trombone player playing his heart out
When you get departments throughout your company using your DAM, your company communications will start to sing PHOTO: Fede Casanova

Business departments often sound like members of a middle school orchestra. In theory, they’re one group, but you wouldn’t know that from the music. 

Maybe the problem is that kids identify as flutists, violinists, trumpeters and drummers rather than as part of the orchestra — their tools divide them. 

You see where I'm going with this, right? Sometimes the software different business departments use can similarly fragment the b(r)and.

Although marketing departments usually own digital asset management (DAM), I believe it has the potential to cut across departments and become a unifying force. Let’s look at how you get a “DAM jam” going and why it matters.

Communications Has Spread

Expression used to be centralized. Every press release, radio segment and TV ad originated with marketers. 

Now, expression is decentralized. Human resources, product managers, salespeople, accountants and others make and publish content. A channel has become any place people exchange information.

For example, your product team might use Trello boards to communicate a roadmap. Their words, screenshots, diagrams, charts and images are content. The product leaders might share that roadmap with customers and the public to get feedback. Hence, that roadmap represents your brand.

HR makes tons of content, too. Their web pages, career fair brochures and job posts are content. When customer service teams put together an FAQ to help people navigate your software or website, they, too, are making content. Even accountants create content when they compose slide decks on quarterly earnings.

Web publishing and the knowledge economy took brand expression beyond marketing (assembly line workers made a lot of things, but notably didn’t make content). Marketers could control quality in pre-digital times, but that's no longer the case. Quality has slid with quantity. It’s as if we invited that middle school orchestra to join a formidable jazz band.

Enter DAM

Marketers obsess over brand guidelines and creative technique. Those outside of marketing … not so much. 

The review process for a product roadmap is more likely to scrutinize the concepts than the presentation and artistic qualities. Wider circulation of DAM in enterprises, however, would enable other departments to use higher-quality visual materials.

DAM is not in the consciousness of most people. If you work in sales and need a photo for the deck you are making, you probably search Google Images. The same may goes for HR. You use Google or stock image sites because you need to get that new company culture page up ASAP. Never mind image rights and file quality.

People seek the easiest way to express themselves, so there’s a place for DAM and its visual assets in every department. In fact, by guiding product teams, salespeople, HR and customer service to DAM, marketers could regain some power over the brand. If DAM contains the best visuals — and departments know to go there — they’re going to DAM jam.

Selling DAM to Others

Here’s how to make that happen:

Map the journey

As I said, other departments will use the marketing content stored in DAM systems as soon as they realize the convenience and how their communications will improve as a result. 

But at your company, you’ll have to map the “why” in more detail. Which people frequently use or make content? How? Where do they publish it and for what audience? How do visuals serve their purpose?

The questions are an exercise in empathizing with how non-marketers use DAM. They highlight what images to create and provide, and what content to hide from, say, salespeople. (Hint: Don’t show them rough drafts of anything.)

Educate

You’ve asked the flutists, violinists and trumpeters to jam with your drums. Give just enough guidance. In a five-minute video or quick workshop, teach DAM newbies how to find images.

If you plan to let a department contribute to the DAM, teach its members basic metadata entry — essentially, how to tag and categorize new content with keywords.

Give everyone a crash course on your brand guidelines. What are the five most important dos and five most important don’ts?

Bring DAM to them

Your best chance at spreading DAM is to put it where people already work. 

If salespeople can search the DAM in Salesforce, they’ll use it. If the product team can yank images from the DAM on Slack, they will. People who work from the Google Suite will want their materials in sync with Google Drive. 

Integrate DAM in ways that makes it unavoidable and too convenient not to use. That will overcome the inertia people experience when they’re expected to adopt a new instrument.

DAM Jam

Spread DAM throughout an enterprise to make communications — wherever they appear — sound like they came from the one brand. Fifty musicians playing to a different beat is painful to hear. Fifty musicians playing the different components of one song in unison creates expression greater than the sum of sounds.

Which would you rather be: the middle school orchestra or the swinging jazz band?