Molly James-Lundak discusses how AbbVie delivers a consistent brand across their social channels

Senior Director of Brand and Social Marketing Molly James-Lundak oversees AbbVie's corporate branding as well as their corporate social media marketing — and along with her team, focuses on ensuring AbbVie delivers a consistent brand across all of their social media content.

The goals of their social content is to educate, inform, and inspire people to see AbbVie as a company to partner with, work for, and invest in.

There isn't one single thing that keeps our content consistent from a brand standpoint, it's the sum of a lot of different things. Molly James-Lundak
“It's a broad objective and purpose,” Molly said. “And we want to make sure we're using social content to always drive back to those goals.”

The content comes from many different areas of the organization, she said, including talent acquisition, HR, and their other culture teams, as well as their product teams, research and development, corporate responsibility, and investor information.

With content coming in from so many different areas of the large global organization, having an efficient content planning process in place is crucial.

To plan the specific content they put on their editorial calendar, they hold a cross-functional quarterly editorial planning meeting.

“There's usually about 40 people on the call,” she said. “We coordinate all of the different campaigns they have coming up that quarter and make sure there's a clear line of sight and balance in the content theme.”

For specific campaigns, Molly's team plays a role in reviewing all the content and uses it as an opportunity to ensure it's consistent with the AbbVie brand.

“We're getting that content from a variety of different places and agencies that develop it on behalf of those other teams,” she said. “Ultimately, we're responsible for publishing it all and making sure it reflects AbbVie in the right way.”

They also hold weekly meetings to evaluate the upcoming content and make sure the editorial calendar is cohesive.

Molly emphasized the importance of having a social media style guide that all their collaborators can use.

“There isn't one single thing that keeps our content consistent from a brand standpoint, it's the sum of a lot of different things,” Molly said. “That includes having clear brand guidelines and making sure those who are developing content are familiar with those guidelines. They're expected to develop content within that framework.”

The style guide is used by all the people we collaborate with and who have a hand in producing content. Molly James-Lundak
Like all brands, AbbVie has traditional brand guidelines that cover their logo use, color palette, typography, photography, and other elements of their visual identity, as well as their tone of voice. On top of that, Molly's team has a social style guide that works in tandem with those foundational brand guidelines.

“It's used by all the people we collaborate with and who have a hand in producing content,” she said. “It's also given to our affiliates who have their own channels in other countries.”

The style guide covers all the specific nuances and scenarios that come with publishing content on social media, Molly said.

“It includes things like where a logo sits on a graphic and how big it should be,” she explained. “It takes the elements of the brand guidelines and puts them in language and technical specifications so a designer can do it consistently every time.”

The style guide also covers things like social media photo style, and how that might differ from photos AbbVie would use for print assets, how they curate content and the types of content that are appropriate, and their animation and infographic styles. Molly explained it also includes detailed engagement and live event coverage guidelines.

The team also puts a focus on proper training — not just for employees, but for agencies as well.

Training comes in a variety of formats, Molly said. They hold training with agencies at the beginning of each year and do on-boarding for new agencies or teams that are working on social for the first time.

A few times a year we do a content workshop with the folks who create a lot of content. Molly James-Lundak
“A few times a year we do a content workshop with the folks who create a lot of content,” she said. “We do a lot of games. We play a game I call ‘Monday Morning Quarterback,' where we show the content that was published and talk about what we'd do differently.”

During these workshops, the team also does exercises showing samples of on-brand and off-brand posts.

And in June, the team launched a four-part webinar series called Social Media Masters. “It was four, 90-minute interactive webinars on the ins and outs of social media,” Molly said. “That included brand compliance as well.”

Molly also explained how they leverage digital tools to provide essential brand assets to other teams, agencies, and affiliates.

“We have an online site, AbbVie Brand Central, for all of our brand assets and guidelines,” she said. “And we have social graphic templates on that site that can be downloaded and customized. The site and materials are all accessible to our agencies and teams.”

They also leverage Khoros for social media management for all AbbVie branded social channels — including corporate and affiliates.

We have an online site, AbbVie Brand Central, for all of our brand assets and guidelines. Molly James-Lundak
“We have a robust content center which has pre-approved graphics available across a number of topics so our affiliates can easily pull the materials they need to stay on-brand,” said Molly.

Lastly, they use Asana to project manage campaigns and their editorial calendar. The platform doesn't house brand materials, but, she explained, it helps teams know what's in play and who they can reach out to for more information for approved assets.

Molly explained sometimes the team has to say “no” to certain content to protect the AbbVie brand.

She said there are times when it's easy to turn down content because it's clearly not on brand or suitable for the specifications of a certain channel. But that has been happening less and less because more people are aware of content requirements.

“Then there's the gray area where something may not feel right or we don't think it will be effective,” said Molly. “And in those situations, it's helpful to go back and look at similar content we've published before and show the data of why it wasn't engaging or it wasn't effective at reaching the goal.”

From a brand perspective, she said, it helps to show things side by side to display specific reasons a piece of content doesn't measure up to their visual standards. Molly also emphasized the importance of providing counsel to show another way forward. “There's a recognition that we have the knowledge and expertise because we live in this every day, so the counsel we provide won't be subjective,” she said.

And lastly, in particularly contentious cases, Molly's team offers to A/B test the different pieces of content and analyze the results.

Molly said it's difficult to isolate whether the shift toward becoming more deliberate about AbbVie's brand on social has had an impact on their organic engagement, but they have seen a much stronger performance from a paid perspective.

There's a recognition that we have the knowledge and expertise because we live in this every day, so the counsel we provide won't be subjective. Molly James-Lundak
“We're smarter about what is effective from an advertising standpoint from both a media planning and targeting perspective as well as from brand execution,” she said.

From an organic standpoint, Molly said it's much more difficult to draw correlations between the changes and the engagement levels — but when they look at their social feeds, it's clearer who AbbVie is and what they do.

“There's definitely a feel to the content we're putting out, and it's clear we're trying to position ourselves as a company investing in and innovating to address serious health challenges,” she said.

A key learning Molly has taken away from the process has been around understanding all the different components that go into producing a consistent brand across all social content.

“Initially, we just put out the brand guidelines and hoped everyone would just understand them, but it took a lot of different components to help people get there,” she said.

She also said it's important to continually report back on what's working and what isn't, so her team measures against KPIs and evaluates their highest and lowest performers.

“It's an ongoing process and you need to continually work at it,” said Molly. “But if you have the foundational components and resources and take the time to put those out there and train on them, it's much easier. When everyone is starting from a base level of understanding, it makes giving feedback easier as well.”

Molly James-Lundak has been a member of SocialMedia.org since 2014. You can follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.