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DAM 101

How Digital Asset Management Saved Christmas: A Stacks Story

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | Dec 16, 2021

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‘Twas three months until Christmas, and all through the North Pole corporate headquarters, the entire marketing department was stirring. Two months earlier, representatives from each department of the marketing division had met to align on goals and strategy for the major marketing push leading up to the big day. Buddy, Creative Director, Bernard, Head of Social Media Marketing, Hermey, Web Manager, and Legolas, Partner Marketing Director, had all been excited about the story they would craft to get children, parents, and anyone in between in the joyful spirit.

All spring and summer, Buddy’s team had been hard at work developing compelling content with the theme of “Get What You Want by Giving a Little Love.” The whole division was sure the effort would yield strong results in the form of doubling the letters written to Santa from the year before. Even Legolas, the cynic of the group, had heaped praise on the creatives’ efforts. To reflect their excitement, Hermey had hosted a Christmas in July party in the Elves Workshop, complete with iced hot chocolate, candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.

Spoiler alert: the festivities didn’t last. Now, in the thick of the Christmas season (September), the marketing team was in disarray. The content marketing push they’d planned and promised to partners was lagging behind schedule and was already well over budget, leading to layoffs in both the warehouse and workshop. The failures of the marketing team were endangering the success of the holiday. Why did this happen? What led to these failures? How could Christmas be saved?

Identifying the Problem

One foggy Tuesday afternoon, Bernard called the stakeholder team together for an emergency meeting. “I know we’re all frustrated,” he said, “but let’s not forget we’re on the same team. Remember this year’s motto, ‘Get What You Want by Giving a Little Love.’ With that in mind, Hermey, why don’t you start with what’s slowing your team down?”

“Okay,” Hermey shyly responded. “Well, our website and digital platforms require some pretty specific file formats, and, um, we haven’t always been able to find what we want in GiftBox in the right format. We’re having to reformat each file internally. Those copies get lost pretty quickly, though, because, uh, no one is putting them back into GiftBox because they’re moving so quickly. We keep having to repeat the process.”

“My team is experiencing the same thing,” Legolas confidently interjected. “Partners keep requesting content and we can’t find a thing, and neither can Buddy’s team. It’s slowing everything down. My team has taken to sending them files from last year’s campaigns just to meet deadlines.”

“We’ve had to do the same thing, which isn’t ideal since the new content this year is so strong. Buddy, any thoughts on what’s keeping your team from finding what they need?” Bernard asked.

“We’re overwhelmed!” Buddy exclaimed. “All we do is look for things your teams ask for. Hermey, I’m sorry, but all those duplicates are cluttering GiftBox, and every copy isn’t even in there. We have no way to efficiently search for specific items. The reason it sometimes takes so long is that my team has been recreating content because it’s faster than looking for it at this point. I know we’re letting you all down, but it’s a problem I just don’t know how to begin solving, especially this deep into the season (again, September).”

“Uh, Bernard?” Hermey raised his hand.

“Yes, Herm?”

“Well, last year when I was visiting my cousin in Ireland, she said their marketing team experienced the same thing leading up to St. Patrick’s day. She, um, mentioned that they fixed it using a DAM program, and now their marketing department is the most profitable in the organization. I know, it’s a very different industry, but I still wanted to mention it.”

Buddy perked up. “I’ve heard of DAM programs. I’m not 100% sure what they are, but I can put some time into researching it if that works for the group. I also think it would be good to get our teams’ thoughts on these issues. Hermey, can you create a survey to send out to them about what we’ve discussed? In the meantime, Bernie and Legolas, could anyone from your teams spend some time this week cleaning up GiftBox?”

Hermey nodded in agreement. Bernard gave a wide-grinned, “Yes!” Legolas grunted.

The Beginning of DAM

Late that night, as dreams of gumdrops and sugar plums danced in his children’s heads, Buddy decided to find out what DAM was and how it could help. After a few Google searches, he discovered the acronym stood for “digital asset management.” Several more hours passed with little to show for them. All Buddy could find were technical and jargon-laced blogs and reports he had trouble understanding, no information for beginners like himself. Finally, in desperation, he typed “DAM consultant” and pressed enter. His eyes widened as he clicked the top result. There it was! Exactly the information he needed about how to build and implement a scalable DAM program, all laid out for his team to follow. He spent the rest of the night on the site, taking notes to bring to the group.

Buddy excitedly shared what he had learned with the rest of the team the following week. His idea to survey the rest of the members of the team had been spot on, and Hermey shared the results. The top grievances about the current methods of managing content were:

  1. No good way to search
  2. Hard to access content when needed
  3. No central place where assets live

The survey clearly pointed to a need for a centralized place to store, access, and manage creative content. In other words, a DAM. Legolas and Hermey expressed skepticism and said they needed to do more research before investing time and money into building something that might not work. Bernard was mostly on board. He reassured the others that they would just take the first steps that Buddy learned about on the consultant’s website, namely creating standards for how to manage digital assets.

“Right now, we aren’t even using GiftBox to its full potential. Our file names and folder structure are a mess and we don’t use any kind of controlled vocabulary to search. There’s no way implementing standards could hurt,” he said sincerely.

The team agreed to meet again and build their standards out together, following another survey of the team to get ideas. Hermey found the department’s old file naming standards hidden deep in his predecessor’s file cabinet and brought them to the meeting. Together, the team spent hours discussing and building new and improved standards to serve the end-users of the beautiful content they’d already made. They broke for a mid-afternoon snowball fight, reconvened over some eggnog, and then finished putting the finishing touches on the document.

Before locking it in, Legolas, now the biggest champion of the DAM program, shared the first draft with the rest of the team for feedback. Bernard then revised the document and sent it to Buddy for final review. Below is the finished product:


The elves still had a long way to go before their DAM program was fully operational, including changing file names, reorganizing their current system, and applying metadata to assets. Eventually, they would need to evaluate and identify a more robust platform to suit their needs and migrate their content onto it. For this year, however, implementing these simple standards allowed them to turn things around. Record numbers of letters flooded into the North Pole, the layoffs were reversed, and lots of love was given around the world, allowing the North Pole and its partners to achieve their goal of a very merry Christmas for all.

If you or your team relates to this story, don’t go it alone. Stacks is here to help! Contact us for guidance and help to build a DAM program like the elves did, as well as implement and manage it going forward.

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