Design automation: the next step in marketing tech

by Scott Bonanno

17 May 2018

Running Liquorice for the last 10 years has given me a great deal of insight into how B2C marketing teams operate. This has lead to the creation of our associated product company, Dokio.

Everyone wants to be working on the next big campaign (agencies included), but there seems to be a never-ending stream of ad-hoc artwork requests, last-minute changes, resizes, localisations…. (you get the idea).

At first glance, so much of the business-as-usual work looks like it should be mind-numbingly simple — a change to a press ad headline, an image swap on an email, updates to a legal disclaimer — but it’s that work that can quickly fill up our days.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand why it all takes time — with stakeholder sign-off, legal approvals, brand sign-off, minimum agency turn-around times, it’s no wonder that so many hours are sunk into what looks like it should be the simplest of tasks, and don’t get me started on the cost.

This inefficiency is what a marketing design automation platform like Dokio tries to address.

How it works

Design automation software gives clients a safe and secure platform from which a large portion of their branded communications can be created, distributed and managed. The core function of design automation is to create consistent, on-brand communications without the need for design software, graphic designers or design agencies.

A design automation platform can include features such as:

• Automatic application of brand style guides
• Automatic content selection
• Centralised content management
• Dynamic data feeds
• Smart approval workflows
• Content reactive templates

That doesn’t mean you should kiss all your agencies goodbye but it should let you get some of the simple work off their plate and get them back to working on more important things.

Who needs it and why?

Platforms like Dokio work well in medium to large organisations and up until now, the majority of our customers are large B2C brands. Aside from marketing teams, design automation can be useful for sales teams, retail managers (such as franchises or branch owners) or as a support for internal design departments.

The benefits of implementing a design automation platform include:

• Saving time by empowering people to do more for themselves
• Saving money by reducing the reliance on external marketing agencies
• Reducing regulatory risk and improving brand consistency by ensuring content is always up to date and properly version controlled
• Protecting your brand by ensuring style guides are applied correctly
• Giving yourself more room for creativity and experimentation without the cost

More than a just set of templates

The key to good design automation systems is control. It’s about giving users just the right amount of access so they can change exactly what they need to and nothing else. This control, combined with a centralised data management system and approval workflows is what makes a design automation platform so much more powerful than just a set of freely editable templates.

• Users only edit what we want them to and everything else is locked down
• Everything lives in the cloud meaning everything, including notifications, distribution and updates, happens instantly (no more old disclaimers, invalid dates)

Templates react as users change the content, meaning:

• Headlines scale to fit
• Text moves around imagery
• Artwork resizes dynamically

Main use cases

A design automation platform has fairly widespread application. The most common use cases so far lie within large organisations and include:

• Local area marketing automation
• Alignment of National / Global marketing teams
• Bespoke tools for sales teams
• Self service for franchise networks / retail networks
• Supplement for internal communications teams

What’s next?

As we continue to develop the software and work with new clients, we’re finding more and more areas where we can help. Dokio isn’t an out-of-the-box product, each client has a hub custom-built for them, meaning we’re learning about Dokio and what it can do over and over again.

We’re yet to hit the limitations of its usefulness, which is a pretty exciting place to be.

Get in touch

If you’re interested in learning more about design automation with Dokio get in touch with our friends at Dokio here