5 Practices for the Brand Marketer to Creative Automation

Repurposing content has long been a strategy for brand marketers. It makes sense for many creative and compliance reasons. Unfortunately, business units often work in content silos, leading to needless reinvention and rework of content that merits a broader audience. Result: Missed opportunities to multiply project bandwidth and save money.

5 Practices for the Brand Marketer to Creative Automation

A solution that’s gained rapid traction with creative directors, content leads, and brand managers is digital asset management (DAM). The technology allows brand leaders to leapfrog traditional creative workflow processes with automation routines that transform the production process with demonstrable speed, efficiency, quality, and effectiveness. This article examines how and why DAM methods are at the heart of 2100+ leading brands, helping them:

  • Automate time-consuming tasks; work in parallel with designers; and repurpose content with flair and ease.
  • Deliver more content with less stress and worry to diverse stakeholders.
  • Democratizing content in ways that lead to improved brand projection and communication effectiveness.

Content Summary

Practice #1: Make reusing content your new mantra
Practice #2: Help your content flow faster with creative automation
Practice #3: Dynamically mix and match cont
Practice #4: Practice the art of using templates
Practice #5: Find your marketing nirvana by creating one iteration with limitless variations

The timelines are tight. There are a million requests for creative content. And no one can go to market without the assets the creative team is busy trying to crank out.

And it’s not just that one asset for the campaign, either. It’s six variations across five personas and seven markets.

No pressure.

Just when you thought the pace of creating content couldn’t get any faster—it has.

To all of you overwhelmed, stressed-out marketers, we say: inhale deeply and exhale. You’ve got this.

Managing and creating content may feel like you’re doing the Tripod Headstand while juggling six different balls with your toes—which is anything but relaxing. But even with the pressure to create content constantly—it doesn’t have to be so complicated or draining.

There are ways to simplify, standardize, and streamline your processes that will make it easier and faster to produce high-quality digital media. And we’re about to teach them to you. This way, you can spend less time holding your breath wondering if you can really manage your creative requests and spend more time breathing deeply and thinking strategically about how the content you do create can drive better results.

Ready to find your inner marketing zen? Keep reading for five guided practices that will have you on your way to producing consistent on-brand content without losing your chill.

  • 64% of marketers say they don’t have enough resources or bandwidth to execute the amount of content they need to.
  • 58% of marketers say they planned to create at least 25% or more content than the past year.
  • 32% of marketers say they need to find ways to create content more efficiently and faster.

Practice #1: Make reusing content your new mantra

If you’ve tied yourself and your team in knots trying to get new content out the door consistently—you already know that creating content from scratch is a time-consuming and painful process.

Consider this: more than half of brands (53%) say it takes them weeks to create a simple email. And putting together an entire campaign to promote a piece of content takes even longer—possibly up to 45 days.

But what if you didn’t have to create every piece of content from scratch?

Updating and repurposing content, according to 61% of marketers, is one of the most efficient strategies for content marketing initiatives. But, only about one-third of marketers consistently audit their content for reuse.

One reason content marketing teams currently don’t reuse digital media as much as they could is because they simply don’t know what content they have. This is especially true when there are different marketing functions within an organization. The social media team may create content that could be used by the email team, but each is creating, storing, and publishing their content in silos. This type of fragmented approach to content creation can lead to a duplication of effort because no one knows what other content is available for reuse or where to find it.

61% of marketers say updating or repurposing content is one of the most efficient strategies for content marketing initiatives.

LET A DAM ENLIGHTEN YOUR PATH TO FINDING THE RIGHT CONTENT

A simple way to transcend this problem of “hidden content” is by creating a centralized and consistent way to store and manage your digital media, such as with a digital asset management (DAM) tool. Think of a DAM like your heart chakra, but for your brand’s content.

When you use a DAM, you’ll reduce your stress by saving time searching for content. Not only will all your content be in a single central place, but through the use of metadata and tagging, you’ll also no longer have to open and close files searching for the right one. Instead, you can use metadata and filters to find exactly the type of digital media you need—whether that’s a photo of a family on a beach or copy around the recent launch of a new product.

And, as an added bonus, using a DAM also improves brand governance by improving the version control process and making it easier to find and follow brand guidelines. In the DAM, because files are all easily accessible and stored in a centralized place, it’s easy to find the correct version and the most recent brand guidelines—even for distributed teams.

How’s that for helping you achieve content Ananda—or a perfect state of content bliss?

“[DAM] has provided us with a place to visually see our vast array of assets, increasing their usage and, in turn, their ROI per use. We are also more easily able to share assets internally to support our global team and third parties such as retailers and media.” – Mons Royale, A New Zealand performance clothing company

Practice #2: Help your content flow faster with creative automation

Just like a good yoga flow can help produce energetic and healing movement in your body, the use of automation in your content creation process can help move the flow of your content along much faster.

While the current process for producing creative assets is linear—each step is done by a single person and then passed on to the next person—there’s a more fluid way to handle content creation. Instead of the copywriter writing the copy, then the designer crafting the design and so on, which creates a bottleneck in the overall marketing workflow, there are now ways to move the creative process along in a more flow-like manner.

ADD MORE AGILITY WITH AUTOMATION

Automation has already come to so many parts of marketing (think dynamic ad buying and email automation), so why not creative too? Creative automation, which is a relatively new term in the industry, is designed to help speed the creative process by adding automation where possible to eliminate manual, time-consuming, and repetitive tasks. This, in turn, helps you be more flexible and agile in producing content.

