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The New Era of Agile Imagery with Lindsay More Nisbett of The Line Studios

Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Full episode transcript

Daniel Jester:
From Creative Force, I'm Daniel Jester and this is The E-Commerce Content Creation Podcast.
Joining me on the show today is Lindsay More Nisbett, partner and brand director of The Line Studios in New York City. We discuss what we call the new era of agile imagery. Your products don't just live on PDP pages anymore and you need content that can serve many needs across channels.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
That imagery can serve the entire marketing team and digital assets. That imagery can go on to social channels if it's done in a well-planned, well-executed way that brings that brand to life.

Daniel Jester:
We discuss planning for agile content, leveraging user and influencer content and the impact on customer experience that thoughtful and agile imagery can have. Before we jump in, a quick reminder to subscribe to our show if you don't already, leave us a rating or write a review. At the end of this episode, I will tell you how you can get involved in the conversation and connect with Lindsay and The Line Studios to learn more about their speaker series highlighting emerging trends in e-commerce creative. Let's get into it.
This is The E-Commerce Content Creation Podcast. Joining me today on the show, Lindsay More Nisbett of The Line Studios in New York City. Lindsay, how are you?

Lindsay More Nisbett:
I'm very well. Thank you so much for having me on. I'm super excited about this.

Daniel Jester:
I'm really excited to have this conversation with you, talking about agile imagery. And, this word, agile, is something that has come up quite a bit on this podcast. We've heard it in webinars a lot recently. And, specifically, what we're talking about is really getting more out of your assets. Before we jump into our topic, you are founder and brand director of The Line Studios in New York City, which is a service provider business partner type studio for a lot of clients. But tell our listeners a little bit about you, your background. We'll get the context for the conversation all set up. Let's talk about how to make your assets more agile. 

Lindsay More Nisbett:
I started my career on the creative side. I was an art director at an ad agency back when there were, you know, million dollar budgets for a photo shoot. So, that was an amazing sort of start of a career for advertising world. And then, I moved in house to Bergdorf Goodman, worked very cyclical and seasonal. And then, I went to guilt.com, which really was when e-commerce was in its infancy, and I have to say that was a really pivotal point in my career as well as just the entire retail industry as a whole. And, at Guilt, when I started, there were about two photo studios, and when I left, there were... Don't quote me, but upwards of 40... Upwards of 40 studios that we were operating. And, we were shooting for thousands of brands and many of which had never really sold their products in the online space.

Daniel Jester:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Lindsay More Nisbett:
So, it was a really unique time. We had to, as a creative team, develop a lot of trust in those brand partnerships so that those brands felt confident that their product was well-represented online. And then, underneath that, you know, Guilt was a technology company, so building really scalable, really efficient processes around the creation of these e-commerce assets... That entire experience really led me to start The Line Studios where I could take that and apply it to what I noticed was a need for individual brands to have that kind of support.

Daniel Jester:
Product life cycles are shorter, asset needs are greater, and we need assets in so many different places because as technology progresses... And, you know, we all know this anecdotally, that the differences between generational shopping habits are stark and they only last for a few years now, whereas you had multiple generations who were used to walking into a Macy's and buying what they needed at Macy's. It seems like every generation now has dramatically different shopping habits from the previous one and companies need to be able to capture these demographics and show their creative where their shoppers are.

So, what we want to talk about today is this sort of new era of agile imagery, trying to think about ways that we can create assets, that we can build creative production process that allows us agility to flex into these different areas, to dip into a new social medium if we need to. We know that we need our assets to take us further, but we also have to create them more frequently than we used to.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
Yes. I think that's very true and I would say not only do we need to create them more frequently, they need to serve multiple purposes and they need to really ultimately differentiate your brand. Like you said, there's so much to unpack there. I think, starting with, you know, maybe even as early as five years ago, where a lot of brands' approach to their e-com, which still happens today... You know, their e-commerce imagery, the product listing page, the product detail pages, it was like, okay, very transactional. This is the place where the customer needs to understand the garment, so it's like front, back, detail, front, back, detail. You know, one after the other. And, that's what we've really noticed has evolved and now more than ever needs to really represent the brand itself and not be so simple and not be so transactional.
So, when we think of, you know, how do we partner best with our brands to understand their business goals and their brand values and bring that to life through the imagery that we're shooting and how that imagery is going to live. That imagery doesn't just live on the PDP anymore.

