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Beam Suntory Activates Their Brand History With Widen

Beam Suntory was created in 2014 when the world leader in bourbon combined with the pioneer in Japanese whisky to form a new company with a deep heritage. With Widen as the central repository for their archival and brand content, they are able to leverage these assets in shaping their customer experience. 

Products used

Assets-digital-content-lifecycle-management Assets

Catalog, control, and distribute rich media assets from a central source of truth

Insights Insights

Track and measure assets and build site performance dashboards

Portals Icon Portals

Share curated subsets of assets with control and flexibility

6.5K+

Total users

201K+

Asset downloads
in the last 12 months

120K+

Total assets

Challenges

Beam Suntory includes many of the most well-known brands in the beverage industry, from Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark bourbon to Yamazaki Japanese whisky. With over three hundred and fifty years of combined history, their brand identity draws on their unique past. 

“Jim Beam was started back in 1795, and Suntory started in 1899,” shared Tony Maguire, Product and Program Manager at Beam Suntory. “And my team is focused on keeping all of that heritage and legacy alive and well.” They manage an abundance of historical artifacts — everything from 100-year old Beam family photographs to advertisements written by Mark Twain — and ensure these assets are available for use across marketing materials and campaigns. 

In addition, this historical content supports their brand education program, which empowers internal teams and external partners to effectively represent the Beam Suntory brand. This training is especially valuable for their distributors, whom they rely on to sell Beam Suntory products.

But without a centralized and searchable repository for their archival content, it was difficult to bring these cultural artifacts into their current brand narrative. “We had warehouses full of historical artifacts,” said Tony. “Not only did we not know what was stored there, but there was no way to access it.”

So in 2017 they invested in Widen’s digital asset management (DAM) solution.

Objectives

Integrated martech stack
Sync data to the tools their distributors and partners use the most

Secured an searchable archival content
Catalog artifacts from the past for use in current marketing programs

Brand unity
Ensure all content creators are using current and approved assets

Solution

Organize content in one system
Shortly after implementing Widen they named the system the DAL, short for digital asset library. It quickly became the central source of truth not only for historical assets but also marketing and product content. 

Today, the system stores over 120,427 assets across hundreds of brands and sub-brands. And it’s used by a range of stakeholders, including teams, distributors, agencies, and trade users (such as restaurants). They have over 6,500 users who now get the content they need from a central source of truth.

Sync assets to other essential tools
To further streamline access to essential brand assets, Beam Suntory has integrated Widen with other tools — including Sharepoint, which is heavily used by their distributors.

“Our Sharepoint system is document focused,” explained Tony. It houses PDFs, spreadsheets, Word documents, sell sheets, and other text-based files. “But the problem we always run into is that folks want the logos, too.”

So individuals download brand assets from the DAM system and post them in Sharepoint. “And so now, these assets exist in two places. And of course, no one keeps that up to date. So we find out a year later that people are posting old logos everywhere because they got them from Sharepoint.”

So Beam Suntory used the Widen API to build a custom integration that syncs assets from a collection in the DAM system to their Sharepoint site. The collection could include bottle shots, logos, marketing photography, videos, brand education materials, and other key assets. “This way, we have a single point of truth. And as long as we manage it in the DAM system, we know that it will flow into the Sharepoint site,” Tony explained.

“The Sharepoint pages are organized by brand,” he continued. “And so they go to a particular brand to see that document library. The Widen assets behave just as a document would, except for they show a thumbnail. If the user hovers over it, it displays a bigger thumbnail. And if they click on it, it brings them into the DAM system where they have all the options to download the file in the size they need.”

In addition, Sharepoint pages include a link to a Widen portal that includes assets from multiple collections. “The Portals are more in depth,” Tony explained. “You're going to get your fonts, color schemes, lifestyle photography, everything like that.”

So for example, agencies using the Beam Suntory Sharepoint site might access the portal, whereas distributors might simply grab a logo or bottle shot right from the file directory.

By providing access to the most essential assets with one click, and to more in-depth content with another click, they are serving the content needs of different user groups — while maintaining control of their brand.

Benefits

Historical preservation
“Documenting our history is an ongoing process that's almost insurmountable because we have so much,” Tony shared. “For example, in couple of weeks I'm going to Kentucky to catalog all of the decanters that Beam has made over the years...and we have hundreds of these from decades and decades ago that we catalog in the DAL to keep track of them from a historical perspective and to ensure they are at the ready to support new websites or other materials.” 

With Widen, Beam Suntory is able to document and organize their historical artifacts so they can be used to support their brand experience, at scale.

Brand consistency 
Widen’s robust permission tools allow Beam Suntory to ensure that users only have access to the assets they are authorized to use, to support brand consistency. “We have secure asset groups that we manage,” Tony shared. “We keep a pretty close eye on our content just to make sure nothing gets used that shouldn't.”

And with self-serve access to current and approved assets, that’s further streamlined through system integrations, Beam Suntory employees and partners are able to build a cohesive brand narrative across their customer journey.

Competitive advantage
With Widen, Beam Suntory elevates their company history within their brand identity, creating valuable market differentiation. Historical assets appear in content across their marketing channels, including their website, sales collateral, commercials, and even in their Kentucky distillery.

“The Jim Beam distillery just underwent a significant renovation, and we were at the ready with material for them to use in that built environment and throughout the visitor tour,” Tony shared. By maximizing the use of their brand and historical assets, Beam Suntory ensures that the company legacy lives on, at every customer touch point.

“There's so much history in this company — all sorts of artifacts that we catalog using the DAM system.”  

Tony Maguire
Product and Program Manager
Beam Suntory