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You might be surprised to learn how small the Lumix marketing team is at Panasonic North America! In this episode Steph Moccia tells us what it’s like to work on the design & creative strategy at such a large global brand. You’ll hear about how the North America team works with the head office in Japan, where the marketing team focusses their efforts, and Steph’s goals for the brands reputation and image.
0:00 - Introduction
1:30 - Team structure
6:40 - Marketing team focus
8:50 - Social media efforts
10:00 - Design tools & workflow
10:45 - Working with head office in Japan
14:30 - Role responsibilities
17:50 - Projects at Lumix
21:15 - Brand refinements
23:20 - Determining the success of a project
26:05 - Challenges & areas for growth
28:50 - Favorite parts of the job
30:00 - Wrap up
Charli: Welcome to a new episode of Inside Marketing Design. If we haven't met yet, I'm Charli. I'm the marketing design lead at ConvertKit. And I started this series to basically talk to my peers in the industry, my fellow marketing designers, about how they get work done at their companies. In today's episode, I'm speaking to Steph Moccia who works on the Lumix team at Panasonic North America. Now Panasonic is obviously a huge global company. They have about 270,000 people worldwide and then about 13,000 of those work in the US. Their business spans from consumer electronics, like TVs, Lumix cameras, grooming products, microwaves, but also they do B2B products as well. For example, I learned that they make batteries for electric cars like Teslas. I'm really glad that Steph was able to come on the show and tell us about how marketing design works for the Lumix category, but also about how their team fits in with the wider company as a whole. So let's get into it and take a look inside marketing design at Lumix.
Welcome, Steph, to Inside Marketing Design.
Steph: Thank you.
Charli: I'm so excited to have you here. I was really excited when I saw your name pop up because, I mean, Panasonic, huge company, and it's just great that your company is open to you being on the show to share things. So I'm excited to dig in and learn how marketing design works. Let's start by talking about your role in the company and where it fits. Talk us through your role, what team you sit on, where that team sits within the company. Give us a quick lay of the land.
Steph: So Panasonic, like you said, huge company, they're everywhere, and North America I work in the Newark office. And it's a very small team with Lumix. I think we are less than 20 people in office and then we have, obviously, a whole bunch of ambassadors, a whole bunch of in-store support specialists. Now we're all working remotely, but as a team, we're very tight knit. We're just always available to each other and it's really nice to be that flexible and have direct access to the sales side of things, which I don't have much experience with.
Charli: Right. So who do you report to on your team? Who's your manager?
Steph: So I work for Michelle Esgar. She is the group manager for brand experience for all of Panasonic consumer electronics. Panasonic consumer is everything from microwaves to shavers, to vacuums and beauty products. Since it's such a wide category of products, I am also dedicated solely to Lumix, but I have a complimentary designer who I sit with, who does all of the rest of the categories.
Charli: In you saying this, it sounds like, are you the only designer on the marketing side of the Lumix team then?
Steph: Yes. I am the sole designer. My partner will pick up the slack if I'm overwhelmed. We also have a contractor who is very wonderful and he does a lot of the production design for stuff like Amazon and the website, so if we we're launching a new product, he does all of the website support for that.
Steph: So it's a very small design team. It's my boss, the other designer, me, and the contractor. And then we have a copywriter, too. So five people.
Charli: Wow, that's so small considering how huge Panasonic is.
Charli: Wow. That's just mind boggling. Do you ever get to interact much with designers elsewhere in the company, 'cause I'm assuming there are designers elsewhere in the company. Do you operate as a wider design team at all?
Steph: We should, we should talk to them a lot more than we do. Occasionally, they'll come up and ask us questions about things, but right now, no. It's something I've been actually wanting to do for awhile, especially with the Varicam team, because we have the S1H which is a very high powered cinema camera and I would love to pick their brains sometimes about what the direction the Varicam is going in. But no, as of right now, we're kind of like, we stick to ourselves in the day-to-day.
