Blog header image: Introduction to Multi-DAM article.
Brand Management

Introduction to Multi-DAM

April 19, 2023 10 minute read
Multi-DAM increases flexibility, scale, and geographical relevance for organizations with multiple business units, brands, and international markets.
Blog header image: Introduction to Multi-DAM article.

In today's many-channeled digital landscape, organizations are challenged to efficiently manage and distribute their digital assets. While some companies opt for a single digital asset management (DAM) instance, others choose a multi-DAM approach. This involves using multiple DAM sites to cater to specific brand requirements, asset types, workflow requirements, and geographical locations.

Multi-DAM works best for organizations with multiple business units, divisions, brands, or international locations that operate autonomously and have unique asset management needs. Your teams want to invest in separate environments to alleviate governance conflicts and to allow all parties to grow independently. But they also need to leverage assets and metadata across systems. A multi-instance DAM approach meets everyone’s unique set of use cases and allows companies to sync metadata and assets across independently-operated DAM instances.

That’s why a multi-DAM approach fits organizations with multiple brands or stakeholders who all need DAM functionality but have unique requirements that don’t align.

What is multi-DAM?

Multi-DAM is a technique of leveraging multiple instances of a digital asset management (DAM) platform. A multi-DAM approach supports independent groups of a common parent organization by providing them with separate DAM sites that can be integrated or kept separate. Teams adopt this structure for its flexibility to organize, manage, and brand for the independent business cases.

Multi-DAM delivers flexibility for companies — especially those that manage many brands — that still want to maintain security, dedicate hardware resources (processing power and/or storage) according to changing needs, and minimize redundant tools. Even when using separate instances of a DAM site, teams who use the same software across business units can share training resources and admin insights, which reduces redundant work. It also makes onboarding easier when a team member transfers internally or across brands. 

While there are many different uses for DAM across industries and markets, there are common reasons why companies choose a multi-DAM approach. 

Common multi-DAM scenarios

Organizations realize they need multi-DAM for everything from managing multiple brands to accommodating unique workflows across their business units. You might find that your need for a multi-instance DAM solution is purely structural based on org charts and budgets, or it could come from the content demands of specific user experiences. Here are common scenarios that lead companies to choose multi-DAM along with real life examples.

1. Multi-branded

Sure, you can have multiple brands and still use a single DAM site. But multi-DAM becomes crucial when each of those brands are autonomous and have separate admin teams, goals, workflows, and branding. Your brands might even be competitors if your parent company is large enough. Multi-DAM is the recommended approach whenever sharing one DAM instance becomes too complicated.

Let’s take Shiseido Company Limited as an example. They started to bring four brands and one parent entity into one DAM. But branding conflicts were an immediate obstacle. One of the brands, Drunk Elephant, wanted Brand Portals, but Shiseido Professionals did not. How did they decide to add this functionality? 

And NARS needed more than 100 user seats, while Cle de Peau only needed about 50. Plus, each brand wanted to use share links but didn’t want “Shiseido” listed in the URL; they wanted their own brand name to appear instead. Also, how do they split up the invoice payments fairly and efficiently?

They quickly realized they needed multiple DAM sites to manage their current brands and to remain scalable when they need to add more in the future. 

2. Structural

Sometimes separate teams, departments, and business units operate independently of one another. This is common amongst higher education organizations. For example, the University of Pennsylvania has multiple entities that need DAM – Wharton School of Business, Penn Carey Law School, and Graduate School of Education (GSE).

The Wharton School of Business and Penn Carey Law School are both run by their respective departments. Both are curriculum-focused, but those curricula and personnel leverage completely different areas of content. GSE has an entirely different scope of DAM requirements, because it isn’t curriculum-focused but more administrative in nature. 

Because their admin teams, goals, end users, and content are all so unique, UPenn decided that it was more natural and accurate to use a multi-DAM approach. That way, their autonomous groups can implement a DAM site independently and focus their DAM strategies on their own use cases.

3. Workflow 

Another prevalent reason teams opt for multi-DAM is workflow and the needs of internal versus external assets. Some companies work a lot with external-facing assets, and those come with completely different requirements, administration, and processes than internal digital assets. 

An Acquia DAM customer, a global leader in eyecare, already used their DAM platform for internal content but they needed to make a significant portion of their content available to external customers. Two different teams with totally different use cases manage internal and external content with undesirable consequences if the wrong assets are shared. To circumvent unwanted disasters, they decided on a multi-DAM approach for scalability and to increase efficiency for both unique workflows and end users.

