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Digital Asset Management: The Single Center of Truth

5/20/2020 | John Kottcamp

If content is the currency of experience, then a global consolidated Digital Asset Management (DAM) system is its bank. Now more than ever, the relationship between a company, its brands and its customers, partners and employees is digital Strong brands are able to deliver consistent content-driven experiences across multiple channels, devices and platforms, including intelligent devices (IoT), smartphones, apps, kiosks, POS, digital out of home (OOH), and of course websites. 

At the heart of these experiences is content - its creation, compilation, curation, management, publication, distribution, measurement, and consumption.  Content strategy governs the process by which ideas are transferred from the creator to the consumer Content experiences are manifested as a set of digital assets; both text and images, brought together at the right time, in the right context and presented to the right person. Content insights measure the performance and impact of the content on the business.  

The aggregation and management of these assets, in a single center of truth, is what a DAM is all about; and why your company needs one.  But just having a DAM is not enough.  If you are a global enterprise, the consolidation to a single global DAM is what is required.  Anything else just adds complexity, confusion, and cost. 

Here is a top ten list of why your organization needs a single, centralized, enterprise DAM integrated into a global Content Hub: 

  1. 1. It amplifies, protects, and globalizes your brand. 

  1. 2. It keeps all your digital properties synchronized. 

  1. 3. It facilitates brand and legal compliance and governance. 

  1. 4. It eliminates the effort to recreate assets in different markets. 

  1. 5. It saves time, money and resources required to maintain duplicated assets. 

  1. 6. It speeds time to market for new content. 

  1. 7. It effectively manages the lifecycle of all content. 

  1. 8. It scales to accommodate new channels, markets, and products. 

  1. 9. It facilitates Translation Management regardless of the number of languages. 

  1. 10. It provides a single source of metrics to understand the contribution to the business.  

 
But don’t take my word for it.  Let’s look at some real-world examples of global brands that have seen the wisdom in implementing a centralized DAM, as a core part of an integrated global Content Hub, to deliver world-class content experiences. 

Global brand management is the key to brand equity. The Disney logo is one of the most valuable and protected digital assets in the world I’d show it here, but that would be a violation not only of a trademark but an entire brand and culture.  However, even the rough outline of a famous mouse’s head is enough to conjure feelings, memories, and an affiliation with an iconic brand. 

Imagine if every Disney department in every country in the world created their own Disney brand imagery and their own brand assets. What would happen to the equity found within the Disney brand?  Much of a brand’s value comes from its consistency in presentation, guaranteed by rigorous brand compliance rules and mechanisms.  If every team around the world used a single source for mouse imagery, the brand would be better protected. 

DAM ensures compliance -- regulatory and brand.  A DAM is especially critical for regulated industries like financial services, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare.  By law, they must take extra precautions when it comes to their assets. Imagine if Bayer had promoted its pain medicine as “The Real Thing” instead of Coca-Cola in the 1960s.   

On the flip side, what Coca-Cola was required to have a warning label on its iconic bottles telling consumers that this product’s primary ingredient is sugar and drinking it dramatically increases the chance of contracting Diabetes.   

Publish once, distribute once is possible with a global DAM integrated with a headless Content Management System (CMS). Marking its 40th anniversary, Starbucks decided to update its logo for only the third time in the company’s history.  It removed the name Starbucks and the word coffee.  It updated the Mermaid to a much more stylized image.  There was worry at the time that the logo wasn’t strong enough to make the transition.  At that time there were almost 17,000 stores. Now, in 2020, the number has nearly doubled to 33,000.  Revenue went from $11bn to $27bn.  It appears Starbucks survived the logo change.   

Consider for a moment what it took logistically to make that brand transition happen. Starbucks needed to change the logo on all cups, menus, signs, and uniforms in tens of thousands of stores.  With a global digital asset management system tied to a headless CMS, Starbucks could have swapped out the new logo for the old one once and it would have been automatically updated on every digital instance and in real-time.   

Without a global DAM in place, Starbucks had to pay many agencies and work with multiple marketing units to make the change in 2011.  It took time, money, and resources. Moreover, it produced an inconsistent brand image for an extended period of time.  Starbucks has learned its lesson. 

What content is working and its impact on the business. A major Taiwanese computer manufacturer spends millions every year doing photoshoots with products to boost its online and retail sales.  When asked which images were most effective, they were unable to tell.  Marketing and digital got their direction from the product teams. No one was gathering analytics across channels, markets, and products to measure the performance of the content.  With a centralized DAM’s integrated analytics, the product teams, marketing, and digital producers would all have customer insight into what works and what doesn’t.  And knowing what works boosts sales and saves on time, money, and resources, both now and in the future. 

Content is a lot easier to find with a global DAM that uses a universal taxonomy, automated metadata tagging and a rigorous content lifecycle management program.  It simplifies the management of all content and saves the users time and effort. Most financial services and consulting firms have trouble with search results on their knowledge portals They constantly need to add, update, or change content due in part to changes in local and international standards The new, externally generated content is not tagged and contains little metadata.  This makes the content very difficult to find using search. DAM changes all of that. 

Without a centralized global DAM, there is no content lifecycle management.  Far too many companies publish content without any plan to update or archive it.  Whenever an update or new content is created, it is added to the portal.  Over time, this results in a glut of outdated or irrelevant content, resulting in large and inaccurate search results. This frustrates users and adds clutter to the management of the content repository. 

Digital Asset Management is both the name of a type of software (DAM) and a set of business processes.  DAM is a key component of a Content Hub, which governs and manages the content in any digital content experience.  In addition to a DAM, an integrated global content hub contains a Content Management System (CMS), a Product Information Management (PIM) and a translation management system to help manage global content.  If you are a global company, you need all the components of a Content Hub to create, deliver and manage digital content experiences. And at the center of that Content Hub resides a global DAM. 

Not only is a global DAM a company’s single center of content truth, but it also allows for the documentation and implementation of business process with which a company can manage its digital assets as well.  It changes the entire way content is created, produced, distributed, and measured. Those content processes embodied in a global content strategy will directly impact the performance of the content, the customer’s experience, and the impact that the content experience will have on the business. 

These are the features and benefits of a single consolidated global DAM.  Piecemeal, local, or homegrown solutions will not produce these outcomes.  Implementing a DAM without consideration for its integration into a complete Content Hub will hamper its ability to function efficiently, bringing maximum return to the company and delivering the best experiences for customers, partners, and employees. 

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