What is atomic content design and why is it a power-up? - Brilliant Noise

What is atomic content design and why is it a power-up?

By Stephanie Hubbard, April 2022. Posts

Atomic content design is a smart way to reduce marketing waste and content duplication, whilst increasing content usability and effectiveness. But what is it, really?

Here’s everything we know, and why we think it’s a brilliant method for efficient, agile global marketing.

What is atomic content?

Atomic content is digital content that is produced with the intention of being usable in many forms, places and combinations. 

To use our client adidas’s term: it’s content that’s made to be remade. 

Atomic content is inspired by a way of thinking about web development called ‘atomic design’. This term was first used by a web designer called Brad Frost to describe a method for designing user interfaces. Its guiding principle is that web page components should be broken down to their smallest parts. Being able to deploy them in lots of different ways made web builds much more efficient. 

Atomic content design uses this same principle to break down a piece of content – a film, a graphic, an image – into component parts (or, atoms) so they can be used independent of each other. 

It means that you can create a new asset from a remix of existing content to suit your project’s needs, culture or language. This makes atomic content especially useful for marketing localisation when you’re operating a global organisation, but it has a huge number of other benefits. 

It means you can use or change any part of an asset – the logo, the copy, the people, the product – to serve whatever purpose you need, whatever campaign you’re running, or whatever story you need to tell. This improves the overall utility of marketing assets and means you can produce new marketing materials faster. 

Atomised content example

A global food company with different markets all over the world needs to create a campaign to encourage customers to buy the product more often. In different countries, the product has a different brand and is even marketed under different names. Usually, this means each country has to create their own campaign, from scratch. Using an atomised content approach, the company can create the campaign once, but make it fully customisable for the local markets.

They can create all marketing assets from one centralised hub, and because all assets are atomised, they’re ready to be edited by the markets to contain their brand, their product, their language and their cultural nuances. Saving budget, time and effort for all global marketing teams.


Make less, but better

We’re all used to thinking that new content is premium and old content is mainly useless. Atomised content flips that belief. Using an atomised content model means you’re creating content that’s designed to be remixed into whatever is needed at a particular time in a particular place; which drastically increases the usability of content assets, making them usable in more ways and at different times.

It’s the ultimate method for making less, but making it work harder.

For atomic content to be as effective as it can, it requires a certain level of content management hygiene. It’s essential to keep an accurate inventory of the whole organisation’s content marketing assets. Keeping them stored in a globally accessible system, and always up-to-date, tagged and searchable, so that when global and local teams are prepping the next campaign, they have assets to easily use and reuse – saving time, effort, and money.

What are the benefits of atomic content design?

Here are our top five benefits of using an atomic content design method:

1. Faster operational efficiency

If content is more usable and findable by marketing teams, then time and effort is being used more efficiently – from content planning right through to regional activation.

2. Global team performance

The global team can maintain creative oversight, but local markets feel more in control of their campaigns; they are able to solve their own problems and can tell highly localised, personalised stories. 

3. Stop paying local agencies to do the same thing

An increase in the usability of global marketing assets means reduced need for the production of new assets in every market every time you have a new campaign. 

4. Meaningful measurement

When you can see how much of the content is being used, it’s easier to work out the ROI for content spend vs content use and performance.

5. Transform global content 

Improving the system that supports global marketing operations with an atomised approach means taking everyone along for the ride. This creates better communication and encourages a more open, test-and-learn mindset throughout the organisation.

What we do and how we help

We’ve used an atomic content approach to help global brands across multiple sectors like adidas, BMW and Nestlé optimise their global marketing operations.

Most marketing teams are time-poor and need their budgets to go further. So we cut the effort, time, budget and carbon that goes into global campaign planning to reduce content marketing waste and improve content usability and performance.

We create campaign content toolkits in an atomised format ready for known or unknown future needs. We supply hero and campaign assets in components, so that they can be used in multiple formats, languages and uses in the future. Then we run small pilots to test and learn what works best for you. Or, we can work with you to create atomic campaign toolkits in-house.

Want to know more? Get in touch.