Daniel Jester:
Right.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
That imagery can serve the entire marketing team and digital assets. That imagery can go onto social channels if it's done in a well-planned, well-executed way that brings that brand to life. What we're seeing, which is really interesting in this evolution, is really thinking about that customer experience, because when they get to your site... You know, when you're thinking about traditional e-commerce imagery, they still do need to understand the details of your garment. But how you bring that to life now... You have so much freedom to really understand your customer. So, does your customer want to see that garment on not just a model? As amazing as models are, they don't always represent real body types. 

Daniel Jester:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Lindsay More Nisbett:
So, one of our clients, Hill House Home, for instance, their product detail page... Yes, we shoot the straightforward ghost mannequin image, which is super important for their Nap Dress. And then, yes, we shoot it on a model. We do casting, great models that do represent a variety of backgrounds and body types. But then, they also sprinkle in user-generated content, influencer content.

Daniel Jester:
Right.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
So that not only do you understand the Nap Dress, but you understand ways to wear it, inspiring you on this entire lifestyle that's being captured on their product detail page. And, you know, all those images then can serve purposes outside of just that last page conversion.

Daniel Jester:
I'm really glad that you brought up the user-generated content and the influencer content because I wonder what you think. What's your perspective on this trend? I don't really see user-generated content going anywhere, but it is important and you as brand director for The Line Studios probably have some thoughts on this. But it's important to protect your brand when you're engaging users to generate content for you. And then, I'm also curious what your thoughts are on what influencer marketing or influencer generated content might look like post-pandemic. Does it stick around to the degree that we saw? Does it evolve? Look into your crystal ball and kind of tell me what you think.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
Absolutely. So, I'll start with the user-generated. I think, you know, it really... Again, it kind of depends on your brand. I think it can be really useful. I know one of our clients, Negative Underwear, finds it really useful. They really want to be a brand that caters to all body types, and, you know, showcasing that is important to them. But on their actual site, it's important also... A professional photo still sort of carries a lot of weight to really understand what you're buying, to get the color, the texture. All of that kind of isn't going away, in my opinion, or being replaced with user-generated content. But the user-generated content does add that sort of really awesome component and also, from a brand perspective, builds a community.

Daniel Jester:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Lindsay More Nisbett:
And, people being able to share that, I think is really important, which kind of leads into the influencer aspect as well. I don't think that's really going away, either. I've seen brands use it in really interesting ways and feel very integrated when it's the right person for them. And again, kind of building that community around their brand, building those conversations around their brand, I think is super important as they grow, and I feel like... I won't say it's a trend, but D to C is so valuable and I think more and more brands are in that space. And so, building that community that understands your brand voice is so important because there is so much out there. And so, if you can find a group of influencers who really get your brand voice and can amplify it for you in their own way but still under that umbrella, it's super key.
And, from a creative perspective, it's important that as a brand, you are briefing them properly. You know? They need to understand your brand values and your brand aesthetic and what you're looking for. So, we can create really in-depth briefs in those cases so that they know what you're looking for so that you're not just kind of sending your stuff out and hoping that it comes back within your brand voice and vision.

Daniel Jester:
Let's make a note to have Lindsay back on the topic of effective strategies for influencer campaigns, because it's very, very interesting and it really is an interesting segment of the idea of agile imagery. You know, when we came into this conversation talking about agile imagery, more around the assets that you create and ways that you can use them, but one of the things to consider is that maybe you're not producing the content. That's a quite agile way to get what you need. The difficulty can be sometimes when we talk about trying to make assets and content and creative that's more agile, it really seems like it comes back to planning and really having a clear idea of what your marketing campaign is going to look like. And then, you need to be able to execute on that efficiently.
I guess this is going to be kind of an open-ended, difficult question for you, Lindsay, but I guess what is some of your advice to our listeners around how to build the right foundation for an effective and agile content strategy? How do we plan for it? How do we execute on it? Anything you got. I know it's very open-ended. I apologize for that. But let's roll into it.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
Yeah. From my perspective, what we've noticed is that the role of a content director or brand director is becoming more and more important for exactly this reason. What we've seen in the past is very segregated teams within a company, so... And, this is still probably the case in many companies. But the e-commerce team, for instance, is separate from the marketing team and the marketing team is separate from the PR team. And, that's great in terms of skill sets. Obviously, they're very different. But we've seen the budgets be completely siloed as well.

