What is a brand? Let me illustrate with a brand I'm partial to: New Balance. I used to think of New Balance as the maker of all white, extra wide “Dad” shoes. Now, as the proud owner of a dozen different pairs, I think of New Balance as a hipster modern shoe that goes with my jeans and shorts. I can wear them to church or to walk five miles. I can wear them anywhere!
New Balance fits my new dad lifestyle. I feel that lifestyle when I check out their mobile app, open an email, see their sponsored posts on Instagram, and walk into the New Balance store and lace up a new pair of shoes.
New Balance understands me well enough to offer images of shoes I don’t even know I need – at a time when I’m not necessarily looking for new shoes – and I still want them!
The creative and marketing team at New Balance laced together an incredible string of technologies and workflows in order to create my experience. They have shaped what I feel about New Balance through a series of purposeful, memorable moments. Put simply, New Balance has mastered brand asset management.
Your brand is the sum of all moments.
Your audience may not remember each moment, but they will remember how the sum of those moments made them feel. You can’t control perceptions, but you can inspire them, and that’s what Widen strives to do as the keeper of your brand’s content. Content makes a moment and all the little moments make a brand.
Connecting the right content, with the right people, at the right time creates moments that stick. That’s where brand asset management proves its value.
What is the purpose of brand asset management?
- To protect your most valuable assets.
- To shape the moments and experiences that define the brand in people’s minds.
- To be deliberate about the content that shapes these moments.
Here’s the big picture of Widen’s brand asset management solution.
Widen supports the flow of content from creation to distribution and beyond. This post introduces a new model for brand asset management building on these four pillars:
- Structure - The right structure sets your teams up for creating more consistent brand experiences.
- Activation - Content activation enables different users to represent your brand consistently for different audiences.
- Connectivity - Connectivity across your digital experience stack helps shape the perceptions of your brand everywhere you can reach your customers.
- Monitoring - Insights completes the circle of life to understand how you should change your structure or plan for content creation and activation in the future.
Let’s dive deeper into the new model.
- Brand management starts with the right structure, which propagates the right moments.
Begin with brand guidelines. There are many ways you can share and use your brand guidelines. Brand portals have emerged as one of the most popular methods of centralizing and sharing brand guidelines alongside content. Brand portals offer a simple way to organize and share all of your most critical brand assets and elements including logos, colors, fonts, graphics, templates, and commonly used assets. Portals live in a digital asset management (DAM) system and are available as a popular add-on.
Personally, I like the American Society for Quality’s “Brand Express” portal. It offers a quick and simple way to get the most important assets used on a daily basis. When creators need a logo, color, font, or template on a moment’s notice, they can take the “express route.” They also link to their Brand Book PDF for everything else someone needs to know about the brand.
An automated creative workflow reinforces the structure. Its key functions include:
- Adobe CC connector to bring assets into the primary applications used by designers.
- Widen Workflow with new custom request forms, templated workflows, and advanced proofing tools to streamline creative review and approval.
- Integrations with popular project management tools like Workfront to create a single source of truth for your assets.
These functions enable your creators to spend more time creating and less time managing the busy work.
The last major component of structure is DAM’s foundation: content governance and metadata, especially for usage and rights management.
Governance and metadata increase your efficiency from upload to download. Upload profiles with default metadata and embedded metadata mapping can automate data entry upon upload, which saves a ton of time and improves accuracy. Segmenting metadata types based on “asset and user groups” helps to manage the unique qualities of each set of assets used for different purposes.
Metadata and rights management are crucial to brand asset management. It’s not only about pairing the right assets with the right moments, but protecting your assets from legal trouble. Here’s a rundown of some of the key features that will help.
On view of an asset, you can use:
- Watermarked previews to avoid right-click downloading.
- A metadata field for “permitted uses.”
- An asset group flag for “rights managed” (or something similar) to alert users.
- Attached rights and release forms to the asset details.
- You can ask users to select their intended use from a picklist of options.
- Accept the End User License Agreement to further protect yourselves.
- If it’s a sensitive asset, you can require order approval (as an asset group setting).
- The designated approver is to verify the intended use matches the permitted uses before the requester can download the asset.
- Mapping “permitted uses” as an XMP field will keep that metadata with the file.
I hope that helps keep you out of hot water! Getting the structure right means you can better activate and connect your content, the next step.
- Content distribution is best achieved by curating collections and creating portals tailored for your specific audience needs, with various launch campaigns, events, and programs.
