Branding Automation: The Evolution of Digital Asset Management

Digital asset management sits at the core of many a brand, as a tool to serve and assist in brand management, communication, and much more besides. However, the market being served by digital asset management is transforming; and the rise of digital is driving a shift, not only in how digital asset management is used, but also who uses it. Writing exclusively for ExchangeWire, Paul Rowley (pictured below), head of UK, Bynder, explains how brand automation is becoming the digital asset management of old.

Digital Asset Management (DAM), as we know it, has disappeared. In a digital world saturated with brand content, and ever-growing pressure on marketers to be reactive, the old online library of rich media simply won’t cut it anymore and branding automation has stepped in to take its place.

While the core business need for a solution that stores brand assets and manages digital property rights still remains, communication and branding efforts now move much faster than before. More channels mean more touchpoints. While this does mean we are more connected as consumers, as marketers, it increases the risk for inconsistency or error in communicating the brand and its value. 

The consumer is, of course, at the centre of everything. Digital means brands must deliver on the value exchange that takes place when identity, search, and social data is shared. Now that we know what consumers want, marketers need the intuitive tools and collaborative processes that enable them to reiterate, approve, and distribute tailored digital and physical assets on the fly. 

Brand management 

An important consequence of the increased number of channels, and rising expectations for personalised, engaging campaign creative, is that marketers are spending more and more time coordinating content, distributing new guidelines, and managing approvals. Traditional DAM, whilst performing a critical function in this, doesn’t go very far in helping to streamline processes.

The strain of manually coordinating every campaign means that approvals can go wrong. Take the South African division of pen maker Bic, as an example. The stationary supplier mistakenly commemorated National Women's Day with the tagline: “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss.” It’s easy to see how a second opinion in the creative process could have saved the brand from a major social media fallout. 

Successful branding starts with effective communication and collaboration. DAM needs to perform more than its static server function for visual aesthetics and, instead, take an active role in the creation and alignment all of the company’s assets, channels, and brand experience. It should be a content hub that takes away the need for a dozen emails every time a guideline is changed or an edit is made, constantly synchronising every local team in real-time to ensure the highest brand consistency.

Collaboration internally & externally

Paul Rowley | Bynder

Paul Rowley, Head of UK, Bynder

Traditionally, the IT team who bought DAM technology would be the only ones able to use it. Now, branding technology must suit the needs of anyone who needs to source, edit, and share brand content – pretty much everyone in the business. Branding automation does this by adopting the same processes and UIs users have become accustomed to in their personal lives, eliminating training requirements via a familiar, intuitive portal. 

With granular permissions underpinning which assets are available to which people at what times, suddenly international sales teams and creative agencies, who previously communicated over email, are able to drag and drop creative through the same system being used at head office. 

At Bynder, for example, new starters are on-boarded through the branding automation system, creating their own business cards with the creative toolset and attending global training programmes led through the portal. Particularly for the marketing department, connecting the most junior members of the team with this creative function from the get go is a powerful incentive for young marketers drawn to the career by the promise of applied creativity. 

Competitive edge through agility 

Oreo’s ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ tweet stunt at the Superbowl back in 2013 still stands out as great, timely, responsive content. Brands are regularly looking to echo the brand’s success. For example, when Gareth Bale was sold as the most expensive footballer, Innocent, the smoothie brand, jumped on the news and shared a tweet about what could be bought with the equivalent money. 

To achieve similar results in local markets, marketing departments must be able to give individual and local marketing teams the freedom to colour, just within the lines. This is where an approved bank of digital assets, that is easily accessible, means that the marketing department can have full faith that their teams across the world always have access to the right assets and correct editing options to ensure creative is kept on-brand. 

Building trust with big corporates 

When cloud-based technologies first arrived on the scene, they were a challenging proposition for larger companies. Typically, these companies would use their own forms of encryption throughout the organisation, often with strong legal agreements in place around the protection of sensitive intellectual property. 

Times change, and now cloud services have overcome the stigmas around security. For brands carrying agreements with public figures and events, like the Olympics for instance, cloud technology actually offers numerous advantages in ensuring the brand doesn’t overstep sponsorship rules at an international level by building the guidelines into the same system marketers are using to tailor and deliver local campaigns. 

In summary, the market DAM serves has transformed; and the rise of branding automation reflects this. By enabling a more streamlined approach to content collaboration, companies choose branding automation to mitigate the risk of any inaccurate or unauthorised content leaking into the market. The service is measured by the impact it has on time recovered for creative processes, a goal which is only helped by the fact sales teams, who had never previously engaged with digital assets, are able to tailor brand content for their own ends. All of this certainly doesn’t mark the end of DAM’s transformation; but it’s an interesting point at which to take stock of what branding technology has achieved.