While the global DAM admin remained the same for both instances, having individual DAM sites for internal and external facing content — with specialized super users for each — simplified efforts toward their new company initiative. And, they can leverage a DAM-to-DAM sync for any assets that can be used as part of both workflows, which cuts down on redundant admin work. 

4. User experience

One of the main reasons companies use a DAM system is to create a consistent and positive user experience across all channels. Customers need to be able to find your content, understand it, and relate to it no matter what channel they’re in. When you have multiple brands, the variety of digital assets and their applied context quickly multiplies beyond management in a single DAM instance. 

Take the example of CNH Industrial America, LLC, a multi-brand organization. Each brand focuses on related but unique services. And each one has its own growth plans, admin teams, and users that involve different combinations of dealers, agency partners, admins, and marketing teams. One DAM instance simply wasn’t scalable with all the competing governance and use case needs. 

Splitting their brands into a multi-DAM structure enabled CNH to scale its individual brand strategies across four different libraries – and add more brands as needed. As a result, dealers are less confused, agency partners are more effective, and the admin and marketing teams can focus more on their jobs and less on locating content and mitigating complaints. 

Benefits of multi-DAM configuration

The main benefits of multi-DAM come from the capability to keep all configurations, workflows, and options independent. That means you can meet the unique needs of different business units, divisions, or brands with each DAM instance. This allows your organization to scale quickly without having to find global DAM rules and formats that work for disparate workflows and end users. 

While each DAM instance meets the individual customer experience and business needs (budgeting, resource management, strategic goals, etc.), you can still sync assets and metadata between DAM instances when content overlaps. This creates operational flexibility while decreasing redundancy and increasing reliability – both crucial elements for any global organization. Other key benefits include: 

Geographic adaptability
A multi-DAM approach enables organizations to store and manage digital assets in accordance with regional regulations, language requirements, and other location-specific considerations. This ensures compliance, facilitates smoother operations across territories, and makes it easier to deliver relevant content based on location.

Security and independence
A DAM system already comes with many security features, but when taking a multi-DAM approach, teams also gain a sense of security internally knowing that they can set up their own processes and workflows that another team can’t alter. The independence teams have by investing in their own site also means that, if another brand or department shifts priorities or funding, each DAM instance can be reviewed and decided on individually instead of being tied to competing stakeholders. 

Specialized functionality
By using different DAM sites for specific asset types or use cases, you can tune each DAM instance to the workflow demands and end-customer needs of each business. One of your brands might need the ability to handle large amounts of sizable image files (like 360º photography), while others won’t need that much storage. 

Some business units can invest in more users for a DAM instance while others need way less. This helps you optimize function and cost of digital asset management at your organization. 

Is multi-DAM right for me?

To see if a multi-DAM approach is right for you, ask yourself a few more questions.

  1. Do you feel like you have too many cooks in your DAM kitchen?
  2. Are assets released/deleted/edited by non-owners?
  3. Do share links point to another brand identity?
  4. Do you have trouble reconciling your usage and subscription invoices among multiple entities? 
  5. Have requests from other teams/brands/business units/divisions to share your DAM site brought you to a crossroads in your growth plans, making you feel like you need to decide whether your DAM identity will have to change or remain as it was originally intended?  
  6. Do you feel like you need a refresher on what you have, how you’re using it, and how you could be using it?

If you’re more visual, this chart might help.


Common Admin team?

Shared growth trajectory?

Share invoices and budget?

Shared branding?

OK to share DAM site URL?

Multi-branded: Multiple brands with separate brand guidelines

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Structural: Separate departments, business units, regions

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Workflow: Internal- vs external-facing content

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

User experience: Established DAM ingesting new teams

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

Yes / No

If you answered yes to some or most of these questions, multi-DAM will likely help you save time and money, as well as produce better results. But it’s also important to note that not every “yes” holds equal weight. For instance, if you want your share links to include a specific brand name that’s different from the parent company, the only way to achieve this is with a separate DAM instance. So it’s important to understand what you need and why so that you can have those conversations with your DAM vendor when the time comes. 

Getting started

Multi-DAM increases flexibility, scale, and geographical relevance for organizations with multiple business units, divisions, brands, and international locations. You might think you can manage everything on one DAM instance but quickly find out that all the unique needs, use cases, and budgets you have require their own. 

With a multi-DAM strategy in place you can get the specialized functionality your teams need to create better customer experiences, build brand consistency, and streamline content workflows from end to end. 

Acquia DAM (Widen) gives you multi-DAM capabilities that come with flexible governance, easy automation, and scale for growth out-of-the-box. It helps you simplify how your content gets to market and deliver compelling digital experiences for as many brands or teams as you need. To learn more, take a tour of our DAM solution or request, watch, or click through a demo today.

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