Customers and prospects often ask us for best practice advice for their Digital Asset Management (DAM) implementations, so I thought I’d lay out some tips and pointers for the DAM community in a series of posts, based on work we’re doing with one of our consumer packaged goods customers.

The five best practices I’ll focus on include:

  • How to make content findable across silos
  • How to empower revenue growth
  • How to connect to systems, even when they don’t exist
  • The importance of staying flexible
  • Connecting DAM implementation to larger corporate initiatives

Introducing Pasta Buddy

In this first post, I’ll discuss the first best practice – making content findable across silos.

For transparency’s sake, I’ve changed names to protect the innocent and I’m calling this customer Pasta Buddy. Pasta Buddy is a $10 billion CPG company.

This CPG company’s DAM implementation is going live this month, and it’s part of a larger digital transformation initiative to become a more agile, productive, and flexible as a company. Pasta Buddy needs to rapidly scale up their efforts in ecommerce, which are relatively new and immature for this very long-established brand.

Search is Hard…Why?

So why is searching across silos such a devil of a problem? Let me tell you a story about a humble jar of tomato sauce, made by the brand Pasta Buddy. And specifically, let’s talk about the 16.9 oz jar.


The Pasta Buddy Chunky-Style brand manager, Mr. Delicioso Rosso, is responsible for managing the creative development of the brand and its overall performance. Like in most consumer packaged goods companies, brand managers at Pasta Buddy are the general managers of their brands.

When Rosso works with his agencies and the internal creative department, he focuses on capturing product shots like the one above, but also in-context lifestyle shots that help tell the brand story.


A Jar of Pasta Sauce by Any Other Name Would Not Taste as Sweet

Now, Pasta Buddy is a company with a long and rich history, but along with its lineage come many outdated legacy systems and processes. In particular, brand managers like Rosso focus largely on the domestic consumer market, while other divisions sell the same products to commercial food services and internationally.

The challenge is that the commercial food service division has different needs. To take Chunky-Style pasta sauce to their business customers, they need sales collateral: brochures, presentations, comparison charts on why Pasta Buddy makes the best sauce, and other content that Delicioso Rosso, as a B2C marketer, doesn’t worry himself about.

And then there’s the international division. When they’re selling a 16.9 oz jar of Chunky-Style sauce in Canada and Japan, they need to replace the nutrition label with local content and the sizing to 500g.

So even if Rosso stores production-ready packaging and lifestyle shots on the internal file share, and even if the food services and international teams knew that this digital content was there, it wouldn’t help them all that much. What they need access to aren’t just final images, but also the design files, so they can make appropriate modifications.

DAM Search for CPG

So how was Pasta Buddy managing this before DAM?

The Chain Letter of the Content Chase

If Mr. Aka, the international marketing manager for Japan, needed access to Pasta Buddy Chunky-Style, he would send brand manager Rosso an email on Monday. Rosso has a packed inbox, so he misses the email.

On Wednesday, Aka pings Rosso again.
The next morning, Rosso apologizes for the delay and lets Aka know he’s on the case.

Rosso emails Jonathan Adom, his agency’s Account Manager.

Jonathan emails Sujal Laal, the agency’s Creative Director, the next morning. Unfortunately she’s taking the day off, so she doesn’t see the email until Monday morning, when she passes the request on to the creative who did the work last time, Amal Ahmar.

Amal is on deadline, so she doesn’t see the email until Tuesday morning. She finds the file on her laptop and sends it back to Sujal, but gets a failed send reply from the agency’s email system because the file is too large. She puts it in her personal Dropbox instead and sends a link.

Sujal quickly passes it to Jonathan, who forwards it on to Delicioso the next morning.
Delicioso is on location at a TV ad shoot, so when he tries to open the large PSD file from the link, it doesn’t work. He gets back to his desk on Friday, checks that it’s the right content, and forwards it to Aka. Unfortunately it’s already Saturday in Japan.

Even worse, Aka was on deadline himself, so back on Monday, a week after his original email, he had given up on the request and sent an expedited request to his local agency to shoot the package in Japan.

Digital Content for CPG

Looks brutal, doesn’t it? At Pasta Buddy, manual processes were killing productivity, time to market, and the lack of visibility to content means it often gets recreated needlessly and expensively.

How Do I Know if Search is Broken in My Organization?

The next obvious questions you should be asking yourself is, “do I have this problem?” and “How would I know?”

To find out, I suggest tracking and measuring the following:

  • How many content requests are made each week?
  • How many emails brand managers received are related to content requests and responses?
  • How much time is required to fulfill a typical request?
  • How often has the same digital asset had to be re-shot multiple times?

Without a DAM solution in place, it may be difficult to measure these comprehensively, but even just asking around or doing a small scale investigation should highlight the key areas of concern.

Ok, Ok, I Believe You. Search is Broken. Help!

One option, if your system allows it, is to keep content silos as they are, but index all of them so the metadata transcends all of your systems and repositories, which allows folks to search and find content across silos.

This makes sense if some or all of the teams already have established processes that work really well that you don’t want to upset.

Digital Assets for CPG

Another option is to put all the content in the same DAM system, but preserve some flexibility for each division. For each group, establish which content they own and control access to (to change permissions, lifecycle states, expiration dates, archival/deletion/disposal, and so on).

At the same time, the DAM solution provides visibility to all the content to everyone, based on a common metadata model.

At Pasta Buddy, everyone already orients around product names. So it’s relatively easy to align on using that as the heart of the data model.

Digital Asset Management for CPG

In my next post, I’ll talk about how DAM can be an integral part of company revenue growth.