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Why I am Restructuring Toast

Toast was born 12 years ago, in 2000, from a desire to “make websites.” In 2004, following client requests, we broadened our offer to work in print and advertising. In 2009, we decided to add a convergence stream, integrating television producers to our clientele.

Today, we work as much with entertainment brands (youth series for example), content brands (documentaries, television mazines) as corporate brands.

In 2012, the daily reality of our clients and their brands continues to evolve and we need to adapt.

The number of platforms available and accessible grows every month with the arival of the latest shiny object. In the current context, a brand cannot rely on having a presence at the same pre-established places, it needs (and can) differentiate through its use of the available platforms.

Websites, social media, mobile, webseries, print publishing, television, email marketing, events, guerilla marketing, radio, video, podcasts, blogs, trade advertising, tablets… These platforms – and the ones I didn’t mention because these represent a symbolic sample of possibilities – must be considered when preparing a brand strategy.

There is not recipe. Each brand has its personnality. And each personnality has its story. And each story has its own content strategy that represents it best.

Since the beginning of all this, I’ve wanted to avoid Toast developing a “recipe”, a “product” or an industry specialization. Never would I want someone refering to Toast as “the guys who do pharma” or “the Drupal specialists.” Our range of action is much broader. We act at the platform level and are thus able to coordinate the development of the brand on all these platforms, ensuring cohesion and alignment.

We’re strong and we love our work when we have the opportunity to deploy a brand in multiple places while taking into account three important aspects:

1) Can (or must) the concept be cut into different platforms and if so, which platform is most appropriate for each piece of content?

2) Which tactics to use in order to trigger transitions by clients and fans from one platform to another?

3) How to market the platforms on which the brand is present?

Content marketing, storytelling, branding, name it what you want. For us, it boils down to doing our job. Make content useful and relevant. It can be the story of a product or a documentary series, our objective is to work with a subject and “tell it” where it will have the most impact.

This brings us to the subject of this post.

Not all client need a website or all projects a “PHP back-end.” In certain cases, a webseries available on YouTube does the work perfectly. In other cases, publishing a book is relevant. And for certain mandates, a campaign executed strictly on social media is the best tactic to apply.

This variety of solutions brought to light the fact that it wasn’t realistic anymore to keep an in-house development team. It was an extremely hard decision to make, one of the hardest I’ve made in my life. It’s the one that will allow Toast to offer its clients the best possible solutions, without veering towards proposals that ensure the profitability of an in-house team, dedicated to web programming.

Toast must give itself the means of its ambitions and this new structure will allow our clients to tap into our pool of the best creators, designers and resources. A team adapting to each mandate in order to offer the best to its projects, on all platforms.

Toast’s core now consists of producers. Producers that combine the most relevant expertise in content, technology and funding. Brand producers.

We continue to serve as much our corporate clientele (the “branding” stream) as the entertainment and content clientele (the “convergent and transmedia” stream). This doesn’t change. I strongly believe that principles of creation, development and extension of a brand apply to both streams and each can benefit from the work we do with the other. We actually not distinguish these streams anymore.

Toast has evolved a lot in the past twelve years and this new milestone takes into account not only the current context but also the one knocking at the door that is greatly changing the way brands will be managed in years to come.

Toast is a multiplatform production house.

/ Alexandre Gravel
Senior Partner

(photo via juanfernandopacheco)



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