development, but not the packaging work. We wanted to be a brand design consultancy first and foremost, but away from pitching, we had no way of delivering this message to potential and existing clients.”

The hook

Innovation is rooted in creative ideas, but Rare saw a real issue with many creative ideation sessions which involved a lot of ideas, but no real thought. A room full of post-it notes but no cohesion was commonplace for many brands. Rare coined this as sugar-spike ideation: the innovation equivalent of a toddler after too many sweets. What they proposed in its place was Organic Ideation, a hook which gained some traction in meetings but wasn’t fleshed out into something more tangible.

We all felt that there was more to this idea, and we used the content as a way to develop it into a clear process and principle.

“Organic Ideation was a seed of an idea”, James tells us. “What was great about working with Future Content was that they picked up on the idea and ran with it. They pushed, probed, and prodded during our editorial meetings, helping formulate a methodology which clearly sets us apart from the competition.

“As a result, we have launched an eBook which details clearly the process, the method, and the benefits of Organic Ideation to our potential clients.”

This push has carved them a niche in a space and positioned them as thoughtful creators who not only talk the talk, but write about it passionately too.

Using the content for impact

Aside from developing a new, effective sales tool, Rare has used the other thought-leadership focused content we’ve produced to directly and effectively win new business and differentiate themselves from their competition.

“The way we use the content is threefold”, James tells us. “First, we publish on the blog to try and build awareness of the business online and increase footfall to our website. Secondly, we use the content as a way to build relationships with journalists and trade press. Even if we don’t get an interview or a piece published, we’re still directly in touch with these editors which raises our profile.

“The third way is very direct: taking it to pitches and sharing with potential clients. The message we’re getting across is ‘here we are, this is what we do, and this our thinking which is relevant to you’.

“We now have a constantly evolving hub of content, specifically aimed at certain people in certain industries. Once we secure a meeting with a potential client, we are in a position to follow up a pitch with a piece of content to better explain our ethos.

“Having an article that we’ve produced as a leave behind rather than a creds deck – which every agency does – immediately sets us apart. It is not necessarily something we have spoken about, so again shows that we are thinking about them, we know their industry, we are knowledgeable.”

The results

“Producing content with Future Content has been phenomenal”, says James. “It’s helped us develop concepts which sell, focused our thinking and ideas, and given us a body of work which we’re proud of. The content consistently makes an impact to a room of brand managers, marketing directors, and marketing juniors.

“We took one piece to a global FMCG brand, and left it behind to a room of 30 people. We were up against four larger agencies for the business, but we were the ones who won it – a massive contract for us. We won’t say this is solely down to the content, we put some work in too [laughs] but it certainly helped as a differentiator. In fact, we were the only people to catch the attention of the marketing director there, who started asking us questions about disruption by design and processes.

“The content is well-written, engaging, and perfectly targeted to our audience. It has helped build attention for the agency, deepen relationships, and contributed to closing deals.

“Added to the fact that they’re a great team who are clearly invested in our success – you really can’t ask for much more.”

“Producing content with Future Content has been phenomenal. It’s helped us develop concepts which sell, focused our thinking and ideas, and given us a body of work which we’re proud of. 

“They are fantastic self-starters and have not only written us excellent, effective content, but have organised the production of it with very little needed from me - which was, and is, brilliant.

“Added to the fact that they’re a great team who are clearly invested in our success - you really can’t ask for much more.”

James Hirst

Managing Director, Rare Design

Rare Design’s Content

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The Organic Ideation ebook

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Breaking the habit: the innovative, addictive future of big food and tobacco

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How Häagen Dazs rewrote the rules on ice cream

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