Charli: I think that it's really hard in a company when that sort of splintering has already happened. It's hard to bring things back together again. I've found this even in ConvertKit that for a long time product and marketing design has been very separate. We talk to each other and we're a small company, there's only like 50 something of us, so it's easy to see what everyone else is working on, but we haven't really been operating as a cohesive design team essentially. I mean, even in our tiny scale compared to yours, it's been hard to bring that back together again, so I get it completely.
Steph: Yeah, and like I said, we only have in office less than 20 people, I think 20 may be stretching it, and they are often shared with other divisions, like headphones or techniques audio or something like that. So their time isn't 100% Lumix like mine is, so they might be splitting their time with other categories. Day-to-day, I only work with my marketing manager, that's it, one person most of the time day-to-day. My boss will sometimes come in and check in on us, but she's given us a lot of autonomy to take the brand and run with it.
Charli: That's great. It's awesome to be able to have that sort of autonomy, despite being part of such a large global brand. And that must be great for you as a designer to know that you can still have that.
Steph: It's extremely liberating, actually. I've worked with a lot of companies where the brand voice was already established and we were speaking to a very tight audience, but this is just basically like a blank canvas. Even though we have a lot of history, we haven't done enough self promotion as a brand to really have a distinct voice in the lineup. So I feel like we're a little bit still pretty neutral to most people. And the brand sentiment that we have is overwhelmingly positive with our existing customers, so it's just a matter of trying to find people who haven't tried us yet.
Charli: Yeah. And it must be fun to be able to build that voice and what those visuals are gonna look and feel like. Let's talk a little bit about what you actually work on as a team. Where does the marketing team for Lumix focus their efforts? What do you find yourself working on most often?
Steph: Most often I find myself on, I would say, campaigns.
Steph: So last year we ran a big campaign for the S series around the S1H launch, but also the S1 got a V-Log firmware upgrade which is to anyone who doesn't know cameras a total snooze fest, to anyone who does knows cameras, that's really exciting information. We were doing a free promotion where if you bought an S1, you got the free firmware upgrade which was normally like $200. And I think there was also a promotion running at the time, too, so we were just really heavy into promotion for those cameras.
Charli: Yeah, and what does a campaign look like? What do you find yourself designing as part of a campaign?
Steph: Anything from, we did a website takeover for Cinema Five Day, we did events for the S1H launch. So we did posters and wayfinding stuff, flyers. We used to do a lot of trade show materials, so like little cards to hand out at the booths. And just a lot of retail support. So not only companies like B & H and Adoroma, but we support all of our mom and pop camera shops as well because if we don't give them high quality posters and counter cards and flyers, they're not gonna get them, they're not gonna get out there.
Charli: Right, they're not gonna pay for their own designer to go and create something so it's really helpful when you can provide it. This is reminding me so much of my first job in the design industry, my first job as a designer. I worked for a company that distributed Mitsubishi electric products. So it wasn't as cool as cameras, it was like heat pumps and refrigerators. But, yeah, I remember having to do things for dealers, like creating templates for them to run ads in their local newspapers and things like that.
Steph: Yeah, we've actually scaled back doing web banners significantly, one thing that we were doing a lot of when I started, and I'm like the juice isn't worth the squeeze on this. We're not getting nearly enough out of it for the amount of time we're putting into it. So I managed to switch and pivot our web banner efforts into social media, which all of our dealers have appreciated so far, 'cause that's where they're doing most of their promotion anyway is on social media these days. I also have been the kick in the pants to put our brand on Instagram stories more, and we were starting to scale up to it pre-COVID and trying to figure out what kind of content we wanna put onto it, and then as soon as COVID came, one of our managers said we have to really, really dig into social, and I'm like, I am here for you. Boy, do I have ideas. And I've been doing most of my Instagram story animation in Keynote actually,
Steph: which is very different because I don't know After Effects, but I really wanna learn it. So I think that's gonna be like, my goal eventually is to actually learn quote unquote real animation.
