A Guide to Image Management
It’s no secret that today’s brands run on imagery: logos, company photos, product imagery, social media assets, and so much more. Brands use this content to tell a unique, compelling story about their company’s mission, products, and services. Without these images, this story is a lot harder to tell. That’s why it’s critical to store all of these visual brand assets in a secure and easy-to-access location, but what does that look like?
Just as people have relied on physical libraries for centuries to access, organize, and manage physical content, digital libraries exist to do the same for digital content. Without a central source it becomes much harder to keep track of brand assets, putting teams at risk of wasting time, money, and resources to recreate or track down the content they need to use to tell their story. That’s where image management comes in.
What is image management?
Image management is the administration of digital imagery throughout its lifecycle. This includes how this content is created, organized, accessed, shared, and analyzed. There are tools and software — including digital asset management (DAM) platforms — to streamline all aspects of this content curation and distribution.
Why is image management important?
Unwieldy image libraries can be cumbersome to keep organized, make finding the right assets difficult, and create clunky content workflows. But the discipline of image management — and the adoption of an image management platform — helps you mitigate these chaos-causing challenges.
Practicing image management leads to establishing a central source of images that’s easily searchable, gives you control of your brand consistency, and speeds up day-to-day operations.
A well-managed image library is also a critical strategic asset in delivering positive customer experiences. It’s much easier to create new software products or shopping features when all of your images are tagged with correct metadata, easily resized on the fly, and immediately available to people and systems around the world.
Who needs image management?
Every company needs image management at some scale. E-commerce leaders that manage tens of thousands of product images every year, tech startups creating strong brands around singular products, and B2B companies of all kinds can speed up their workflows and increase collaboration with strong image management.
Marketing and creative teams tend to be the biggest users of image management, although it really benefits the entire company. Social media posts, emails, landing pages, blog articles, and product-launches all depend on well-organized image libraries. Omnichannel marketing and digital experience strategies can only succeed when they’re fed by a high-quality stream of content.
Sales and e-commerce teams also rely on images everyday to get their jobs done. So do product managers, HR professionals, and customer service representatives. Ultimately, everyone needs access to clearly labeled, up-to-date, approved, and on-brand images if you want your company to thrive. And a crucial step in making that possible is choosing the right image management software.
What are the benefits of image management software?
Your images, videos, and graphics express your brand’s story to the world. Image management software like a digital asset management (DAM) solution serve as a central repository for all of these brand assets, and provide reliable and easy access to both internal colleagues and external partners. The benefits of this software are numerous:
- Organization: Metadata attached to each image allows assets to be organized into categories, or curated into collections for specific users.
- Security: Roles and permissions control what images are available to different users.
- Easy retrieval: Search tools provide teams with clear and reliable access to the assets they need, when they need them.
- Enhanced collaboration: Version control tools identify the most current file iteration, to facilitate seamless handoffs across team members, departments, and regions.
- Brand consistency: Access to approved, on-brand imagery allows your teams to tell a cohesive and accurate story across customer touchpoints.
- Workflow efficiency: Self-service access eliminates bottlenecks around content retrieval and distribution.
- Analytics: Tools that track asset usage can provide insights into the value of certain images.
Although functionality varies across different image management software, many have the capacity to manage content throughout its lifecycle — from creation to archival. This could include workflow tools for managing the review and approval process, or templates to customize assets to appeal to specific audiences. And some systems have the ability to integrate with other tools across a marketing technology (martech) stack, so that assets can be seamlessly shared between platforms.
Best practices for managing images
Purchasing and installing image management software can be a significant investment of both time and money. Here are some best practices to help maximize its value.
- Have a dedicated system administrator: Managing content currency and user access to an image collection is an ongoing job. Designating an administrator will help users trust that the system is their go-to source for imagery.
- Develop process documents: Guidelines for administering image management software are critical. This includes protocols for metadata creation, a policy for archiving expired assets, and a governance document to outline access and sharing privileges for different user roles.
- Offer ongoing training: Image collections are usually dynamic databases that change with time. Ensuring that all stakeholders understand how to use the software, and are aware of system changes, is important in maintaining user engagement.
- Consider integrations: Integrating your image tools like Adobe Creative Cloud can create workflow efficiencies and ensure content consistency across all of your marketing tools. Reviewing commonly used applications will help identify integration opportunities.
- Control your vocabulary: Search is only as good as your metadata, so it needs to be accurate. Using controlled vocabulary fields will help ensure keyword consistency no matter who uploads assets.
Every brand that wants to deliver excellent customer experiences needs to practice image management. With a central location for your visual assets you can make sure the right images are always accessible to people and systems around the world. This speeds up work across your company, increases brand consistency, and leads to more positive customer interactions.
DAM software plays a central role in putting all of those benefits within reach. Once you have your digital assets organized, your business can do everything else faster. If you want to see how our DAM solution, Acquia DAM (Widen), can help you take control of your image management, request, watch, or click through a demo today.
Note: This article was originally published on Widen.com.