Daniel Jester:
Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Lindsay More Nisbett:
And, I think what's really evolved and should be evolving, if it's not already evolved, is the melding of those two worlds, the communication internally to really put all the budget behind the shoot planning so that when you go into an e-commerce shoot and you have your entire collection ahead of you right then and there... You know, the marketing team has weighed in on which pieces they want to feature. You know, the social team has weighed in on which pieces they want to amplify on the social channels. And, that way, during that however many shoot days you have to capture that collection, you have a very well-planned out shoot, and I think that is the core of what we talk about when we talk about agile assets.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
So, when we're shooting a dress, it's not just a front, back and detail. It is an editorialized shot that not only showcases every amazing aspect of that garment, but can live seamlessly and represents that brand throughout all its marketing channels. And then, throughout the day, you know, as long as it's well planned out in advance and your shot list is telling you, okay, these 10 pieces, we're going to do a quick TikTok video with the model, you know? So...

Daniel Jester:
Right.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
It can all happen really seamlessly as long as you have that communication and that planning up front internally from the brand side, and that's what we sort of help them to bring to life.

Daniel Jester:
You're jogging my memory on this around a webinar that The Line hosted that you guys talked about a shoot with M.M. LaFleur and how you planned to get some of these other things. And, I want to plant the seed now. I'd love for you to talk a little bit about that particular situation, but I want to also plant the seed for the follow-up, which is that it's occurring to me that social still feels, at a corporate level, sometimes like an afterthought. And, I think there's a lot of social media managers out there who would agree with me in that regard. And, it's actually not that often that you see your social team for a client on set when it's like... You made a great point. Everything you need is there. If BTS content is appropriate for your brand voice, your social team should be there covering that.
But anyways. I want to get to that after. I want to talk about M.M. LaFleur, want to talk about some of this. But I do want to talk about what you touched on that I'm very passionate about, is involving more of your teams in the content creation process.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
M.M. LaFleur, a couple of years ago, went through a brand refresh. So, they decided to refresh not only their imagery, but their website as well. But we helped them with the imagery portion. They did a lot internally. If you talk about your cross communication, from what I understand, their styling team, their marketing team, their buying team, they all really worked very tightly together to establish those looks that we were going to shoot on the e-commerce set. 
And then, approaching the e-commerce imagery, again, veering away from the very typical front, back, detail and really expressing their brand, the sort of casualization of their brand, the ways you can wear a suit. It doesn't have to be with a navy pump. It can be with a Converse, you know? Sort of inspiring their customer through styling, through motion, through interesting and diverse casting, through the energy coming through those photographs. 
And, they saw huge success with the relaunch of that. I think they saw an increase in add to cart of 65%. Granted, that was with a site refresh, but they did attribute 40% of that to the imagery directly.

Daniel Jester:
Wow.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
That type of data and knowledge of those assets working that well is where we love working in that space. We love to hear that. And then, that informs our next shoot.

Daniel Jester:
Right.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
And, you know, e-commerce... Like you said, we are working fast. It is very frequent. And so, you have the ability to learn, almost in real time, what your customers are digging and what's resonating and incorporating that and more of that into the next shoot.

Daniel Jester:
I love that and I love that you guys are partnering with your clients to get that feedback from them and to share that information and to help develop a strategy around that. Like I mentioned, social sometimes... And, a lot of times, still, I think feels a little bit like an afterthought, and it's sort of like the photo shoot is planned, it happens, and then the social team has access to the digital asset manager or they get the Dropbox link with a bunch of images and they're like, you decide what you want to do. Those teams need to be involved and they should probably be on set.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
What I can say is that social should never be an afterthought. And, I think part of the beauty of these agile assets... And, by that, meaning more editorialized, is that really, your social team can look at those after the shoot and have any one of them they want because it's not... Each one of those is so beautiful in its own right that can be posted on the social channels. But I think, similarly, to how we've always approached a shot list for an e-commerce shoot or a marketing shoot, the shot list for the social component can be paired with that e-commerce shoot. And, like you said, it's much more efficient when you have everything in one place to... Maybe there is a micro team, call it, who's in charge of the social shot list. And so, as long as your producer is aware and your team's aware and, like you said, usage, super important. You got to have all your ducks in a row. And, it's a very small incremental cost to sort of capture those assets along with your e-commerce photography.
And, not only that, but again, all those e-commerce assets, those four to five to six views you're capturing of that sweater can fit seamlessly into your social feed because it's shot within the brand's aesthetic and not just another old boring product on white image. Not that there aren't instances where product on white isn't needed, but I'm just saying.

