Digital asset management and your brand strategy: an interview with Ellen Maly

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An interview with Ellen Maly, Brand Manager at a major mid-market healthcare technology company

There’s no question that a brand needs a strategy to compete and stay strong. It needs a long-term plan that will help customers realize who an organization is and what it stands for in the marketplace. A brand strategy includes all of the thinking that enables an organization to provide long-term marketing support for the brand. So it’s key to understand an organization’s key audiences, their preferences and expectations from the brand. Because brand strategy ties directly back to business strategy, it’s essential to put systems in place that protect the brand and serve as mechanisms to achieve corporate goals. One tool being used more and more to do that is digital asset management (DAM) software.

I recently interviewed Ellen Maly, a Widen customer who’s been a brand leader at several Fortune 500 companies over the past two decades. We discussed the very important role that digital asset management plays when married to brand strategy and how DAM can be used to support brand strategy and drive the success of an organization.

What is the greatest advantage a brand strategy brings an organization?

It’s [brand strategy] imperative to be successful. Brand strategy helps to create relevance and differentiate your offerings, and it can bring a lot of energy to an organization. If you don’t have one you’re going to be flying by the seat of your pants.

A brand strategy can leverage your brand portfolio, bring clarity, and organize your offerings. It enables management to revitalize what they have in their current offerings and it can support the business strategy for growth. Where I am now, [major mid-market healthcare technology company] we grow by acquisition and it helps us look at our portfolio in a very strategic way and drive where we want that growth. From an identity standpoint, it provides discipline within an organization and helps customers really understand who you are and what you stand for. A cohesive brand strategy helps to build a stronger organization, especially when you bring companies and their employees together through acquisition.

There are many different kinds of brand models, a branded house versus a house of brands for example. It’s an important decision for any company to make. We have an over brand strategy — similar to Microsoft — with a source brand and product brands under it. The company, or parent brand, signifies the source of all the offerings. Then you move into the very specific product brands that meet individual customer or market needs. At Hewlett Packard we operated as a master brand and all products carried the “HP” as part of the product name — HP Photosmart, HP Software, etc. P&G, on the other hand, is a house of brands — many strong product brands promoted over the parent brand. Ultimately you need to choose the brand model that’s right for your business.

How would you describe the relationship between DAM software and brand strategy? And how does that marriage benefit an organization?

In this global economy, you almost can’t be without a digital asset management system. You have to work smartly and efficiently to build a strong brand - to put assets and resources in many hands quickly.

It’s a supportive relationship. DAM helps you manage your brand resources and assets, which makes them more valuable. People sometimes lack discipline, so DAM can really help you support your strategy by organizing assets and materials in a way that makes sense to marketing and communications teams. This also helps employees understand your brand structure more quickly and easily. There is also the time-saved and speed-to-market component. It helps make both aspects easier, faster and quantifiable. We’ve used the customization in Widen’s DAM software service to help with our acquisitions integration and marketing campaigns. If the business group has a new campaign coming up, we’ll set up a unique category in the DAM to drive people to the assets they need, at the moment they need them.

It’s very beneficial for internal communications, too, not just the revenue-generating operations. We have a lot of internal campaigns going on for employee education, engagement and philanthropy and we’ll make the resources available to all our global teams. When we have a new graphic, template or guidelines, we’ll make a special collection in the DAM system and notify all of the global teams about it.

Widen Media Collective Collection page

A Collection of assets in Widen Media Collective

What is the greatest return an organization receives from diligently using a DAM system?

“There are a couple of things.

  1. Cost savings – It can demonstrate savings through sharing of assets instead of reinventing them over and over. If you can show how it has impacted your speed to market — time saved by not having to search through disorganized hard drives or recreating assets — then that’s a win every time.
  2. Brand building – A DAM system helps drive brand consistency and discipline within the organization. People are educated to use the right type and quality of assets for their brand communications and global sharing is encouraged, particularly in our emerging markets. With Widen, the Collections sharing function is a great way to show our marketing teams what assets are available or suitable for any given project. Many of our contributors are using metadata effectively and tagging images clearly. Our DAM drives them to use the controlled vocabulary based on our brand architecture, which enhances their understanding of our brand system and aids in searching. If you don’t take the time and effort to develop policies and processes up front it will be like the Wild West, and then it will be much more difficult to rein them in.


Digital asset management has evolved rapidly over the years and is now moving from a tactical tool that houses images to something much greater. Businesses are recognizing its potential as a strategic driver to support the brand strategy and a sharing device to stay current and competitive in a global economy.

The marriage of DAM and brand strategy can help organizations realize tremendous benefits, such as:

  • Streamlining workflow processes
  • Saving resources and time
  • Re-using and re-purposing digital assets
  • Building brand consistency
  • Increasing speed to market

To learn more about brand strategy and digital asset management, visit Or, email Nina Brakel-Schutt at

Topics: Culture & Company, Product Updates, Marketing

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