Charli: Yeah, yeah, I gotcha, but you're making do right now with what you've got. Let's quickly touch on some other tools that are part of your process then since you brought that up. So aside from Keynote, what else do you use as part of your design process?
Steph: Total Adobe Workflow and Photoshop almost all day, every day, occasionally Illustrator sometimes in design if I have like a brochure to edit. But usually we get assets from Japan and they'll be translated into English pretty well and then we'll take them to our copywriter to make them feel a little bit more natural. And then I take that and do the actual laying out and changing some of the photography out to be more relatable to a US audience.
Charli:Yeah. I'd love to dig into that a little bit deeper. How much freedom can you have with the brand when you are part of such a huge global brand? It sounds like your team can have a lot of autonomy, but there's gonna be a limit to that autonomy, right? Where does that end for you? What are you allowed to change and what aren't you?
Steph: I think our global team has been extremely open to whatever we bring to the table. I'm extremely fortunate. My marketing partner, Emmy, is Japanese. She's on loan to us, as kind of like a work study for two years, so she's in our American office learning how our side of the business works. But in two years she'll go back to Japan and we will get hopefully someone as good as she is 'cause she is awesome. She's been a great asset to our team and she's been very good about taking my ideas to them and if they're not open to it initially figuring out like a compromise. So she's been kind of like that bridge to global.
Charli: I love that when you get that ideal work partnership, and you can just make some good things together.
Steph: It's so rare.
Charli: It is, you're right, but it's wonderful when it happens. That's cool, okay, so it sounds like you've got much more freedom than I was expecting, honestly. I just always have this preconceived notion that any company of that size, things are gonna be pretty strict and you're gonna have a lot of constraints to deal with.
Steph: Don't get me wrong. They do have an expectation for us as far as the brand look and feel. It's actually being re-evaluated right now, so because it's being re-evaluated, I feel like we have a little bit of wiggle room.
Charli: But you can have an impact on what that re-evaluation looks like with the ideas that you're sharing back to the team.
Steph: And thankfully they're open to our suggestions and they're willing to let us take the lead on some global initiatives, like if we have a product launch, maybe giving me the email for the global launch instead of the Japanese team developing it. So I also do a lot, a lot of email.
Charli: Oh yeah?
Steph: That's the bulk of what I'm doing, is we have a very, very engaged email list and our click throughs are off the charts so they tend to wanna nurture that audience.
Steph: The thing is that it's not growing as rapidly as we want it to, which is why I'm trying to shift the attention to social media. Maybe we should do YouTube ads. Maybe we should do more paid social media instead of just all organic. So it's kind of like trying to find that sweet spot of marketing, where you're bringing new voices, new talent, and younger people into the brand.
Charli: Yeah, totally. What do you use for working on those emails? Are you having to like code them and HTML yourself?
Steph: I am very, very fortunate. We share with the entire Panasonic North America, we have a dedicated Marketo designer. So I make the assets in Photoshop, I make the email in Photoshop, and then I send her all of the assets and she makes them into a beautiful email for me. So I don't need to know how to code an email. I used to try and I got frustrated with it. I do a little bit of coding on the side, but it's mostly for web, not for email.
Charli: Yeah, email coding is a whole 'nother story, so that's great that you don't have to deal with that. I love it. I feel like I'm already hearing so much of why strategy is in your job title. You've talked a lot about ideas you have not just for the visual design of how something will look, but actually what you're marketing and what you're doing, and I get a sense that you obviously play a bigger role in the marketing team than just being the designer. Is that something you brought to the team? Was it expected of you? Can you talk a little bit about where that strategy side of things came from?
Steph: I think it took a little while for them to trust my ideas, but I think that now I have full buy in from my team.
Charli: That's awesome.
Steph: But when you're new, everyone always wants to be like, it's always kind of like a break in process of how far can I push things?
Charli: How would you describe your responsibilities for your role?
