Are you a studio or a factory?  A movie studio is focused on story, narrative and answering questions like; does the story work? Are the characters engaging?  Does the film deliver the overall experience and “feel” the Director has in his or her mind?  The underlying driver, and priority is around story.  Transformer movies excepted.

Factories are about efficiency.  Producing the best quality widget possible with the most effective use of available resources.  Factories are maximizing their people, materials, transportation.

Within the mass of content about content, these two themes emerge pretty clearly, although never called out in such a way.  There’s an enormous amount of energy directed at the mechanics of content, producing it, distributing it, measuring it.  The story/studio theme is out there as well.  It’s easy to find plenty of material around “intelligent content”, buyer personas and data-driven, personalized messaging.  It’s not a binary, either/or decision or even one that most organizations are aware they are making, but interestingly we see an obvious bent one way or the other with many clients.

The reality is that in the studio, factory or content world too much focus in either direction is not effective over the long haul.  Even the storytelling masters at Pixar have had to rethink and retool their approach to meet the economic realities of their industry.  (Ed Catmull details this whole story in his book Creativity, Inc.).  In the manufacturing world, design has been dramatically elevated as an innate part of a product “story” that’s easily as important, if not more important, than improving efficiency.

The “corporations becoming publishers” idea does a nice job of capturing the essence of a place that feels somewhere between the two extremes.  Good publishers have an editorial vision, an innate sense of tone, style and narrative that fits their organization and their audience.  Some are better at this than others, but done well, publishers have strong sensibilities around these things.

Studios don’t love a riveting movie that’s way over budget.  Movies that are efficiently made without core story may reflect badly on the studio, yes Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2 I’m talking about you.  Take a moment to think about how your organization is approaching content marketing and your place on the studio/factory continuum.