Danone unifies and scales house health food brands by extending long-loved content platform

Company Size

50,000

Year Founded

1919

Headquarters

Paris, France

50%

less time to develop a new website

120

markets supported

2

months to launch new brand website
Plan Type
Enterprise
Partners
AKQA
Share Case Study

Main Challenges

  • Launching new websites localized for multiple regions and languages was tedious

  • Content and components couldn’t be reused across brands

  • Content creation, iteration and publishing was dependent on developers

  • New websites were built from scratch which wasted resources

Solutions

  • Localization features facilitate translations and the creation of localized content

  • Content models and design systems unify branded assets

  • Marketers can create, edit and launch content or campaigns without developer assistance

  • Websites can be quickly built and adjusted using those that already exist as a base

Project Story

Health is a top priority for many individuals. For multi-brand food and beverage company Danone, it’s more than a priority, it’s pretty much their entire mission: to bring health through food to as many people as possible.

With its array of products sold internationally in 120 markets being supported by tens of thousands of global employees and the increasing expectation to be present on multiple digital channels, Danone had one task more difficult than supporting global health — centralizing its brands, assets and processes to stay competitive in a digital-first world. Danone also sought to modernize one of its brand websites, YoPRO.

With a clear vision for how to stay relevant, productive and support both scaling and globalization, Danone needed to create a plan of attack. It looked to AKQA, an Amsterdam-based ideas and innovation agency, for expert advice and implementation support. 

Extending in-house technology to centralize assets and processes

As part of a shift to a digital-centric marketing approach across the organization, Danone team members needed tools and processes to power fast campaign creation and launches that still spoke to the unique look and feel of each brand. Fast here meant adopting a solution that would allow content creators to achieve the above without developer support. 

Danone was already using Contentful as its content platform, and digital asset management system Adobe Experience Manager for its dairy brands. It was happy with these tools and didn’t want to move away from them. Rather, Danone decided to explore how to extend them to unify its brands and give teams across brands easy access to assets. AKQA was ready to help, entrusted with designing an intuitive user experience for content creators.

AKQA dug into the project utilizing a white-label approach. It created a library of content types, content models and a central design system that anyone on Danone’s brand teams could use to quickly build and adjust new sites. These pre-made models would give teams within each Danone brand flexibility with content creation and styling. This framework eliminates the need to design entirely new portals for each brand, saving resources and time. 

Incorporating customizations to spark positive user experiences 

Danone’s content creators now enjoy the freedom and flexibility to work with a range of pre-built templates or build new pages that draw from Contentful modules. The process is easy, thanks to the care AKQA gave to configuring customization settings. 

Team members from different brands can customize fonts, color palettes and more. When these elements are updated, they populate across every module within that brand, promoting consistency that provides clarity to internal team members and consumers alike. “Contentful offers flexibility while still keeping things aligned within individual brands,” says Marcos Mellado, tech lead at AKQA. 

Contentful offers more than balance, though. It has many globalization features that support brands catering to or moving into new markets. Contentful’s locale configuration allows Danone teams to create brand sites in multiple languages, using the same content models available across all the company’s brands.

Leaning on flexibility and reusability to build YoPRO’s site with speed

Once AKQA got the brand portals set up, they had one more project to complete before they could say goodbye to Danone — recreating YoPRO’s site from another, much-loved, Danone branded site.

The unified platform project started with AKQA building an integration between Adobe’s asset management system and Contentful’s content platform. The next step was proofing the concept of reusability by using the codebase and design system used for Activia’s website — one of Danone’s yogurt brands, built on Contentful — to build a new site for YoPRO, a new line of healthy snacks to fuel active, healthy lifestyles.

“We chose to duplicate and revamp, rather than build the YoPRO site from scratch,” says Melanie Gorka, experience design director at AKQA. “In sticking to our atomic design and user experience principles, we worked fast and with efficiency.” The YoPRO site was completed in two months — that’s half the time AKQA took to build the Activia website. 

“Our experience with the Activia site helped us better account for localization and optimization concerning design codes and content models,” says Melanie. “We wanted to make sure there was flexibility for content creators across different markets and locales.” 

Creating separate but similar sites to enhance reliability and security

Contentful’s reusable content models and modules not only made it faster to build the YoPRO site but also meant the team could build YoPRO as a fully independent entity that was technologically separate from the Activia site. “Changes made in one brand site or locale will have no impact on any other site,” says Marcos. “If a bug is introduced in one brand’s site, it won’t regress into another brand site.”

The white-label approach also makes maintenance, updates and bug fixes much more efficient. “If we find an issue with one of the modules that we created, fixing it for one brand automatically means that it gets fixed for every single Danone brand,” says Marcos. “Easier maintenance means Danone can grow its web presence sustainably.” 

Integrating modern web tools with an API-first approach

The secret to AKQA’s speed in building Danon’s brand portals and new YoPRO site was Contentful’s API-first nature, which supports easy integration with most modern tools. For example, AKQA’s team uses static website generator Gatsby to focus on performance and SEO. With the app readily available in Contentful’s app marketplace, there was little work needed to get up and running. This aspect of Contentful is something many recognize and appreciate, including AKQA and Danone. “Contentful lets us build something very quickly — plus it has a lot of the best tools already built-in,” says Marcos. 

“All three tools that we’re using — Netlify, Gatsby and Contentful — play nicely together,” elaborates Marcos. “We rely on webhooks; whenever a content creator makes an update, that automatically triggers a build in Netlify. It’s a continuous deployment system for content.”

While that part of the process might sound quite complex, AKQA and Contentful have had no problem getting team members up to speed with the software. “The team at Contentful has done an amazing job at making the tools provided to external developers be as simple and streamlined as possible, and they're very well documented,” says . 

With scalable technology that's easy to learn, Danone’s brand portal and new process for creating websites are ready to support the company no matter how many brands it adds.

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