An ambitious publishing ecosystem for Softbank Vision Fund

Capturing the attention of an exclusive audience for the world's largest technology fund


My team at Message Lab built an ambitious publishing ecosystem for Softbank Vision Fund. This digital experience (which we named Sōzō – Japanese for “imagine” or “create") includes a publishing hub, a newsletter, a robust data visualization interactive, multimedia features, and new article formats. The conception and design of this site was a highly collaborative process between Message Lab's design and editorial teams and the client.


content marketing awards
2023 Content Marketing Awards:
  • Best content-driven website
  • Visual Storytelling – Best Feature

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A winning pitch

When Message Lab conceived of this content program, the design team illustrated it with an interactive map of live prototypes. We imagined the publishing homepage as the primary intersection of user journeys that led into features, articles, data analyses, and newsletters. We presented these prototypes to the client and won a greenlight for the entire project. The version seen online today is quite close in structure to our original vision.


Wireframing the experience

We drafted wireframes of the entire experience, including the ambitious Sōzō Pulse data tracker. The data tracker was designed to be a campaignable asset that could generate backlinks that help search rankings, generate earned media, and form the basis for data stories. Visitors to Sōzō Pulse also averaged close to 7 pages per session — an astonishingly high number that excludes interactions with the tracker itself.

User flows & connective tissue

When planning the ecosystem structure, we gave careful consideration to user flows as well as content strategy. The publishing ecosystem was strategically conceived to retain users by guiding them through it: the newsletter sends users to the Sozo hub, which includes CTAs to the data experience, and so forth. Our quarterly survey generated the data that fueled the data visualization experience as well as data analysis stories that dug deeper. All of our content was disseminated through the newsletter and strategically atomized to draw engagement on LinkedIn.

user flow

Building a brand

The Sōzō brand was conceived in a series of Miro moodboards. Using examples from the wild, we proposed multiple conceptual directions to the client before proceeding to identity design drafts. We ultimately discovered a 'pixelated' grid motif that formed visual connective tissue between all of our deliverables.

Photograph, Product, Black, Font, Yellow, Line

Multimedia feature stories

Message Lab's content strategy included 14 premium pieces, which included interactive profile features with video and scrolling animations – like our LTK feature. These features dig deep into how founders have solved a range of hyper-growth challenges. We developed them as high-fidelity prototypes in the low-code tool Vev, which were used as a handoff to a developer partner agency.

The results

The program has been a ringing success, boosting the SoftBank Vision Fund’s overall web traffic by more than a third. Sōzō content has averaged more than 90 seconds of engaged time: well above the 35 second average for North American publishers. The content program won big at the 2023 Content Marketing Awards, including Best Interactive Feature.

Sozo Logo
content marketing awards
Winner at 2023 Content Marketing Awards:
  • Best content-driven website (Softbank Sōzō)
  • Visual storytelling – Best feature

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Publishing ecosystem for Softbank Vision Fund

Capturing the attention of an exclusive audience for the world's largest technology fund

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An interactive portfolio

We developed an interactive portfolio with expandable cards for dozens of SIF investments. This fully custom component took inspiration from V.C. websites while maintaining similar styles to the Kit of Parts.