In the second installment of our four-part 2018 Best DAM Contest series, we meet Caroline Gardner, formerly of New Balance.
Her approach to digital asset management (DAM) and the Best DAM Contest is hard work and continued optimization, not striving for perfection. Learn more about Caroline and her DAM story.
About the admin
Caroline Gardner has worked in digital asset management for over five years, and most recently as the sole administrator of New Balance’s DAM system.
Her favorite part of being a DAM admin is metadata. “I love getting to talk about metadata every day,” she said. This makes sense, she’s a librarian. But metadata is also the source of her biggest challenge...specifically, getting users to enter it. So for better or worse, she really does get to talk about metadata all the time.
She has enjoyed numerous successes in the last year, including surpassing her goal of 3,000 users. She said that employees from almost every department use their DAM system...marketing, sales, operations, ecommerce, product managers, social media, catalog teams, freelancers, distributors, agencies, wholesalers, distributors...you name it!
Another recent achievement was around training. She shared that at a session at the EMEA New Balance Summit, an attendee asked how to set up a portal. From across the room, another attendee said, “I know how to do it, I will show you in 5 minutes.” It made her so proud to know that her users have the resources they need to feel empowered and help others. And a bonus is that if her users can self-serve, she has more time to spend maintaining and improving the DAM.
Plans for future DAM growth at New Balance includes an integration with the product information management (PIM) system. And Caroline will continue to refine DAM workflows and roles by creating a process map (start to finish) detailing how teams across the marketing department handle assets.
Best DAM presentation
Caroline created the themes for her presentation with the support of the Widen team. Together, they identified topics that were the essence of New Balance’s successes, including:
Portals: New Balance has a staggering large number of portals in their DAM...1,445 to be exact! A portal is built and curated for every campaign story, with all of the relevant and approved content. Caroline admits that some are not perfect, but that’s OK! They give teams everything they need in one spot, and serve as a launchpad to other content.
Establishing trust: Caroline wants all of her users to trust that the DAM is a consistent and reliable source of truth. Approaching her admin role with an ethos of service has been essential in building this trust. By making herself available for questions or feedback, continually enhancing the user experience, and enlisting DAM cheerleaders to help evangelize the system’s benefits, she has fostered users’ trust in their DAM.
Flexibility: The success of the New Balance’s DAM is also due in part to Caroline’s ongoing commitment to adapting and staying positive. Change for any organization can be hard, so she continually implements user feedback, provides as much training as she can, and tries to meet each user where they are comfortable. She said, “you can’t just implement and leave it...if you insist that people do new things in the old way then you’ll have resistance and frustration. So if you can adapt the system to work for everyone then you will get some positivity. Processes need to be updated and changed because teams and people evolve.”
Across these themes was the message that DAM tools are a living and breathing system, and that admins are not infallible. Everyone has to learn as they go, but through collaboration and knowledge sharing, great outcomes can be achieved.
Advice for potential Best DAM Contest participants
Caroline didn’t initially see herself as a Best DAM Contest candidate. “I originally didn’t apply for Best DAM because I thought I had to be perfect.” But when Widen approached her about participating — and explained that no DAM site is perfect — she said yes.
And so her advice to future contestants is that you don’t have to have an impeccable DAM to participate. After all, perfect only exists in “social media versions” of a story, not the real one.
She estimated that she spent roughly six to eight hours over the course of three months creating her presentation, and some additional time rehearsing. Her goal was to celebrate the things she was doing well. “Even though there are issues with metadata, lots of people are still using it. And even though there are thousands of portals to manage, they’re what make it possible to get all of the content out there to the right people.” Although there are parts of the New Balance DAM system that are a work in progress, her presentation did an outstanding job of showcasing what was working well. And those examples now serve as best practices for her professional community.
Learn more about Caroline and New Balance’s DAM journey
[Webinar] Widen Collective Community Spotlight featuring New Balance
[Blog] A Four-Month DAM Implementation
[Podcast] Buyers Interview with Michael Shattuck, Widen (formerly at New Balance)
[Podcast] Implementation Interview with Michael Shattuck, Widen (formerly at New Balance)