“I need a brand management solution!”

A common driver for companies looking for a Digital Asset Management system is a desire to better manage their branded content. They often come to us looking for brand management software to make it easier for their marketing teams to manage the assets they use in marketing campaigns, websites, social media strategies, and so on.

Brand Management Software is a Bandaid

Sometimes what they think they’re looking for – a simple brand asset management tool that’s a “single source of truth” that different teams can leverage – is all they need. But much more often, when we really dig into how they’re running their business and the pressures they’re under, we help them see that the problem they think they’ll solve with this solution is actually a symptom of a larger set of challenges - and solving it on its own is, at best, a temporary band-aid. In fact, we often work with enterprises that began with basic tools, and having realized their limitations, are now looking for better enterprise-class brand management solutions.

Before we get to that, let’s answer the basic question: what does a brand asset management system do, and why is it valuable?

Here are a few of the key features and benefits:

Features of a Brand Management Tool

  • Search brand assets by keyword
  • Download various renditions of those assets (different sizes or crop points, for example)
  • Request access
  • Check that assets have usage rights for a particular purpose

Benefits of a Brand Management Tool

  • One place where everyone can find finished, approved assets
  • Easy to download for use on websites, social posts, marketing collateral, sales and partner enablement
  • Reduce recreation of assets across multiple teams
  • Only authorized users have access to assets
  • Marketing can control which assets are available for use, removing or refreshing out of date assets and making new ones widely available quickly

That all sounds great! So what’s the problem?

To answer that, we have to zoom out and think about the challenges businesses are facing today and how the role of content is changing. Some of the key concerns our customers come to us with are:

  • We’re moving from marketing at the edge – channel, region, and product specific to a customer-centric, omnichannel model
  • We need to accelerate new product introduction to keep up with digital disruptors and fast-moving trends
  • We’re investing heavily in video. It’s expensive to make and hard to store.

In light of these massive strategy shifts, a narrowly-construed view of a brand asset management system just isn’t good enough. For example:

  • In a personalized, omnichannel context, content variation increases massively - even as production budgets don’t. This demands much more atomic content that can be deconstructed, recombined, reused (in part or whole), while ensuring usage rights are correctly observed. This is a big orchestration challenge that can’t scale at all if every channel, region, or product team is operating independently and trying to coordinate manually. Learn more about omnichannel merchandising best practices.
  • New product introduction is a company-wide set of interlocking processes and data. Product images for use in marketing campaigns may be the end state, but creative and collaborative business processes - from materials development to product design to sell-in to campaign development and photo studio management to marketing - aren’t disconnected. For example, if a marketing team briefs an agency for a new campaign, that agency often delivers the creative back without the context (job jackets, creative briefs, products, etc), only the requesting team will know what that content represents. No one else will be able to find or use it without asking that requesting team over and over. Learn more about the 6 opportunities for in-house agencies to excel
  • Video is different. Brand management systems designed for logos and images often crash and burn like LA rush hour traffic when trying to handle large video files at scale. Learn about the 7 best practices in enterprise video here.

So if a basic brand management tool isn’t enough, what to do? In this scenario I’d suggest following the advice of Supreme Allied Commander for the Allies in WWII, US President Dwight Eisenhower, who famously said,

Whenever I run into a problem I can’t solve, I always make it bigger. I can never solve it by trying to make it smaller, but if I make it big enough, I can begin to see the outlines of a solution.

Brand Management Best Practices to Think Big Picture

Treat content and data with equal importance.
Data is the connective tissue that holds your business together. Think about how every team works with every other team when they work manually. They ask each other questions like:

  • What was this made for?
  • Where can I use it?
  • Is it available in a different (size, format, length)?
  • Who’s in it?
  • What’s it about?

These are all data questions. And the data that matters to your photo studio is different than the data that matters to your campaign team, your product designers, and the web team. Each needs their own contextual data (metadata) to be represented, their own key systems (product information management, master data management, talent management, web content management, to name a few) to work hand in hand with your core content system on their own terms (with their own data models). So the content system needs to be flexible enough to integrate and sync data in a variety of forms and contexts.

Make sure you’re managing what’s important (hint: it’s probably not images).
Unless you’re in the content business, images and videos aren’t the core thing they are trying to manage. Instead, it’s products, campaigns, projects, customers, deals, stores, and so forth. Make sure you’re able to represent, track, process, and automate all the critical business objects that matter to you.

Think about how assets can be broken up and reassembled
To empower your creatives to reuse, rework, and automate content production at scale, think about how your systems can leverage individual components of compound assets, like the individual shots in a 360º product view, or the original Indesign file of a PDF brochure.

Consider relevant non-rich media
If you’re creating content for the web, social, and print, where are you storing text, HTML, and CSS in a way that can be recombined and reused within and across these different systems? Brand management is about much more than images and video.

Remember that assets are all often chained together in complex relationships
A great many assets are derivatives of others (e.g., a FB ad derived from a web banner), or are inputs to a compound asset (e.g., text, image, and logo combined into a brochure). Properly characterizing and maintaining these relationships is critical to avoid getting bogged down in updating the logo on 1,000 assets or scrambling to find every video that featured your celebrity influencer who just had a meltdown and became a liability.

Consider performance at scale
Look for systems that can handle massive growth of images, videos, documents. If you think content growth in the last ten years was hard to keep up with, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Clearly there are many considerations and specific requirements any company needs to look closely at as they evaluate offerings that enable them to create an ideal brand management environment.

Enterprises can avoid the band-aid approach with a modern, connected, and properly implemented platform for managing brand assets. This ensures that everyone who touches the creative asset pipeline can accelerate their work, reduce manual effort, and improve results for the business.

Nuxeo has worked with many large enterprises to solve this problem, and you can read about several of them here.