Design Management, Creative Direction, Visual Design, Branding, Campaign, Print
Following the successful relaunch of the new Cheapflights brand and off the back of multi-million pound TV campaign, 2016 was set to be a year for aggressive growth for the business and the brand. With a presence in 12 markets and a leader in English speaking South Africa, UK, Australia and New Zealand, Cheapflights was ready to mark it's position in the industry and celebrate best in class with trade partners and customers with the Cheapflights Awards, a prestigious in-market celebration event, with shortlisted nominees, media, industry stakeholders and partners.
- Plan and execute a low-cost, high impact Awards campaign for key markets
- Position the brand as an arbiter of excellence and experts in the travel/customer journey and engage a conversation with our users and newsletter community
- Raise the profile of the brand and enhance relationships with trade partners
- Acquire email sign-ups and new users
- Generate incremental SEO value and drive positive editorial relationships with key trade and consumer media (direct and through partners)
Working as the head of Creative Services I worked closely with Head of PR to work on a strategy to outline all deliverables that would be required throughout the campaign and signing off assets during the process. Having worked throughout the course of the rebrand as the lead product designer it was important that I communicated to my team the learnings and requirements we needed to meet for this campaign. The Awards visual identity needed to align with the core Cheapflights brand as a sub-brand with key focus being on the use of brand colours, typography and visual design standards. We had the freedom to explore illustrative graphics and different logo lock-ups which were investigated and then developed to create a mini-brand book to be shared amongst stakeholders.
Each market required bespoke iconography for the categories, so keeping in line with the signed off style a full suite of illustrative icons were created and used on both digital and printed collateral. The initial concept was developed by the in-house graphic designer and expanded for each market by the senior designer who I promoted to lead and take on more ownership of the growing work load coming into our department. Keeping an eye on the overall brand experience I worked with the designers to refine, develop and sign off the iconography. Below shows the example of the initial icons for South Africa and how they were developed for other markets with the design remaining seamless throughout.
The responsive landing page was integral throughout the entire life cycle of the campaign from voting for the nominees through to competition closure and winner announcements. Working closely with internal stakeholders and a collaborative roadmap, design of the page was completed ahead of voting with all states completed for voting states, form entries, competition mechanics, newsletter integration, campaign closure and winner listings post campaign for each event.
I worked on the initial responsive landing page and then closely with the lead designer to develop the design so it could be scoped for increased content and functionality. I transitioned from being hands on in design to transferring responsibility and aiding in-house training for my designers to complete the work whilst continually advising and contributing when required.
Evolution of the design
Working closely with marketing and development, the CF Awards landing page went through an evolution to cope with the increased volume of content. Making sure that PR were open to a change in functionality I discussed with the development team to change the visual design of the landing page. The Voting functionality was shifted from a view all scroll which led to a very lengthy mobile screen to a carousel set to the smallest supported mobile screen size so that the user could focus on a single vote with navigation and progress bar to manage expectations. Using new software and workflow processes, the designs were delivered in Sketch and prototypes delivered through the Invision app for feedback and development.
Visual Design System
With a successful launch in South Africa the event was rolled out to the UK and Australia in 2017. It became apparent that in order for the Awards digital product to have scope and to evolve with the main Cheapflights brand it needed to be tied into the Visual Design System project that was in progress. The Visual Design System project was set up to ultimately improve, simplify and clean up UI design for a better user experience.
I set up meetings between marketing and product designers to aid in the development and integration of both projects. The product designers were developing UI pattern libraries and components that would need to be tested before being launched on the main website and app, so I utilised what had been signed off as the styles to be used for the new landing page. This encouraged designers of different disciplines to skill share and aid in the overall delivery of branded products. By applying the new styles onto a campaign the product designers could assess where new styles would be required and changes made.
The landing page was one of the first campaigns to utilise signed off styles for typography, form fields and colour treatment whilst a bespoke modular Wordpress backend dashboard was created. The Wordpress Dashboard became a business need in the light of increased campaign builds in-house. The modules needed to reflect campaign types, hold a varied set of content and media, be accessible for content changes for the marketing teams throughout campaign life cycle and offer branded and co-branded sponsorship offerings whilst being designed for mobile first usage. Creative Services worked on design, support documentation, workshops and training with marketing, sales and content share on best practices and application of branded campaigns.
For each Awards ceremony offline collateral was required to dress the location and to support the running of the event. Collateral included trophies, certificates, menu cards, pull up banners, drinks labels, cushions, video and powerpoint presentations. Managing such a project with so many moving parts required that I had meticulous project management, clear communication with the project owner and lead designers to deliver seamless and cost effect creative deliverables. Photos below of the UK event exhibiting some of the branded pieces.
Promotion and Results
The campaign required design support through every stage, from design conception, public launch, call to vote, event preparation, social activation, competition promotion and winner announcements. A full suite of banners and emails were created for social, editorials and newsletter to be shared throughout internal and 3rd party channels including templates for rapid testing of social engagement.
The templates were one of the biggest changes made to the delivery of display advertising as design resource was having to be very carefully allocated with more work coming in-house. The decision to give ownership of the templates to other teams meant data reports at the end of the campaign, would show more in-depth results in user engagement as photography, layout, copy were easily changed and tested. Taking these results then allowed Creative Service to refine the templates and create guidelines for their use.
Giving all relevant parties access to creative assets via a cloud based service (e.g. Google Drive) - but with continued creative final sign off remaining with the project and creative leads to retain version control would have helped with communications especially via email and with 3rd party stakeholders. By 2017 I transitioned and optimised the project to be fully cloud based, have a dedicated design lead, which improved the sign-off and asset delivery whilst keeping control of sign off and permissions.
Bringing in the development team earlier into the process to ensure all optimisation, design and QA factors were played in and ready for launch would have benefitted the initial campaign. Sacrifices were made due to time management which included design and interactivity elements.
Overseeing the standardising, documentation and scope for the design team allowed for the growth in out-put with each event. This extra time allowed for brand and product evolution with market specific customisations to really make the event recognisable as a Cheapflights product with a local feel.
- UK example:
- The campaign generated 5.7 million social impressions over the campaign life-cycle
- Social media campaign user engagements included 82,000 on Facebook and 17,000 on Twitter across mobile and desktop
- The landing page traffic had over 71,000 page views over 5 weeks with an 84% entry rate
- Campaign promotion generated 59,000 voting entries with 18,000 newsletter sign-ups (33% opt-in)
Client: Cheapflights Role: Design Management, Creative Direction, Visual Design, Print Design Team: Creative Services, Wordpress Dev, PR, Marketing