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Kate Elizabeth — 29 October 2018
Brand management, digital asset management, content management and branding automation management are key platforms used in traditional marketing technology stacks for enterprise-level organisations, and there is much cross-over between their features and functionality.
Let's take a look at these categories, what separates them and what similarities exist.
Brand management software allows brand managers and marketing teams to centrally store, in a single database, brand assets and files. From this database employees and partners can manage, access, store and share these assets to ensure the correct brand assets are applied.
The in-house marketing team usually manages brand management software, updating assets and guidelines and shared with partners - agency partners, design and digital partners and freelancers to allow them to use and access brand assets.
Brand management platforms are traditionally static repositories of brand assets and brand guidelines. The assets are available for sharing and downloading - logos, colours, patterns, images, UI components, icons and illustrations.
The framework for brand management platforms is usually:
Folders and individual files can be downloaded and shared when required, and the system is the single source of truth for brand assets.
Brand management software usually sits as a bit of a silo, not integrating with other systems, and as a single source of truth for brand assets can be invaluable.
Sharing your assets easily and quickly with your partners and having brand guidelines easily disseminated is less risky and fraught than the supply of zip files of assets.
The lack of integration, or real-time use, limits its usefulness, however. The assets stored there are available for download, but to be appropriately used in building brand and marketing collateral, they need to be saved down and placed within an InDesign document, for example.
This functionality, of course, means that there is no guarantee the correct assets are used because we all know what local drives end up looking like - 30 versions of the logo in 4 different outputs with non-standard naming conventions and nobody knows which is the right one for this job.
There are hundreds of brand management platforms available, from both small, niche providers and global companies.
The major players in the brand management space are IntelligenceBank, Bynder, Widen Collective, Percolate and Frontify. A number of these organisations also have feature sets in other marketing technology categories.
Digital Asset Management (DAM) is very similar to a brand management platform but often has inbuilt editing capabilities for tweaking files. It focuses less on branding assets and brand guidelines and more on image, audio and video storage and sorting capability.
The taxonomy and metadata of digital asset management is a priority - with thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of images and AV files, being able to find the right assets is imperative. Folder structure, tagging, auto-tagging and metadata ensure you use the correct assets.
Media asset management is a subset of digital asset management with more functionality around media files like video - it often has in-app simple editing functionality to create snippets or branded top 'n' tail content.
Good digital asset management software allows only the appropriate assets to be seen and used by the user. This feature minimises the risk of using the wrong images. A good DAM hinges on the taxonomy (folder structure and naming conventions), without this you are required to manually look for the right assets instead of using the search functionality.
Similar to brand management software, most digital asset managers operate as cloud storage and the assets downloaded before use or placement. The need to download before use limits the effectiveness of the central storage solution.
The DAM market is a crowded space with a lot of advertising and creative agencies spinning up their internal storage solutions into a saleable platform.
The specialists have the edge here with the major players in the digital asset management category similar to the brand management category - Adobe Experience Manager, IntelligenceBank, Bynder, Widen Collective, Percolate, Asset Bank, AdZu, Brandworkz and Frontify.
To be clear, we are not talking about your content management system as part of your website to manage the creation and display of website content - we are talking about content marketing management to support your go-to-market and communication strategies.
Content marketing across many platforms, locations and roles quickly become a complex operation, and a content marketing management platform (what a mouthful!) allows you to strategise, plan, develop and execute content through a central platform.
The framework for content marketing software hinges around process and collaboration. The centrally documented strategy is used to drive the goals of campaigns and channels. Content produced in the platform is shared, collaborated upon, approved and disseminated without the need for other platforms.
The framework allows you to build strategy and marketing plans, coordinate production, manage content and publishing and review the impact of your work through reporting and analysis.
Content marketing management is a far more advanced version of social media management platforms (which is only one channel in their ecosystem) and shouldn't be compared to Hootsuite or Sprout Social.
Content marketing management systems allow easy re-purposing of existing content, ensuring your team doesn't need to reinvent the wheel every time they need to write and build content. Some platforms have asset management incorporated, but it isn't the primary function and integration with a specialist DAM is common.
Content marketing management systems are most commonly built for enterprise-level organisations and have the corresponding user count and costs associated with it. Marketing resource management platforms, used as an alternative to content marketing management systems have dedicated budget and financial capabilities.
Percolate dominates this space alongside companies like Simple, AdZu and Aprimo.
Brand automation uses technology to automate on-brand marketing production. Brand automation, at its most basic level, takes existing brand and marketing assets and automates the placement and use of these within a template framework.
Brand automation goes further than applying the right colours or logos based on a user profile; it produces assets based on data sources and data sets without manual set up or intervention. This powerful integration opportunity enables users to build an enormous volume of work quickly, straight from the single source of truth, e.g. CRM.
What is the framework of branding automation management software?
It takes elements from brand management, digital asset management and content marketing management platforms to create the right assets based on user data, location and brand guidelines. It dynamically uses your assets rather than storing them statically, and because of the platform framework, ensures non-designers can produce branded collateral.
It applies your:
Branding automation management allows your teams to use the platform to create their collateral without the need to request anything of the central marketing team.
It is complementary to other martech categories like DAM and content marketing management because it can both draw down on the assets from your DAM and use them 'live' and create collateral for your content marketing platform - feeding the hungry content beast as it were.
Branding automation works best when it has datasets to ingest and apply to creative solutions, increasing production efficiency and personalisation.
Design without the designer is undoubtedly an element of branding automation, but unlike a platform like Canva, it more rigorously applies the brand guidelines into your exact template specifications.
Traditionally the remit of printers and advertising agencies who wanted to provide easy artwork creation functionality for large clients, ingesting data and branding assets at scale to contextualise collateral is best delivered by a technology and marketing specialist like Outfit.