A great Widen Portals example comes from Trunk Club, a Nordstrom company.
The Trunk Club Stylist toolkit provides all the resources needed to market and sell Trunk Club, including marketing campaign photos, clubhouse photos for their retail locations, stylist headshots, brand identification, logos, brand colors, and key contact info in a one-stop-shop.
“The most important thing is people are using the imagery we have approved and provided, upholding the integrity of our brand. Our various teams utilize the same assets in different ways to drive frequency and repetition, which allows us to become more recognizable and build on a style that is unique and owned by Trunk Club. Our stylists are the face of our brand and we can arm them with more tools and resources in a way that is super easy for them to become walking billboards for the Trunk Club brand.”
-Maureen Boyle, Senior Director, Creative Services and Events at Trunk Club
Using Portals for content activation, they’re able to inspire better moments.
“We’re creating surprise and delight moments! There’s always something new and our photography is really great! We want to be ready for what’s next to drive customer interest and interactions with our stylists. We’re reaching audiences on every marketing channel - email, social, paid media, events, blogs, etc. because there is not one way to have a Trunk Club experience and we need to meet our customers in their moment.”
-Caitlyn Fields, Project Coordinator, Creative Services and Events at Trunk Club
Widen Templates provides another way to activate your content while keeping your brand in check. This application gives non-technical, non-creative users simple tools to build custom materials.
Templates automate simple and redundant tasks that take creatives away from being creative, and empower salespeople and marketers to create personalized and localized communications. This includes ads, brochures, business cards, direct mailers, one-pagers, posters, signage, email banners, social tiles, proposals, and more.
Alight’s Collective use is centered around Templates. They have templates for a wide variety of localized media types including invites, email banners, social tiles, and sell sheets.
- Connecting content across your digital experience creates more immersive moments. Potentially, you and your customers interact in dozens of physical and digital channels.
DAM helps show your brand’s best side in each and every space.
Two major capabilities help.
First, using Widen’s share links and embed codes anywhere you can extend assets from your central source of truth. Widen’s asset links automatically optimize your images for each channel.
New Era is using embed codes for pro sports team logos in their website navigation: www.neweracap.com. This is a great use case for maintaining brand consistency with high repetition of assets across their website.
Milwaukee Tool is embedding educational and promotional videos across multiple tool retail websites. This is a great example of a COPE (create once, publish everywhere) strategy in action!
Pampered Chef is using embed codes on their blog, recipes, and e-commerce site to carry a common image style across their various touchpoints.
Embed codes can be manually copy-pasted or programmatically fed into other systems via our API.
Second, system integrations with popular digital experience platforms also support immersive moments. These include integrations with web content management, marketing automation, social media, and CRM platforms used in combination with DAM to reach more audiences.
For example, Zeiss Microscopy uses DAM as the bridge between their Marketo marketing system of record and SAP CRM, their sales system of record.
“Widen is the bridge between sales and marketing. It enables sales to give the right info to the right customers at the right time. It allows the marketing teams to provide the correct assets to promote to the right customers.”
-Chris Tynan, Digital Marketing Manager, EMEA-LATAM, Zeiss Microscopy
You don’t need to integrate every system. But, getting your teams to use the same set of assets will generate richer data analytics.
- Brand monitoring illuminates the moments you’ve inspired. That’s why Widen Insights can be a valuable brand monitoring tool. You can use analytics to improve your structure, activate more of the right content, and connect with more systems and audiences.
Top Widen Insights users ask questions like:
- How are people using our site?
- What's going in and what's going out?
- What and how are our assets being used?
Kerry has a Bird’s Eye View of all activity. This includes geolocation charts of shares and embed views so they can see market activity by region. They also have an easy-to-use view of the ‘intended use’ breakout, which shows how assets are used after they’re downloaded.
Additional charts for “How Users are Searching” and “Search Terms” provides insight on how to maintain their categories and metadata for quick, reliable searches.
Autodesk takes brand insights to a new level. They have separate charts showing downloads for their logos, brand videos, brand templates, and other specific brand assets. They look at it on a quarterly basis to justify budget asks and to determine what to continue creating, what to update, and what to stop doing.
When using Insights for your brand, keep it simple and focused on what matters most for your brand so you can draw more meaningful insights on a regular basis.
As your brand evolves, so too will the moments you create. Try something new with Widen’s brand asset management solution.