“Creative automation provides a more agile process where a lot of stakeholders can work in parallel on their own parts. Then through automation, all those parts of the creative process can all be brought together,” says Maarten Boon, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Bynder.

In the next few guided practices, we’ll dive deeper into different types of creative automation tools you can use to do this, but in this practice, the important thing to recognize is that there is a better, faster way to create digital media— one that doesn’t take away from the creative process itself. Instead, by using automation within the creative process, you’ll be able to shorten timelines, have more agility to make changes as needed, and have less dependency on creative specialists. And the best part? Creative automation doesn’t just give marketers more time to create—it lets them focus on more strategic and creative work.

Now, that’s something to meditate on!

Practice #3: Dynamically mix and match cont

There’s a reason that yoga infuses its practice of calm with dynamic movement—dynamism creates an important energy in our body. Similarly, by breaking content into small pieces that can be dynamically mixed and matched for maximum flexibility, you can greatly speed the content creation process. And this is exactly why many analysts and other content management experts see content creation heading toward a more dynamic approach.

As the consultancy McKinsey noted recently, “a company has to move away from traditional design processes, which develop mostly bespoke content, and instead look to operating a content factory. Content—art, photos, copy, videos, emails, banners, web and app components, and even components for addressable nondigital channels—must be broken into modular components, for mixing and matching in dynamically populated templates to be delivered in multiple-form factors on the fly.”

“A company has to move away from traditional design processes, which develop mostly bespoke content, and instead look to operating a content factory.” – McKinsey

MIX AND MATCH YOUR CONTENT PRESETS FOR GREATER FLEXIBILITY

By using a DAM, which allows you to mix and match content fragments to build more content faster, you are also able to create more types of content on the fly. One way to do this is with presets, which are fragments of content that are designed within the brand identity for frequent reuse and then stored in the DAM. For example, you might create presets for different calls to action that can be used in social media posts or ads or a variety of logo presets. Or you might create different video intros and outros or scenes so that marketers can then quickly drag and drop these video presets into the video they’re creating.

“The idea with presets is that you build a lot of them,” says Boon. “Then when you want to create new content, you can pick five or six presets and it can help you with 90% of the work that you need to do.”

“The idea with presets is that you build a lot of them. Then when you want to create new content, you can pick five or six presets and it can help you with 90% of the work that you need to do.” – Maarten Boon, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Bynder

Practice #4: Practice the art of using templates

Since we’re way past the dark ages, there’s no reason to keep recreating the wheel, but so many marketers do it anyway when it comes to creating content. Templates, however, eliminate the need to continually redo certain types of work. Instead, they give designers the ability to turn design files for social media, banner ads, and other on-brand digital content into editable brand templates that can be reused by anyone—yes, even marketers like you.

Because templates allow the designers to lock down different layers of the template, they also help ensure brand consistency. Go ahead and let out a big sigh of relief. You now have even less to worry about.

It’s exactly how Schroders, a multinational asset management firm, felt when it learned about the benefits of using templates. At the time, the company was struggling with brand consistency in its social media content production across countries.

“It didn’t look great. Most of the photography used on social media was not on brand and engagement wasn’t consistent,” says Farzana Ali, Creative Services Manager at Schroders.

However, by using templates, Schroders was able to really turn around their social media campaigns. In fact, they recently were awarded “best use of social media” from Investment Weeks Investment and Marketing Innovation Awards.

“[Templates] allow our creative team to focus on the design and build of the templates and empowers our employees across markets to easily build localized content that’s on-brand using the digital templates to improve the overall look of our social media pages,” says Ali.

Yeah, Schroders is feeling a bit like a template guru—but hey, they’ve earned it.

Practice #5: Find your marketing nirvana by creating one iteration with limitless variations

One of the biggest time-sucks in the content creation process is reformatting content for different channels and audiences. Wouldn’t it be like reaching nirvana if you didn’t have to spend hours on this manual and repetitive task?

Fortunately, this is an area that’s also perfect for applying creative automation.

“It’s not like marketers need thousands of unique assets. You’ll have 95 variations that are 95% the same and only differ in very narrow and consistent ways,” says Andrew Hally, CMO at Bynder.

Whether it’s the need to localize content by translating it into ten different languages, reformat the size of images for ads or different channels, or upload a high-volume of images or videos to multiple channels, creative automation tools can save a significant amount of time by automating the process so you don’t have to reformat or upload assets manually one by one.

“It’s not like marketers need thousands of unique assets. You’ll have 95 variations that are 95% the same and only differ in very narrow and consistent ways.” – Andrew Hally, CMO at Bynder

Sound like nirvana? It did to Schroders. Which is why they have been using creative automation tools within their DAM to easily deploy global campaigns that require localization of assets for sixty-two websites.

“The process also simplifies communication between seventeen markets and the external agencies as well as our translation, digital, and creative teams,” says Ali.

TRANSCEND YOUR CONTENT STRESS

A digital asset management system does much more than just store your creative assets—it can make the entire content creation and management process much easier and faster. By tapping into the power of technology, you can automate routine, timeconsuming tasks; work in parallel with creative designers; and reuse content in ways that are effective and on-brand while also drastically speeding up the content creation process. All of this means you can get more content out the door with a lot less stress—which frees up more of your time for the things that matter like creativity and other truly strategic work.

Now, inhale and exhale. See, we told you, you’ve got this.