Meet the 2020 Research Team: Digital Strategies

Works Design’s 2020 Sustainability Reporting Trends team of digital strategists: Madi Lantz (top left), Ellie Rosen (bottom middle) and Kate Heron (bottom right)
Sep 29, 2020 Madi Lantz, Kate Heron Interviews, Trendspotting

To introduce the 2020 edition of Works Design’s Sustainability Reporting Trends, we asked our research team what surprised them the most about this year’s trends. Here is what our digital strategies team had to say:

Madi Lantz, Marketing Coordinator

Madi Lantz, Marketing Coordinator
What is your role on this year’s trends research project?

My role is to look at the companies within our sample and observe any digital strategies used to promote sustainability. My searches are mainly focused on how companies promote their report and initiatives on social platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn. But I also look for creative ways companies are promoting their materials using more emerging strategies, like influencer campaigns, sponsored content and editorials, and direct stakeholder engagement.

What has been your favourite sector to work on and why?

The Resources sector revealed a lot of great work around the promotion of long-term sustainability strategies. Shell, BASF and BP all had fantastic integrated digital strategies highlighting their long-term goals. Shell does a great job of promoting its 2050 strategy in a series of threaded tweets, and invites users to a 2050 strategy landing page where they detail actions and objectives. BASF uses many integrated pieces across all their social feeds that focus on their 25-year sustainability strategy. BP’s 2050 strategy #BPNetZero uses a robust landing page and creative identity, which is also supported across all of their social platforms.

What shifts have you seen in sustainability reporting due to COVID-19?

Throughout my research I found myself scrolling through months of COVID-related content, as companies were often only addressing the pandemic on their social channels and not in their sustainability reports.

What was your favourite digital campaign from this year’s sample?

My favourite integrated digital strategy this year was Women@Sanofi, which promotes a series of individual conversations with female Sanofi employees around some of the material topics that the company promotes. The campaign promotes both diversity and gender equality and uses a landing page full of articles. Each article includes a candid interview and video about each woman’s professional journey. The interviews are promoted on the company’s social channels. Overall, the campaign is very intriguing, as having these intimate and personalized stories makes viewers feel more connected to the company.

What are three things that you need in your at-home workspace while auditing the sample of companies?

My home office must be equipped with an iced coffee, my dog Tango, and the latest Maren Morris album “Girl” playing in the background.

Kate Heron, Marketing Manager

Kate Heron, Marketing Manager
What is your role on this year’s trends research project?

Along with Madi, I’m auditing the digital strategies in use by companies in our sample. We’re keeping our eyes peeled for anything new and notable when it comes to content creation, social media, digital campaigns – anything companies are doing to get attention on their reporting and their overall sustainability strategy.

What has been your favourite sector to work on and why?

The Retail and Consumer Goods sectors – as a whole – utilized every individual trend that I saw over the course of my auditing. This is both unsurprising (they have great marketing budgets) and surprising at the same time – when we’re talking to a mainstream audience, I’m seeing more emphasis on sustainability than ever before. We saw the whole smorgasbord of tactics deployed: gorgeous landing pages about supply chain and biodiversity, influencer campaigns about next-generation materials, massive shifts in the tone of corporate sponsorships. We’re even seeing sustainability being integrated into the user interface of online stores: customers being offered the chance to shop products with a lower carbon footprint.

What shifts have you seen in sustainability reporting due to COVID-19?

My research doesn’t extend into the nitty gritty of reporting, but on social, it was a huge challenge to separate true signal (corporate strategy) from repetitious noise (everyday COVID-19 tactics) in 2020. This is understandable, but the voice, essence and purpose of many brands have been lost since mid-March. Brands have shifted from storytelling into informing and are struggling to find the balance. Finding success with this is a huge opportunity as we go forward into 2021.

What was your favourite digital campaign from this year’s sample?

Maersk did a few really smart campaigns that caught my eye. They’ve partnered with Bloomberg on a few pieces of interactive sponsored content (spon con, as the kids say) including one about COVID. They’ve also partnered with an organization called The Ocean Cleanup, which is a great fit – what I love is that Ocean Cleanup has a web series on YouTube. The Maersk brand (and its brilliant brand blue – actually trademarked as Pantone Maersk Blue) gets a heavy organic feature in almost every episode. It’s a constant, subconscious association with the brand. Redraw the Balance was another wonderful campaign that wasn’t exactly a new message (we’ve seen versions of this before) but I appreciated the execution a great deal.

What are three things that you need in your at-home workspace while auditing the sample of companies?

A dual monitor situation, real good coffee and the Command-Shift-5 function on my Mac (which I didn’t know about until last year!). Far superior to Command-Shift-4. You’re welcome.

Ellie Rosen, Project Management Office Director

Ellie Rosen, Project Management Office Director
What is your role on this year’s trends research project?

Project manager. “Herder of sheep.”

What has been your favourite sector to work on and why?

I was most looking forward to the High Tech sector, being a self-proclaimed geek. I thought that they would have some really interesting reports and innovative design, but not so much. The Consumer Goods sector was interesting, lots of recognizable brands, which makes the content more relatable, and a lot of nice nods to usability throughout their reports. And Utilities had some really interesting approaches to extending their messaging and interacting with the end user, which I appreciated. Wait, was I supposed to pick one?

What shifts have you seen in sustainability reporting due to COVID-19?

I’ve noticed a lot less photography in this year’s reporting, which I assume is due to social distancing and the closures that came with the pandemic. Companies are being really creative, though, in how they get around this, whether it be repurposing existing photography in a different way, introducing more illustration and icons, or simply embracing the reality that we are in and utilizing the other communication tools that have become so prevalent now.

What was your favourite design/digital campaign/report from this year’s sample?

Tough one… I liked all the interactivity that ABB incorporated into their report. I think it made the content really come to life, and the report itself is nice and clean. Merck KGaA just makes me happy to look at, it’s fun and inviting. All that being said, I think this year’s GTAA report was outstanding: it had a strong message carried through (a message that was especially pertinent during the pandemic) and visually I felt it was very impactful and easy to navigate.

What are three things that you need in your at-home workspace while auditing the sample of companies?

COFFEE, a big monitor, and some white noise.

Works Design has been tracking key trends in corporate reporting and communications for over two decades. Our insights have helped shape the look, feel, functionality and content of leading corporate reports. The 2020 edition of our Sustainability Reporting Trends and Best Practices launches in September.

Be sure to sign up for our In Scope Digest Newsletter to receive your copy. 

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Madi Lantz
Madi Lantz
Madi Lantz

Madi has worked as the Marketing Coordinator at The Works since 2018. She recently graduated from the Bachelor of Commerce program in Marketing Management at Dalhousie University. She lives by the 3 S’s – Social Media, Starbucks & Shoes

Kate Heron is the Marketing Manager at The Works Design Communications.
Kate Heron
Kate Heron is the Marketing Manager at The Works Design Communications.

Kate is our Marketing Manager and has a knack for research, writing and Google Analytics. She is an ardent surfer, a New England Patriots fan and fosters Future Guide Dogs for the Lions Foundation of Canada. Find her on Twitter at @KateHeronWorks.

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