In part 1 and part 2 of this series, we took a close look at how Life Fitness uses their digital asset management (DAM) system, Widen’s Media Collective, to manage all of their creative and global marketing operations.
In this final installment of the series, we’re serving up eight useful tips that Life Fitness and many of our clients regularly use to help them work smarter and make the most of their digital assets and their DAM system. Whether you currently make use of a DAM system or are in the process of choosing one for your organization, it’s a good idea to keep these tips close at hand for reference.
Tip 1: Make DAM your single source of truth
In other words, you’ll need to create a process that makes it clear to all team members that your DAM system is where they should go for all of the creative and brand assets used across your organization.
Whatever you have as a DAM system today, or lack thereof, start by getting in the habit of having one central place for everyone to collaborate, collect, curate, define and share your assets. This one task, creating a single source of truth, is more than half the battle in getting your digital assets, and your brand, organized. Once you do this, your organization can become more efficient and consistent across all channels of communication — locally and globally — as is the case with Life Fitness.
If you currently have multiple repositories, systems or partitioned-off servers, that’s OK. This is the case for many organizations. But if you truly want to unify your brand, step one is to admit you have a DAM problem and look for ways to unify, consolidate and integrate!
Tip 2: Assign a DAM admin early in the process
Bringing a DAM system administrator onto the team early on, before you implement a DAM system, is one of the best decisions you can make when implementing a DAM solution.
Why? Because nobody will use a tool unless it’s effective at doing what it’s supposed to, and your DAM admin is the one who’s going to be working hard to set up your solution in a way that’s customized to your team members needs. Beyond setup, the admin of the DAM site helps support day-to-day functionality, including ongoing training, tweaking of roles and permissions, creation of relevant metadata, uploading digital assets and much more.
If the term DAM admin is new to you, it might be a good idea to check out our blog post, What are the duties of a digital asset management administrator?, for further clarification.
Tip 3: Make it stick
Making your DAM system “contagious” is an excellent way to keep team members engaged, which of course means they’ll use it!
In order to do this, your DAM admin needs to talk to all of the teams that will be using your DAM system — from creatives, to marketing, to sales and IT. One of the cardinal rules any savvy DAM admin likes to follow is to never assume you know what an individual or a group wants from their DAM system. Opening the floor to discussion is the only way you’ll truly create a solution your team actually wants to use.
We like to say “get your dancers on the dance floor and see what kind of music they like.” Then encourage them — again and again — to use their customized DAM system so it sticks.
Once you create your DAM system based on your team’s needs, you’ll need to show them how to use it. You can do this with live meetings, home screen messages, brand asset expiration controls, informal discussions and other regular communications. Along the way, be sure to ask for feedback, which can identify trouble spots and also ensure that what your team asked for is in alignment with what they actually need.
The number one way to get adoption of something new is to stop going back to old habits or giving in. In other words, the next time someone asks you to email over a file, tell them politely, “It’s in the DAM system. Do you remember how to access it?”
Tip 4: Love thy metadata
The easier it is for users to find assets, the more they’re going to use the DAM system.
In a nutshell, metadata is data about data. It’s the information that defines, describes and protects your digital assets. Spending the necessary time upfront, and creating a system for how to add and capture metadata, will save you and your team an immense amount of time down the road — making it easy for users to find any asset and use your site more effectively.
Properly creating each asset’s metadata also eliminates the need to go back into hundreds, sometimes thousands, of assets to “fix” poorly constructed or incomplete metadata, which takes considerably more time than simply setting it up right in the first place. Remember, with well-defined metadata comes excellent search functionality within your DAM system.
Learn more about metadata by downloading our Metadata Quick Start whitepaper.
Tip 5: Use refined search
Controlled vocabulary metadata fields are at the heart of refined search, standardizing how one administers and searches for digital assets. Refined search is a core feature of any solid DAM system because it makes it easier to classify and find assets.
It’s a way to help those who have no idea what to search for be able to easily find exactly what they need. Using Life Fitness as an example, their refined search contains fields like “model age group,” “ethnicity” and “gender” for their lifestyle photos. Each of these terms or keywords help users narrow down what they’re looking for. This is referred to as grouping assets.
Controlled vocabulary metadata also helps you manage the content lifecycle of an asset as it goes from a work in progress, to live, to archived and so on.
Tip 6: Create collections within your DAM system
Curating and grouping assets into collections for campaigns, product launches and events helps make each of your teams more self sufficient.
Life Fitness launches products and offers new services to their customers frequently. They’ve found that global collections are the best way to offer up all of the tools they create in one neatly packaged spot. Once these collections are up, it’s as easy as one click to add, edit, grow and/or customize a collection to ensure it aligns with the Life Fitness brand on a global scale.
Tip 7: Use your DAM system to embed digital assets
What we’re talking about here goes beyond embedding content within your internal culture and workflows. What we’re recommending is that you literally embed assets and collections in other resources and systems your teams are using everyday. Life Fitness is proficient in doing this, which means that when they update an image in their DAM system, it automatically updates everywhere it’s been embedded. Examples of this include sharing the Life Fitness brand guides, as well as popular brand assets and other marketing materials that are translated into multiple languages and used worldwide.
Embedding digital assets has another perk that might not be as obvious: it’s a great way to collect a tremendously valuable amount of data that can help you better understand usage. When you follow through with linking, sharing and embedding for this purpose, it can help your organization make considerably more intelligent and insightful decisions going forward. This concept also holds true when you integrate your DAM system with other systems like project management, creative workflow and web content management tools, to name a few.
Tip 8: Know the importance of user governance within your DAM system
With the Widen Media Collective, Life Fitness has complete control over which user groups have access to what content, when they’re able to access it and how they’re able to interact with it.
User governance and collaboration have been instrumental to the success of the Life Fitness brands. Their organizational structure has changed, and will continue to change as they grow. With this constant change comes the need to realign assets and specific user needs.
This is accomplished by clearly defining each of their user groups, making alterations as necessary, to ensure that the roles and permissions allow each team member to get what they need without being bogged down in excessive searching and digging. This requires a game plan and assessment of how their digital assets are connected. The good news is that this investment of time creates a sustainable DAM system that allows an organization to function at it’s highest potential.
Well, there you have it. Eight incredibly important tips that anyone who uses a DAM system should follow.
Hungry for more info?
Check our our Resource Library for downloadable content, like our DAM Decision Toolkit, handy infographics and our whitepaper that shares 7 Tips for a Fast DAM Implementation.
You can also contact Widen anytime with questions or for more information about the Media Collective.