Visual Product Narrative System

An innovative design ops system enabling faster creation of brand-aligned visual product storytelling across Citrix SaaS products and design teams.

The Challenge: Help global marketing, PR, sales and product teams to align around a central source of truth for product-level visual storytelling.
Citrix Mobility Apps represents a broad and diverse portfolio of SaaS products targeted at a wide range of business customers. All of these products have strong brands within their target markets, but the goal of my team was not only to build strong products brands, but to integrate and unify this portfolio of disparate business tools under a single Citrix master brand -- in effect telling a new story that helped integrate a mix of SMB software tools into a unified set of solutions to the problems that businesses face everywhere.
When evaluating the mechanics of brand governance, one option is the traditional brand management funnel: develop general guidelines for things like brand identity and tone & voice, while also acting as a centralized resource for consulting on brand-related activity that fell outside of the general brand guidelines. I quickly realized that this traditional reactionary model completely failed to scale with the needs and speeds of a global SaaS company in the midst of profound business change. Inevitably, teams would either come to us too late, or route around Brand entirely if their perception was that we would be a hindrance to making deadlines. Teams desperately wanted to align to brand strategy and see the Citrix brand appropriately reflected in their products and marketing/design activities, but brand oversight and alignment was seen as a luxury, not a necessity. 
The Innovation: Radically rethink our approach to brand brand management to focus on carrots, not sticks. 
Instead of doubling-down on brand governance models, and trying to institute better mechanisms for brand oversight, we turned the equation on its head: what if the measure of success for brand management was how infrequently teams needed to consult with brand management? After all, if Brand  as a function was perceived as being something that slowed teams down, then we ourselves were operating counter to a Global business brand that has at its core a mission to remove the technical barriers that stand between businesses and the work they need to get done. 
So my team started identifying brand touchpoints where we wanted to align work across the organization. We then developed concepts for how we might not only address the brand-related questions that teams had, but to try and provide where possible ready-made answers that helped them move faster, while also aligning to core brand identity and brand storytelling best-practices. 
One of those high-value areas was how we told a visual story around the products themselves. Product imagery is a huge part of helping customers understand the value of a software product. But pressures to innovate, to add features and to continually build product value means that marketing, sales and PR teams are always playing catch-up with product innovation. Additionally, they often rely on product teams to provide relevant screenshots of product features. The challenge is that product teams are intimate with their products in a way the rest of the world will never be. On top of all this, in a portfolio of products whose development and marketing spanned the globe, the ways that product benefit was illustrated through images varied considerably. 
My goal was to bridge this divide in three ways: 
-Develop a common set of best-practices for product-level visual storytelling. Most critically, how do we clearly articulate key product benefits in the imagery we use?  
-Design a process that helps teams create and manage these assets in a way that keeps pace with the accelerating speed of product evolution. 
-Provide a single source of truth visual storytelling assets easily accessible to any Citrix employee, team or agency partner.
The Transformation: A new set of brand guidelines and an entire brand asset library focused on product-level visual storytelling. ​​​​​​​
The Brand Experience team worked with product marketing and product management stakeholders across Citrix to identify key value props, use-cases and use-contexts for every Citrix Mobility Apps product. Then, with the help of our agency partner Superhumanoid, we brought these user-oriented stories to life through carefully-curated product scenarios designed to showcase product benefit across a range of device contexts. The key innovation here was moving away from a photoshop-oriented production process. For fast-changing products, the ground truth has to be the product itself. The existing production process centered on UX teams providing production UI files that were then reprocessed in Photoshop by visual designers. This was a time-consuming process. We developed a series of application contexts that enabled designers to use the application itself to generate new product imagery. This cut out a huge amount of production work, and helped repurpose designer's time to focusing on developing better stories, and not just cutting up UX files from scratch for each product update. Updates became easy, and tracked with product changes. Storytelling lined-up with overall product strategy and user research. And a portfolio of disparate products started to look like they were part of a larger business solution. And Brand helped the business move faster and look better.

You may also like

Andrulaitis + Mixon Brand Development
Citrix GoToMeeting Competitive Intelligence and Insight
Pneuma Revisited: Cyfest 2017, Russia
Citrix Mobility Apps Brand Guidelines for Social Media
Citrix Mobility Apps Naming Guidlines
Medlock Ames Website Packaging
Citrix Labs Brand System
Thread Recruiting Identity
Global Visual Identity Redesign
HiNT Identity
Back to Top