Steph: I feel like my responsibilities are mostly around elevating the look and feel of the brand right now and bringing another lens to the conversation. And I have worked in a lot of different kinds of marketing departments, and that's the beauty of freelance is you kind of hang out for a little while, you see how the sausage is made in one working environment and then you move on to the next and you bring all of that experience with you to the next role. I think bringing all of those different perspectives, those different ideas, and being like, well, how can we, where can we offer maybe a student discount, where can we reach people who don't have any knowledge of our cameras who have no idea that they exist, it's really interesting 'cause we're always in the lineup of people, especially video, our cameras are always in the lineup, but they're never really at the top of the lineup the way Canon and Sony are. We have a lot of room to fight for that. There's nothing holding us back. Why not punch above our weight? And as a small company we can bring a lot of listening to the table and we can be listening to our audience and responding to them. We've been doing that a lot with our new Lumix live initiative on YouTube, where we have one of our tech reps every single week is been on YouTube just answering questions from the audience and asking what aren't they getting and what do they want? So it's really been interesting and eye opening to see what people love about our cameras 'cause they've challenged our preconceived notions of the brand.
Charli: I love that. And it sounds like you're really doing a good job of putting a face to the brand because when you have a brand as big and global as Panasonic and Lumix, putting the tech rep, right, now you've got a real person who's talking to you and answering your questions. I think that's great.
Steph: Yes. And Sean is the person who you'd normally see in a store for an event, so he would be, if there was a demo day, he'd be behind the Lumix table telling you everything you need to know about the camera. But sticking him in front of a camera and letting him talk to an audience that maybe would never consider walking into a brick and mortar store has been phenomenal.
Charli: Let's talk about a bit about your project workflow. So I'm already getting the sense that things are quite collaborative on your team. How does a project normally come to you? Sounds like you have a lot of ideas yourself. Do you ever get given an official brief as well to work from?
Steph: We are changing the system currently. So we had a system in place, we inherited it from another team, and it's just not super flexible. We needed something that was a little bit more agile because in order for them to write a brief, they had to usually submit information that they don't have, or they would just put "see me in the comments" instead of actually writing down what needed to be delivered. So we're in the process of changing that. It's probably gonna take a year to really fully consider what that is. Since my time is 100% Lumix and I'm not split between categories the way my coworker is, I don't have to worry about it so much because I don't need to be tracking via category for my boss to know whether or not someone's getting more hours out of our other designer. Every week we have a weekly sync where we go over all the open projects, everything that's been shifted to the back burner, what can we take off of the back burner, and it's just an Excel spreadsheet. And it's held by my marketing partner and she's basically the gatekeeper to me, and if anyone wants to get a project on my plate, they have to talk to her. And she's the one that prioritizes everything. She needs to know where, almost like a project manager needs to know, what the status is on everything. And since we work together so closely, if something changes, she just messages me and says, hey, I know that we said that this was due Tuesday, we're gonna shift this back to Thursday so that we can get this new thing that just came in that needs to be done now, which seems to be, most of my projects needs to be done now.
Charli: ASAP, yeah. Are the projects you work on very short turnaround times?
Steph: Sometimes. Yeah. So if I'm working on something like a landing page, that'll be kind of like the back burner throughout the whole. Right now, I'm working on an S series landing page that'll be on the back burner for months. It'll come off the back burner on the back burner. I had to do this with a flyer template recently where it's been on the back burner so long I just say, Emmy, clear my schedule or this week is so light, I just need to put my head down
Charli: Just need to get it done.
Steph: and get it done and get it off my plate because otherwise we're never gonna prioritize this. So it's just one of those things that's always kicking in the background. So I think the S series landing page is my next big baby. I've already started it, but I haven't touched it in probably over a month.
Steph: So that's gonna be a fun one because we wanna make it really, really, really classy looking.
Charli: Exciting. It sounds like then you have someone who can help you with the prioritization and the project management and be keeping on track of where everything's at, but then also you can speak up when there's a project that you wanna make a priority,
Charli: and you say, yeah, we can make this happen now. I wanna get this finished.
