You’re putting your brand at risk when you don’t use a centralized system to store and manage your digital assets. That risk comes from crashed hard drives, missing metadata, and the slow creep (or disastrously fast explosion) of inconsistent brand experiences. If you want to avoid unintended damage to your company’s lifeblood, it’s time to learn how to protect your brand with a digital asset management (DAM) system.
The customer experience happens across more teams, devices, and channels than ever before. You’ve got social media managers who use their smartphones and Instagram to provide a window into your company culture. Videographers produce dynamic stories for your website. Every day, your creative teams produce new branded materials that are published across the web and printed for in-person communications.
Where do you put all that content? What system do you use to publish it? How does everyone across your global organization find the right logo file to use? Without the tools and processes to centralize, review, manage, and publish all of these digital assets, you’re leaving your brand exposed to unnecessary risk. Thankfully, protecting your brand starts with a simple concept — store and manage your brand assets in a centralized location.
What options are available to protect your brand?
When it comes to storage, many people make multiple back-ups of their computer systems and storage devices. But if you’re not careful, multiple back-ups of multiple versions and file sizes can turn into loads of duplicate data. While your teams are working hard to keep up with the velocity and volume of marketing content, they will be increasingly slowed down by the confusing mess of their brand assets.
Accessibility, governance, and transparency are key to preventing inconsistent branding. A lack of clarity around which file is the final version, where it can be used, and for how long, can lead to confusion and even legal trouble. But your organization can avoid those risks.
“Your brand is everything. It’s your image. It’s exactly who you are and how you want to be seen by your market,” explains Trey Bailey, the Digital Asset Manager at Brooks Running.
That’s why brands use digital asset management (DAM) to improve how their assets are organized and accessed. Today, businesses are extending their DAM system upstream in the creative process to support more effective review and approval workflows. Downstream, brands use DAM systems to facilitate more dynamic asset sharing and distribution.
What are the benefits of using DAM for brand protection?
DAM tools help organizations improve efficiency, increase effectiveness, and gain greater control over the vast amounts of digital media and brand assets at every stage of the content lifecycle.
A DAM system helps protect your brand by:
- Creating a central source of truth for all digital media
- Providing safe and redundant storage across geographically separate data centers via a cloud-based system
- Allowing visibility into the global representation of your brand across mediums, product lines, and geographic regions
- Enforcing governance through roles and permissions to securely control access to assets
- Setting expiration dates to prevent teams from using outdated and irrelevant assets
- Enabling a distributed workforce to securely access files from anywhere via the internet
- Using asset-level and system-level analytics to monitor the use of your brand assets
- Making assets easy to find and manage with metadata
- Versioning assets to make sure your teams are always using the most up-to-date files
- Digitizing your brand guidelines and providing links to key assets like logos and imagery
- Integrating your content management tools to create a seamless workflow and harmonious digital ecosystem
- Creating a central source of truth for all digital media
We could talk for days about how a DAM system can help you manage and protect your brand. But let’s take a look at a common project that sounds like it should be simple, though it never is: What happens when you rebrand and need to update your logo in every location it’s ever been published?
Digital asset protection in action
Widen was founded in 1948. We’ve updated our brand assets and standards many times over the years. With each change, it’s important to make a smooth transition to the latest branding and enforce its use across the organization. With our DAM system, the Widen Collective®, we’re able to do this easily while maintaining an archive of old brand assets for historical references.
For example, our logo is a critical and prominent brand asset. Here are all the different styles of our current Widen logo:
- Widen Black Logo.ai
- Widen Black Outline Logo.ai
- Widen Icon Black.ai
- Widen Icon CMYK.ai
- Widen Icon RGB.ai
- Widen Outline Icon White CMWY.ai
- Widen Red Gray Logo CMYK Tagline Lockup.ai
- Widen Red Gray Logo CMYK.ai
- Widen Red Gray Logo RGB Tagline Lockup.ai
- Widen Red Gray Logo RGB.ai
- Widen Red White Logo CMYK Tagline Lockup.ai
- Widen Red White Logo CMYK.ai
- Widen Red White Logo RGB Tagline Lockup.ai
- Widen Red White Logo RGB.ai
- Widen White Logo.ai
- Widen White Outline Logo.ai
Each logo has a specific use and we needed to update all of them. Once updated files are uploaded to the DAM system, they’re displayed with descriptive metadata, like ‘for print use,’ so there’s no question which logo is for what. Versioning also helps us keep track of the latest asset, which is especially helpful for hard-to-detect changes like rounding the corners of the “W.”
The Collective also streamlines how we publish our logos across digital channels. When we upload a new version of a logo to our DAM system, it is dynamically updated everywhere it’s embedded by using embed codes.
We also use automatic file conversions to help us manage all 16 versions of our logo and provide access to different sizes and formats for each. One master file provides a marketer with a specific size PNG for an Instagram icon and a designer with another size for a presentation.
So, any time we decide to relaunch our brand we can make sure the change is consistent, inform everyone which logo file is for what use, and supply each of our teams with the file types that they need. This protects our brand at the foundation and we’re able to do it all using the Collective as our DAM system.
Protect your brand with the Widen Collective
Don’t leave your brand exposed to damage caused by crashed hard drives, lost memory cards, ineffective workflows, and inconsistent branding. If your brand is key to your business success, you need the right solution to protect and grow it.
Note: This article was originally posted in January 2010 and has been updated regularly to keep all content accurate and up-to-date.