Do I wait two weeks for a photograph request? Or do I use the same one I’ve already been using? That was a question many at the University of San Francisco (USF) faced.
When we interviewed Tressa Crozier and Candice Pinault Novak, you could feel the pride and importance behind the USF brand. Unfortunately, the cost of providing the assets that embodied the brand came at a cost of time and chaos.
The USF is not unlike any number of organizations, especially in higher education, that found themselves with a very old school (pun intended) way of organizing their digital assets. They had physical file cabinets in a back hallway housing analog photographs, some dating back to the early 1900s.
“There was about a TB external hard drive where all video was living. Not only was it one drive, it was something you had to find in the office because it would get put around on different people's desks. It was completely unorganized,” Candice says. “There was no tagging system. No metadata system. Complete chaos.”
With no way of tagging or searching, the chances of finding usable images in a short timeframe, without enlisting the help of multiple people, were slim to none. While this is not uncommon at universities and colleges, USF decided to buck the trend and enlist the help of Widen to get organized.
Widen’s industry-leading customer service was a big selling point to USF. Before launching the Widen Collective, Candice acknowledged the importance of having a partner to help set up their DAM system. “When we were building our 14 to 17 metadata types, we bounced those off our client manager. That kind of interaction I think is what makes our USF media library as savvy and cutting as it is, because it really is tailored to us.”
After implementing the Collective, turnaround times have reduced, customer service has increased, accessibility and searchability have increased. Candice outlined that it’s created a very versatile place where departmental communications teams can still customize content for their area, but also know that they are using brand-approved imagery and video.
USF also has an elaborate video workflow that the Collective powers. They use their DAM site to house finished and produced videos, shortened versions for social media, comp reels based on location or persona, and b-roll. This allows them to work more efficiently with external video production agencies. They know they’re giving approved footage to the agencies, allowing them to concentrate on editing rather than re-shooting footage that may already exist.
USF also notes that Widen is one of the rare DAM vendors with a dedicated UX team. Both Candice and Tressa have participated in UX research and feedback sessions, noting that it’s fun to see their feedback eventually being realized in future product releases. It keeps them “jazzed” about digital asset management.
Beyond just being a place to store photos, USF is now using the Collective for much more strategic marketing tactics. They have messaging concepts such as “Academic Excellence” and “Equipped to Succeed” that have corresponding spotlight searches right on the opening dashboard of their DAM system for everyone to be able to quickly access.
They’re also using Widen’s Portals app to deliver assets to all potential users that do not have an account. They no longer need to train new users if they’re only involved in a single project or photo shoot. Portals allow them to send a beautifully branded, customized web page with intro and instructional text and download access, which is all they really need.
The Collective allows USF to spread the awesome work the office of marketing communications is doing to everyone that is speaking on behalf of the university. There no longer needs to be a choice between efficiency and the brand.