Images are an integral part of a company’s brand identity. Yet, creating and managing a brand image library is often considered a low-priority, tactical element in brand management. A robust brand image library ensures brand consistency because it is a one-stop shop for employees for approved images aligned with the company’s brand strategy.
A brand image library is not just a place to store your brand assets; it serves as a convenient tool in the curation and management of the assets efficiently and securely for all your marketing and branding activities.
A brand image library is a gatekeeper to safeguard your digital assets from being misused. It cleans up duplicates and tracks every version ensuring it is your single source of truth for approved content. It is quick and easy to find an asset in a brand library because it is made ‘searchable’ through categorization, tagging, and archival. It provides an enterprise-wide platform for self-serve access and collaboration.
The scope of a brand image library is not limited to images but any asset that helps with visual identity. So, a typical library may contain
- Digital pictures,
- Marketing collateral,
- Logos, and
- Other new-age formats, such as 3D holograms
As a business expands and the number of digital assets grows, a brand image library is your best bet to scale up to meet your needs.
We recommend the following tips and best practices when setting up a brand image library:
1. Identify an image library software for centralized storage
The first step to creating a brand image library is to identify an image library software compatible with your existing MarTech stack. The software should preferably be a cloud-based application for its ability to scale up. It should provide a centralized location to store, organize, manage, and distribute images.
Look for these must-have features when selecting one:
A reliable image library software must be able to store and provide access to multiple images and video file formats. Further, it should also be able to sync with various media sources, including cloud storage servers, CMS, PIM, etc.
Organization and management
Bulk uploading and downloading, version control, image editing, folder categorization, file structuring, access control, usage analytics, archival policies, and auto-notifications.
Search and retrieval
A wide range of advanced media search queries, including semantic, visual, or natural language search.
Sharing and security
Multi-factor authentication, role-based access management, and regulatory compliance. Secure links and customized portals for sharing assets with external stakeholders. Rights management tools to protect copyrighted assets and automatic archival to safeguard non-compliant or outdated assets.
2. Design a logical folder structure
Follow the given steps to create a logical structure based on purpose, category, and accessibility to ensure users find what they are looking for, in the shortest time, with minimum effort:
Understand your user
Find the users’ challenges when searching for assets. Gather data around things, such as the approach to search or the kind of files shared the most. The information gathered will help you create the appropriate asset groupings, define the relevant metadata, and create the training required for each user group.
Categorize and label the assets
Bucket similar images in the branding library depending on how your users search for digital assets. Find relevant associations between assets to create intuitive groups.
Once you decide on the categories, name them per the taxonomy set up by your content or digital asset management team. A taxonomy sets the vocabulary for your content and creates standardization in how you describe your digital assets. This helps users find the assets faster.
Provide the shortest path to discovery
Your folder structure should allow users to find the asset they are looking for with the minimum number of clicks. The trick is to balance the number of folders and sub-folders versus the user navigation time.
3. Audit the current digital asset inventory
A good starting point to populate the brand image library is to create an inventory of existing digital assets and capture their details, such as creation date, location, and user details, from various repositories. Next, evaluate your business needs.
Deliberate between creating custom photographs that are expensive versus the more generic but cheaper stock images. An audit leads to cleaning redundant assets, consolidating different storage, and rethinking the brand imagery strategy.
4. Define file naming conventions
File names should be such that a user can infer the file content without opening it. Documentation of organization-wide naming conventions ensures standardized, consistent names—meaningful, short, and intuitive names tailored for human understanding work very well.
File naming conventions must consider how users search for a file to create a glossary of standard terms, define the metadata, and lay down version numbering norms.
5. Use metadata to label and categorize images
Metadata is data about data. It provides information about the images in your library, making it easy to identify them. Suppose you want a digital image to add to an HR presentation deck; you would use keywords like employees or staff to get a relevant picture. If the metadata uses these keywords, it will help the user discover the image faster.
Metadata answers questions such as when, why, by whom, what, how, and where in context to the image. So, you could have the creation date, owner name, file format, purpose, location, and more. Using consistent rules for metadata helps in standardization and ease of use. Auto-tagging software can efficiently add metadata tags by using image recognition. Further, it is also easier to transform images if they have well-defined metadata information.
6. Owned, paid, and royalty-free images are to be stored separately
While most businesses need different images for marketing and branding activities, they do not always hire photographers or graphic designers to create the assets. At the same time, downloading images directly from the internet may be risky as those images may be copyrighted or not align with your business needs.
Investing in royalty-free images is worth it, as most paid resources offer a wide range of professional, unique images. When you pay for these images, you gain the right to use them multiple times in different channels. Yet, you do not own these images. Any modifications must be made as per the licensing rights.
You may also find competitors using the same picture in their digital properties. To avoid that, companies can invest in rights-managed images with specific usage rights defined for placement, frequency, and kind of use.
Lastly, an organization may own some of the images, such as the photographs of their products or employees.
It is best to keep these different categories of photographs in different buckets to ensure each image is used per the rights attached to it. It is recommended to have a broader process for organizing digital assets so that across the organization asset discoverability is easier and quicker.
7. Ensure version control for tracking and recall of changes
Creating variations in an image for different channels or markets is very common in businesses. Using the wrong version of an image could lead to brand erosion, legal action, or just plain embarrassment.
Enabling version control ensures edits are tracked and managed and that the changes can be reversed, if needed, by going through the file history. Version control also helps in finding the appropriate version as per requirement.
8. Provide training and support to stakeholders
A range of stakeholders - marketers, sales teams, legal departments, corporate communicators, designers, digital teams, external agencies, and partners need to use the branding library for their day-to-day jobs.
While user needs will differ, they must be trained - on the brand imagery and the company positioning. Stakeholders must understand the different brand attributes and familiarize themselves with the various use cases and usage guidelines.
Document the rules around using royalty-free images. A brand asset library should have training videos, FAQs, user-friendly navigation, and a help desk to support its users.
9. Manage accessibility
While employees can self-serve themselves on the brand asset library, they may not have access to all the images as these may be controlled as per the users' needs. For example, only the approved version of the brand logo should be available to all employees. While designers may have access to all the different versions when working on campaigns or events so that they can modify them as per the brand guidelines and requirements.
10. Periodically update the image library
Once created, a brand asset library requires maintenance and periodic review. Removing redundant images and uploading and retaining current ones will ensure it contains only the most recent, relevant, and approved images. The library must be 'owned' by a team who should be answerable for its upkeep.
Digital Asset Management System: An ideal solution for a perfect brand asset library
If you read through the attributes of a brand image library, you will observe its closely associated with the functioning of a Digital Asset Management system (DAM). After all, DAM provides an enterprise-wide unified system for organizations to store, organize and control access to digital assets.
It makes logical sense to leverage a DAM system for a brand asset library because it offers several value-adds that make it convenient and cost-effective. A DAM is configurable to external storage. It supports data backup and sync functions. AI-basde auto-tagging, AI-driven semantic search, and custom metadata provided by DAM are highly desirable. DAM can speed up downloading and uploading of assets.
It supports bulk uploading and seamless, secure distribution of assets. There are APIs and SDKs that allow bulk uploading of images from your web server. Further, it offers solid security features like access control, rights management, etc., making DAM a worthwhile investment for addressing the need for a brand image library and efficient asset management.
ImageKit offers an integrated media library with infinite storage and provides a simple user interface to upload, tag, search and manage files, images, and folders. We also have a media library widget that allows you to easily integrate the ImageKit Media Library into your CMS or any other web application. With this, you can access all the assets stored in your Media Library from your existing CMS or application.
To know more, visit us at ImageKit.io or write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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