Simpson Strong-Tie is one of the world's largest suppliers of structural building products. Their products include everything from fastening systems and structural connectors to software, and their Marketing department creates promotional material for all of them — both in print and online.
Producing and managing all of this imagery is an enormous job! Just ask Mark Hausler, who is one of their senior graphic designers. However, the recent addition of a digital asset management (DAM) platform with two powerful integrations — Adobe Creative Cloud and Hybris — has dramatically improved the speed and accuracy of their creative workflows.
He spoke about these DAM integrations at a recent Widen Workshop. This nine-minute video shares some highlights...and read on to learn all of the details!
Creating a central source of truth
Several years ago the Strong-Tie team identified a need for a DAM system, and after vetting a range of solutions they selected the Widen Collective® — which they fondly refer to as the Toolbox.
The system stores and organizes all of their product-related assets and marketing materials, and helps them share these files both internally and externally. This enhanced control over asset access and distribution has helped them streamline internal workflows and improve their brand consistency.
Adding the power of Adobe Creative Cloud
An integration with Adobe Creative Cloud, called the Adobe CC Connector, brought additional efficiencies to their creative process. It allows Mark and his team to edit a file from the Collective in inDesign, without downloading the file to their desktop.
This synching of files between the two systems allows designers to spend less time on file management, and more time creating!
Allowing Collective, Hybris, and Adobe to work together
Strong-Tie also integrated their Collective with Hybris, their product information management (PIM) platform. It houses all of the information about each product — including CAD drawings and technical documentation — and serves as the backbone for their website. Widen’s API allows this data from Hybris to flow to and from the Collective, and automate portions of their production workflow.
Mark explained that this information exchange is facilitated by asset metadata in the Collective. So for their website, the metadata tells Hybris what information to pull for each product and where to put it within the product gallery online. Each profile includes photographs, illustrations, videos, and installation instructions.
The key metadata fields include the keyword (which is the product ID), file type, and caption. When Hybris pulls the file via the API, this metadata tells it exactly where the file should go and how it should be displayed in the product gallery.
Further, the file that’s being pulled by Hybris is always the master file — from photoshop or illustrator. And through the use of the Adobe Cloud Connector, file conversions are made on the fly to create the file format required for the website. So if a jpg is needed, that’s created automatically from the single master file in the Collective.
Additionally, they use this automation strategy to streamline the production of some of their print publications, including the 340-page Connectors Catalog. The data in specific metadata fields tells Hybris what files to grab and where they need to go in the catalog, and along the way Adobe converts the file to the required format.
So at the end of the day, the same asset is used for both print pieces and the web. Not only does this ensures everyone is using the same file, but when an edit needs to be made to an illustration or caption — because products are constantly changing — it only needs to be made once. The time savings is tremendous!
Automating metadata creation
Mark also shared ways that he and his team are leveraging tools in the Collective to automate a portion of their metadata creation. It begins with a solid metadata taxonomy. “We also follow a strict naming convention for all new assets. It helps me figure out what product line it is, what image type, what it is without having to actually open the image,” Mark said.
When new assets are ingested into the DAM tool Mark’s team uses this naming convention system — along with upload profiles — to dynamically generate the majority of the metadata.
Mark shared, “This puts about 85% of the metadata tags as being pre-populated when you upload it with the right naming convention.”
And they are currently exploring how to dynamically update metadata in the Collectiva via the Hybris integration. “Through the API we are actually going to be able to write metadata to the Toolbox (Widen) from a PIM system that the engineers are going to use. So the engineers can edit it on their software, and then it’s automatically going to synch back and rewrite metadata in the DAM system.” This information exchange will facilitate and streamline collaboration between teams, and help ensure that everyone has access to the most current and accurate product information.
Strong-Tie’s integration of DAM and PIM technology has truly transformed how their Creative teams produce, organize, and distribute their product assets and information. It helps cross-functional teams collaborate, and do their best work! For more information on potential of the Widen Collective + PIM, contact us.