Steph: And if there's something, like International Women's Day came around and I feel like our audience, when I look into our Instagram statistics, it skews male, so one of the things I've really been trying to do is make the brand more appealing to women and more just visually less heavy, less dramatic. Our brand colors are red and black, which are extremely male colors.
Charli: And hard to work with as a designer, too.
Steph: Yes, and really bad for colorblindness. Accessibility is a big thing that I'm worried about. So I'm always trying to be like, well, how can we do this? How can we flip from dark backgrounds to light backgrounds? What does the brand look like in a light setting? And with our Instagram stories for International Women's Day, I had a really cool idea I wanted to do. And I just made a very, very, this is the Keynote animation I was talking about earlier, I mean, a very basic idea, like a loose idea, and I showed it to the head of the Lumix team and I said, can I do this? And he said, go for it. So I was like, I'm doing it, it's happening. So now we try to do this kind of like little, we did one for Mother's Day, we're gonna have one for Father's Day tomorrow, and we just have like all, we're doing those kinds of like extra polish things for kind of like holidays and events right now, but I'd like to do them more. We work with agencies sometimes, so I'm wondering if we can bring on social agency capacity in the future.
Steph: But right now it's me.
Charli: Right now, it's you.
Steph: I am the social agency.
Charli: You are the social agency handling that capacity. I love it. It sounds like you stay pretty in tuned with the data side of things, too. You're looking at the stats of the Instagram and things like that.
Steph: They should've never gave me access to that.
Charli: Does that also apply to landing pages, campaigns, things like that? Are you always looking at how they're performing in terms of the data?
Steph: We don't get as much analytics back from our landing pages. I could probably ask our web team for that, but right now I don't have any analytics for that. I want it.
Charli: How do you determine if a project is successful then, especially if you don't have access to those analytics. What else do you measure it by, and how do you know if you've done a good job, essentially?
Steph: Right now, our team is not very good at looking back, and I will say that as something we need to work on. We're not good at looking back and saying, how did this perform, and what can we do better to make this better. And I am trying to, especially since I've been here a year, I'm already seeing the cycles that go on seasonally. I'm noticing, it used to be around events, like for our big photo trade events. We send so much out into those events and then have no idea how well they were received or not.
Charli: What about as a team? So, for example, at ConvertKit as a company, we set our objectives and key results at like a company level, at a team level, and then also at an individual level. So these are like the things we need to achieve in the next quarter, for example. Do you have some sort of system that your team works on for that where there's quarterly goals or anything?
Steph: We have annual goals that we set as employees within the company, and I review it with my manager, but my goals are my goals and they're not tied to KPIs. If PCEC, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company, as a whole does well, I get a bonus annually, but my role is not as tied to KPIs as let's say the sales team is. So thankfully my goals are mostly about improving workflow, improving communications between team members, maybe adding new templates to the system so that we can turn around assets more quickly, things like that.
Charli: Do you have regular performance reviews and are these goals that you're setting coming in as part of the review that you do with the manager?
Steph: I can check in with my manager whenever I please and ask her how I'm doing. We have one-on-one conversations every once in a while, we had one recently, and I can tell her my frustrations at any point. We have a biweekly creative meeting on the calendar where all five of our lovely team sits down and we talk just to each other, 'cause sometimes we don't talk to each other, especially during COVID, talk about what we're working on and what are our blockers, what are we struggling with.
Charli: I'd love to dig in a little deeper onto some of the main challenges that you're facing at the moment, or areas of growth that you're trying to work into. You already mentioned wanting to learn After Effects, which I think is great, and it will fit in well to your Adobe Suite Workflow already. What are some other challenges that you're facing at the moment?
