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How FreshDirect Built a Successful Marketing and Photography Workflow Over 20 Years

Digest a lifetime of learning lessons in this webinar with FreshDirect's Senior Brand Photography Manager, John Kelly III as he unpacks the history...

Transforming a brand over the course of two decades is a major undertaking. Growing a customer base and keeping the brand story consistent while updating the creative processes at play is a feat to be celebrated.

FreshDirect is a shining example of a brand that has tackled this challenge with grace. We’ve partnered with their team a few times over the years. Their visual storytelling strategy is one we admire, and time and time again, we love hearing about their workflow. This year, however, brings us to a special moment for the team at FreshDirect. They’re celebrating their 20th year in business!

In honor of this special occasion, we sat down with Vice President of Brand Marketing, Katie Zapata, and Senior Managing Photography, John J. Kelly III, to learn a bit about the history of the brand, how their roles have transformed their visual storytelling strategy, and how their marketing and photography workflows come to life.

Related Content: Why FreshDirect Invests in Organic Lifestyle Imagery

An Inside Look at FreshDirect’s Marketing and Photography Workflow:

Using a few different siloed processes, Katie and her team used to work through a number of bottlenecks to get their content out to market. This whacky workflow seen above is what she refers to as their “Spaghetti Mess.”

“Basically, every team channel developed their own process and they all were independent of each other, different tools,” Katie told us. “They didn’t speak to each other. There was a lack of transparency. If a plan changed, you had to go communicate it to 10 different places to tell everybody.”

Now, weekly planning meetings and a more centralized and communicative process works wonders for their team. Airtable plays a major role in FreshDirect’s project management and other tools make communicating and sharing a lot easier.

“I’m a workflow nerd. So I’m really proud of what we’ve built here.”

Katie Zapata

As the FreshDirect team began streamlining their creative process, they needed a centralized hub to help complete their content journey. That’s where PhotoShelter steps in!

In John’s photography workflow diagram below, you can see an array of steps including: requests, production, editing in post-production, and more leading to the final delivery of photos before stakeholders are notified.

PhotoShelter houses many large image files and is used to share assets with the marketing team and editorial partners, so it’s a centralized hub for the entire organization—including when they’re ready to share branded assets with partners and sponsors.

Watch John and Katie’s presentation to get a detailed walkthrough of these workflow slides.

Related Content: Learn more about PhotoShelter’s sharing and delivery tools.

“Once we get to post-production, that’s where our process splits a little bit, depending upon the type of photography we’re doing,” John said.

“For product photography, I basically don’t do any editing in Capture One. I just output those to full-resolution TIFFs, which then go into Photoshop for basic cosmetic retouching….

For editorial photography, we’ll go back slightly after the production process. For the most part, these don’t require a lot of retouching. In that case, I’ll do some basic levels and dynamic range adjustments in Capture One, and then output those to full-res TIFFs. I’ll then upload those files to a PhotoShelter gallery that usually has a name that can be cross-referenced with the original request that was on Airtable or whatever source it came from.

Then I’ll add qualitative metadata tags to those images in PhotoShelter so that they can be searched after the fact. I’ll then add a link to the PhotoShelter gallery to the corresponding Airtable request record. Then, using automation within Airtable, it will then notify all of the requesters or original project collaborators that the images are now available for viewing and download in PhotoShelter.”

Takeaway Advice from The FreshDirect Creative Marketing Team

The live-webinar audience asked our guests to share their best advice for aspiring marketers and photographers.

Here’s what Katie and John had to say:

  1. Group communication is so important. The more open and vulnerable you can be, the quicker and more efficiently the work will get done. Listening and being transparent with your coworkers and partners can go a long way.
  2. Consistency is key. Reminding people who you are and what you do is more important than you might think. Internally, a photo or tagline you use might seem stale. But to the audiences on social media and elsewhere, repetition is necessary.
  3. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. As important as it is to nail your marketing and branding efforts on one single channel, the combined power of multiple channels working together to grow your brand awareness will make a huge difference.
  4. Step outside of your comfort zone. If you don’t feel as though you have a great grasp on something, that’s your opportunity to lean into the challenge, learn and grow. 
  5. Be nice!

Watch the full on-demand webinar to peer deeper into FreshDirect’s marketing operations, and to hear more inspiring insights from the Q&A with John and Katie!

Want to map out your own workflow?

Access our Workflow Generator below and piece together the steps that make up your team’s creative process. Share with us on social (@psforbrands) and activate your inner workflow nerd!

Ready to transform your team’s creative workflow?