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Laura Mercier Overcomes Content Chaos and Boosts the Use of Photography Investments With Their New DAM System

Global cosmetic and skincare company Laura Mercier successfully launches their new digital asset management (DAM) system to gain the control and organization they need to get the most out of their content investment.

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Laura Mercier is owned by Shiseido, one of the largest and oldest beauty companies in the world. Seeing the value in a DAM system, Shiseido purchased the Widen Collective® for several companies within their family of brands, including NARS, Clé de Peau Beauté, Drunk Elephant, Laura Mercier, and Shiseido Professional. Laura Mercier intended to roll out out the new DAM system, but without a dedicated DAM admin to oversee the launch (and the system), the project stalled.

Instead of using the Collective to manage their large and growing library of digital assets, Laura Mercier continued to rely on Box, a cloud-storage tool that allows organizations to store, share, and collaborate across files. The result was far from ideal. Duplicate, outdated files were scattered everywhere. Filenames were a mess. And there was no effective way for teams to search for photos, videos, and other creative assets within the tool’s folder-based system. Producing and shooting all of this content was expensive, and the fact that nobody could find what they needed was becoming a very large and costly problem.

Something had to change. And finally, in November 2019, Laura Mercier hired Anna Raugalis as their new Manager of Digital Assets. “When I started, my mission was to get the Collective up and running as quickly as possible,” said Anna. “It’s a little daunting to start up with a new company while learning all about the brand — all the products, the internal workings of the office — and then to get the DAM system up.” Pair this with an impending pandemic, no predecessor to hand off the role, and a global team that was hesitant to move from their legacy tool — and Anna had quite the challenge ahead.


Transition creative assets out of Box and into the Widen Collective

Rollout the DAM system quickly and globally

Drive user adoption with effective change management

Set teams up for success and enable them to do more


A dedicated DAM admin
Hiring Anna was the first step in Laura Mercier’s quest to overcome their DAM challenges and transition from Box to the Collective. “At a certain point, it became not just a day-to-day annoyance but something that was actually costing the company money, and something they wanted to invest in,” said Anna about the state of Laura Mercier’s assets and the need for her new role. “They realized they needed a dedicated person who had expertise in DAM and whose only job would be managing the DAM system,” continued Anna. “It’s such a huge undertaking that it couldn’t just be an afterthought position.” And Anna’s right. From learning how to best set up the system to engaging users, training global teams, uploading and organizing assets, and maintaining the system — being a DAM admin is a full-time job.

A user-first experience
Anna may have been new to Laura Mercier, but she was no stranger to managing large volumes of digital assets. Anna knew that one of the most important things she could do was to organize the DAM system in a way that worked for her users. “It’s just like online shopping,” said Anna about using a DAM system. With this in mind, Anna set up metadata fields and a system hierarchy that aligned with user searches and mimicked how customers shop for products (e.g. sorting by product type rather than file type).

But more than that, Anna listened to her user base. She took their feedback and adjusted the system to support how they work. Sometimes this was as simple as incorporating common company acronyms in the DAM system. But other times, she’d learn something truly surprising and work that in. For example, when she discovered that users were looking for asset size and spec information in the actual filename, she pivoted and adjusted her naming conventions.

Anna’s secret to success? “Give yourself space to understand both the DAM system, what it can and can’t do — and then what your company needs [and] what your users need,” shared Anna. “And don’t be so set in stone with whatever rules you think are ‘the right thing to do.’”

A thoughtful transition
“I know that everyone was very comfortable on Box, even though they couldn't find anything,” said Anna. “I think that people were afraid of us rolling out a new tool that would be just another confusing thing they had to deal with.” So to ease the trepidation of her users, Anna worked to bridge the transition as much as possible. One way she did this was through the use of Portals, the Collective app that allows brands to curate subsets of assets that can be distributed and accessed outside of the DAM system. “I’ve relied heavily on Portals to sort of mimic the folder feel of Box,” shared Anna. “I've done that a lot in the first year just to get people over the hump of getting away from folders and learning this new filtering system [in the Collective].”


Approachable training
“There’s no perfect replacement for face-to-face, especially in training situations,” said Anna. But given the pandemic and that Laura Mercier has employees located all over the world, virtual training was inevitable. With this in mind, Anna adopted a very personalized, inviting training strategy. She put together intimate training groups of 10 to 15 individuals from the same region to ensure people were comfortable asking questions. Anna also created a Portal full of training documentation. Not all users’ first language is English, so this helped Anna make those users (and really any users) feel supported. “Also, just being very available,” said Anna. “I think that’s been helpful, especially with people being remote.”


“The support team has been A-MAZING! All DAM systems can organize information, but the thing I like about Widen is definitely the support.”

Anna Raugalis,
Manager of Digital Assets at Laura Mercier


Source of truth
With a dedicated DAM admin in place, Laura Mercier now has someone to set and enforce guidelines and standards for how the company manages their digital assets. Prior to Anna, the creative team could upload any assets they wanted into Box, with whatever filename, and in whatever location they saw fit. “I saw the chaos that was Box,” reflected Anna. “I put a stop to that really quickly.”

Laura Mercier’s digital assets are now more organized; there’s no denying that. But that’s just part of it. “This tool has become a source of truth for people in a way they maybe didn’t know they could have,” said Anna. “I’m proud of the trust that myself and the Collective has created.”

Greater ROI
“We would spend all of this money and time and effort on these massive shoots and then struggle to locate final assets...we would lose our behind-the-scenes stuff or things that just get lost in someone's private Box folder,” recalled Anna. Now that Laura Mercier is up and running on the Collective, users can easily search or filter to locate a particular asset or discover images and videos they may never have known existed.

“Looking at what people download, I think people are using assets more because they can find them and understand what they are,” said Anna. With more helpful file naming conventions and the ability to associate information (or metadata) with assets in the Collective, Laura Mercier’s teams no longer have to dig through folder after folder in Box looking for the assets they need. Rather, they can allocate their time to more impactful tasks.

Global support
“People are very comfortable with their folders; they like their folders,” said Anna about the organization structure used in Box. With that said, folder-based systems aren’t ideal when teams, departments, partners, and regions are all collaborating within a tool. A folder location that makes sense for one team, may not make sense to another.

“The Collective is more dynamic and things can live in multiple places...You can search all these different ways, and you don't just have to go to one place to find one thing. You can find things in lots of different ways,” said Anna. Additionally, Laura Mercier has greater control now. Most assets are available globally, but there are situations where regions have different legal requirements. For example, regions have geo-specific rules about the language that can and cannot appear on a product containing sun protection factor (SPF). By creating user groups for each of their global regions, Laura Mercier can control which regions have access to which assets and ensure they remain compliant at all times.

A unified family of brands
As a global company that’s part of a large family of brands, Laura Mercier benefits from using the same DAM system as their sibling brands. “We still kind of have a young DAM system,” shared Anna. “But I think it helps that all the other brands under Shiseido also use Widen.”

The benefits are numerous. For one, launching the system was easier for Laura Mercier because Anna could meet with the DAM admin at their sibling brand, NARS. This allowed Anna to gather launch advice, learn about what was and wasn’t working for NARS, and figure out if there were areas she could create DAM consistency across the family of brands.

Using the same DAM system from the same vendor also helped with user adoption. “It’s not like something no one’s ever heard of before,” said Anna about the Collective. “Instead, I think it [adoption] is just a matter of people understanding how it can help them, which is often my role — to evangelize the DAM system.”