Steph: So one of the challenges that I face is primarily being able to manage my back burner and bringing things to the foreground, like I said earlier, and I think that I end up doing lot of production work. I really need to work on delegating. We have our contractor who is wonderful. He's fast, he's super efficient, and I need to give him more work to do sometimes. I tend to just kind of take it all on myself. I've been admonished a few times for being like, you're getting stuck in the weeds here. You gotta get out and ask for help sometimes. So I'm very bad at asking for help.
Charli: I think this is like solo designer syndrome 'cause I've had that problem, too. A while ago now, actually, we brought on a part-time freelance designer at ConvertKit, who I can give work to and create imagery, create documents, templates, whatever I need, and my first instinct is always to be like, oh, I could just do it myself, though, but then it's taking my time away from other things, right? Like for you, it's taking your time away from your back burner projects when you're working on that stuff that you should be handing off. So yeah, I get it completely.
Steph: And I'm very happy that he gets to work on all the Amazon stuff because it is not my favorite place to be. Amazon is such a beast with all the assets they require, especially for all of our different products, all of our different cameras, all of our lenses.
Charli: That sounds like a lot. Yeah, that sounds like way too much.
Steph: But trying to make my back burner log much less is definitely one of my growth areas for this year. Also I would really, really, really like to learn video, not just animation, but like video editing. I've had no real reason to in the past because I've mostly worked on still work, but I feel like, I just think that it's just a tool worth having. So if you have any recommendations after this, I'd love to hear them.
Charli: Deal, yes. I mean, I'm always gonna say that I think knowing how to do video is great and it'll tie in really well with your animation stuff you're already doing and wanting to learn more of, too. All right, let's end by talking about some of your favorite parts of your job. What do you love about what you do as a marketing designer?
Steph: Honestly, I love working with photography. I almost double majored as an art major in graphic design and photography and I used to go out and take pictures all the time. But I really like just that I get to look at gorgeous pictures all day. Pinch me, I'm dreaming.
Charli: I love that.
Steph: I have the best assets to work with when you're selling a camera, because our photographers take amazing, beautiful, gorgeous pictures and the consumers only see like 5% of them. We get to see all of them. So I have this website that I go to where the ambassadors can upload their work and I can just go in and I have these huge ginormous files to play with and make poster sized or flyer sized or whatever. So, yeah, that definitely brings me a lot of joy. And I also really, really love working with my marketing partner. She's fantastic. We've really gotten in the groove of just kind of like anticipating what each other really needs in the workday, especially like if I know that she's working on a report, I know that I can scale back and work on maybe something that'll make her happy later on.
Charli: Awe, that's sweet.
Steph: Give her like a quick win at the end of the day. So it's just fun. It's just fun work. Having someone that you can really click with on a day-to-day level is really great. And my colleague, my other designer, Johnny, is so nice, so great, and he's always super supportive whenever I need his help, which sometimes you just need to talk shit about Photoshop. Can I say that?
Charli: You can, you can swear on the show.
Steph: Sometimes you just need to talk shit about Photoshop with someone and rage about how you are getting the beach ball of death.
Charli: I understand that, like a fellow designer.
Steph: Yes. Yes.
Charli: Love it. Well, this has been fascinating for me, Steph. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Where can people follow you online and see more of your work? Is there anything you wanna give a shout out to?
Steph: I am a very private person online, so I tend not to shout out, but if you want to see more of what I'm doing with Lumix, definitely signup for our email list at shop.panasonic.com/lumix. You can also follow Lumix @lumixUSA on Instagram. That'd be great. You can follow me on Twitter. My handle is @stephyeah, but I'm very, very antisocial online. So if you wanna reach out to me, feel free. If you wanna talk design, DM me. But I'm a very lean back social media person.
Charli: Well, you know what, hearing that you're not online all that much and you're pretty private makes it even more special that you've come on the show. So thank you for sharing with us and for being here today.
Steph: Thank you. I've watched your videos for so long that it's just, it really is such a, it's awesome just to hang out and talk design.
Charli: Yeah, I've loved it too. Thank you so much, Steph.
Steph: Thanks, Charli.
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