Daniel Jester:
One of the things that I really appreciate about The Line Studios and the way that you guys operate as a business is how much you genuinely care about your clients and your business partnerships and that working with The Line is not transactional. Your clients aren't sending you product and you're turning around images and that's the end of it, you never communicate. You want to learn about your clients and you want to learn what their goals are. Tell us a little bit about that philosophy at The Line, how that impacts your relationships with your customers and how that impacts your customers' conversion rates. I mean, I assume that your customers are realizing better performance on their assets because of the nature of your relationship.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
We always aim to drive incremental lift through photography and video assets for our brand partners. That really starts with the initial conversations of understanding each and every one of their business goals, really, from each department, and creating processes and creative execution that supports those goals and then learning from the results of that. And so, that's a really big focus for us, is figuring out more and more ways to really measure that creative and give that back... You know, give that data back to our customers so that we can constantly be learning and improving those creative assets for them.

Daniel Jester:
As a data-driven company ourselves at Creative Force, we appreciate that about The Line Studios and we also appreciate The Line as a customer of Creative Force. To gush a little bit, Lindsay, I'm going to go ahead and do it. But you guys are great partners, not only for your own clients, but on the other side, on the B to B side as well, and we appreciate all of the feedback and the things that we've learned about how we can improve our product because of the way that you guys at The Line use it.
As we wrap up the conversation here, Lindsay, is there anything else that you want to mention? How can people...? Where can they find The Line Studios? Where can they find you if they want to get connected with you? This is your opportunity to plug your SoundCloud if you're into music or whatever. Take it away.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
Awesome. Well, I'll just spend a second gushing, too. We've had an amazing partnership and have really enjoyed partnering with you guys as well. It's an amazing software. We were in love with it from the minute we saw it because of just how pretty it is from a creative standpoint.

Daniel Jester:
It really is.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
Through that partnership, you also have sponsored our new speaker series, which we're super excited to continue to build upon, called Creative and Commerce Connections, where seeing all of what is happening right now in today's e-commerce driven retail environment, we really connect our creative community with our brands and really talk through all of these interesting and very fast-moving evolutions that everyone's seeing in the e-commerce space as it pertains to creative imagery.
You can find us at thelinestudios.nyc and on our Instagram, which is just at The Line Studios.

Daniel Jester:
Lindsay, thank you so much for your time and your expertise. I definitely want to have you back on the show to talk specifically about some of these other little things that we couldn't get too deep in the weeds on, but have some legs. So, as our podcast builds its foundation, we'll find ourselves probably getting more and more deeper into some of these topics and I can't wait to have you back to share some more of your expertise in that regard.

Lindsay More Nisbett:
That sounds great. I can't wait to come back. And, thank you so much for having me. It was really fun talking about this.

Daniel Jester:
It was my pleasure. 
That's it for this episode. Thank you to Lindsay for her time and insight. You can learn more about Lindsay, The Line Studios and their speaker series by heading over to thelinestudios.nyc. Also, check out our show notes for more helpful links and information regarding this episode. We want you, the listener, to be engaged in the conversation as we explore the creative production industry through this podcast. So, please connect with me on LinkedIn or send us an email to podcast@creativeforce.io to let us know your thoughts on this episode or ideas for future topics and future guests.
The show is produced by Creative Force, edited by Calvin Lanz Sound. Special thanks to Sean O'Meara and the Creative Force team. I'm your host, Daniel Jester. Until next week, friends. 

About the host

Chief evangelist at Creative Force

Daniel Jester is an experienced creative production professional who has managed production teams, built and launched new studios, and produced large-scale projects. He's currently the Chief Evangelist at Creative Force but has a breadth of experience in a variety of studio environments - working in-house at brands like Amazon, Nordstrom, and Farfetch as well as commercial studios like CONVYR. Creative-minded, while able to effectively plan for and manage a complex project, he bridges the gap between spreadsheets and creative talent.