Totem turning content into a brand asset

Totem has evolved from its print heritage into a company that specializes in content strategy.
Totem's Content Operating System takes an all-encompassing look at a client's operation to develop customized content solutions embracing three service categories: strategy, creation, and distribution.

Totem’s Content Operating System takes an all-encompassing look at a client’s operation to develop customized content solutions embracing three service categories: strategy, creation, and distribution.

Totem has evolved from its print heritage into a company that specializes in content strategy. The approach is based on a framework they refer to as ‘the Content Operating System’ – strategy, creation and distribution – and begins by taking an all-encompassing look at a client’s operation to discover all content and service opportunities.

Louis-Jacques Darveau, vice-president Content Solutions and general manager of Totem, says, “Content strategy includes more than content marketing or branded content and, while logically you’re doing this to feed your brand ecosystem, it also fosters your ability to do customer activation and build greater customer engagement.”

Darveau adds that research and performance metrics, numbers that support decisions in real time, are very important for fine-tuning the distribution aspect of content. “There’s a proliferation of channels and all kinds of niche opportunities, but if you’re going at it blind and not looking at the efficiency of your messaging and how effectively you package it, then you’re going to miss opportunities.”

A content strategy doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time. Every client requires a different mix of strategy and execution, from print to digital interactive content, audio and video broadcast and podcast. The strategy could result in an embedded on-site team, a custom-made newsroom and content created on a daily, weekly or monthly schedule. “Distribution possibilities are endless,” explains Darveau. “Ultimately, it’s about intent. We help clients formulate that intent and understand the underlying purpose.”

Totem's strategy team works to turn content into an asset by providing clients with service design, journalism, digital development and custom publishing.

Totem’s strategy team works to turn content into an asset by providing clients with service design, journalism, digital development and custom publishing.

When working with a new client that may have used a print publication as a key marketing tool, Totem first assesses the value of the publication to the brand before looking at ways to optimize the print and grow the brand’s audience across platforms. It is a bottom-up rather than a top-down approach for both distributing the content as well as for collecting all the information that comes out of the process.

Although a print magazine might ultimately be a prestige component of a strategy, it will be part of a larger content ecosystem.

Patrick Pittman, Totem’s executive editor, explains, “It’s not useful these days to think of print and digital as separate, competing disciplines. We take a step back from the specific questions of whether we need a print magazine or web content and look at the business’ existing content, asking how it works across all platforms and channels, and how will it go out to consumers, your audience and organization. In the end, it is about collaborating on content that becomes more than just an advertising or marketing deliverable.

“It all needs to be part of something cohesive. And, that’s the strategy behind it.”



About Totem:

Totem is staffed by a team of experts in service design, journalism, digital development and custom publishing. The team mixes the company’s rich history of storytelling with a systematic approach and a design mentality to help clients develop thoughtful narrative experiences for their audiences.

Through nearly two decades of pioneering work with some of North America’s best-known brands, Totem has come to understand the challenges marketers face as the landscape around them transforms beyond recognition. The company started out making magazines for big brands and today its work extends into every aspect of its clients’ organizations to help them uncover and realize their content and service opportunities across all platforms.

Totem is part of the TC Media family, which gives it access to all the resources and know-how of one of North America’s leading providers of media and marketing activation solutions.

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