When Yeats said that “love comes in at the eye,” we’re sure he wasn’t talking about visual marketing. But it’s as true for marketers today as it was for poets a century ago—the images and iconography used in your marketing are essential to making an emotional connection with customers. In fact, according to research, when images are paired with text, information retention goes from a mere 10% to an astonishing 65%.
Managing the wealth of images in your asset libraries is a labor of love in its own right. Modern marketing teams and content librarians spend hundreds of hours organizing and managing the content creation process. Images are a significant part of this process.
Fortunately, technology has risen to the challenge of creating better governance for brand images. Today, we’ll discuss the fundamentals of the image management process:
- What is image management?
- What are the benefits of image management?
- What are some examples of image management in practice?
- How does AI change the game for image management?
- What are some best practices you can use for managing images?
What is Image Management?
Image management allows companies to efficiently catalog, organize, share, and store digital images. It involves creating and managing a database of collected images and tasks such as optimizing image files for different image sizes across platforms, cropping them to specific sizes, attaching relevant information like captions and keywords for easy searching, and backing up those images for safekeeping.
A Digital Asset Management platform (DAM) is the tool best suited for the organization, storage, cataloging, and retrieval of digital media files such as image files, audio files, video clips, and other media assets.
Benefits of Image Management
Successful image management practices have a positive influence on every stage of the content lifecycle.
Centralization: Data silos are a constant obstacle to efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Centralizing images into a DAM (digital asset management) system ensures teams always have access to every asset. This helps them make the most of the assets within their libraries and removes a difficult-to-control vector of non-compliance.
Automation: Centralizing images allows the DAM system to automate certain aspects of the content creation and management process. With everything in one place, image management software automatically tags, categorizes, and contextualizes assets. It also enables review and approval automation for assets in flight.
Discoverability: A powerful DAM is a discovery engine for every type of asset. It allows team members to search for images and other file types based on a broad range of metadata, tags, and taxonomy features. It helps creators find what they need quickly and repurpose it easily.
Distribution: Once creation and approval are complete, distributing assets becomes easier with a software system in place. A DAM can deliver compliant assets to end users through a brand portal or CMS. The DAM also ensures that changes made within the asset library are automatically pushed to relevant outside systems and users.
Archiving: Sunsetting images and content pieces is an important part of the content lifecycle. A good image management solution also governs what happens to assets no longer in use. It creates a historical record of past assets and campaigns. This informs future content decisions and provides inspiration for creating new assets.
Redundancy: DAM is an important aspect of risk management for images, creating a source of truth for all images, past and present. It prevents risks associated with lost or corrupted data.
Productivity: Teams that can quickly access images work better and faster than those that can’t. A dynamic DAM system puts every asset at your fingertips and enables efficient reuse and data management without the need to manage each asset individually.
Version control: Versioning issues cost teams time and money. A centralized DAM with version control features allows teams to collaborate on assets in real time without the risk of creating duplicate assets, accidentally using out-of-date images, or using non-compliant assets in their content.
Performance measurement: DAMs that integrate with other vital marketing systems allow you to add more context to every asset over time. This includes collecting and incorporating asset performance data back into data profiles. Integrated performance information helps teams choose the most appropriate and effective assets for future content creation.
Examples of Image Management
Image management shares many of the same practices as general content management. In both cases, librarians must strike a balance between creating access to assets while ensuring their security and appropriate use.
Use the following tools to keep your images secure, compliant, and consistent with your brand:
Digital Asset Management (DAM): DAM systems provide a secure repository for storing and sharing digital assets within an organization. They also enable users to search for assets via keywords, tags, or metadata. The right DAM solution enables stronger image management and protections such as DRM and localization settings.
Brand portal: A brand portal is an online repository that serves as a hub for a company or organization’s branding efforts. It allows businesses to manage their brand presence and ensure consistent representation of the company across all user touchpoints. The purpose of a brand portal is to provide customers, clients, and other stakeholders with an engaging experience that reflects the values and identity of the brand.
Digital rights management (DRM): Digital rights management (DRM) is a form of permissions control technology used by content providers and copyright holders to restrict the usage of digital media or devices. It involves encryption, embargoing, and other copy-protection technologies to ensure that only authorized users can view or use digital content.
DRM also provides means for tracking usage data so that payment for licensing can be tracked and enforced. DRM solutions are designed to protect against unauthorized copying, distribution, sharing, playback, and other activities that violate the intended use of digital content.
Image protection: Image protection refers to measures taken to prevent unauthorized access and usage of digital images. Types of image protection include watermarking, encryption, and steganography:
- Watermarking is a technique for embedding a visible or invisible logo or text onto an image to denote the ownership of that image. Watermarks help identify if an image has been stolen or misused.
- Encryption is a process of encoding data using an algorithm so that only those with the necessary key can access or use it.
Localization: Localization is the process of customizing digital images to match the language, culture, and other characteristics of a specific region. Localization protection involves gating content from one geographic area that could be considered inappropriate or offensive in another. By localizing images, businesses optimize their marketing efforts for each target customer base and create more effective campaigns.
The Importance of Governance in Image Management
Content governance establishes and enforces rules to ensure content remains accurate, consistent, and reliable. It helps organizations maintain their brand identity by providing a framework for creating, distributing, and controlling the quality and access to digital assets. Content governance also helps organizations manage their content more effectively, making the content easier to find, access, and use.
Image Management in the Age of Generative AI
Generative AI tools such as ChatGPT and Midjourney have made it easier than ever to create image assets quickly. At the same time, these technologies make the need for DAM all the more pressing. Creating, verifying, and controlling AI-created assets will become a new requirement for DAM librarians and brand managers.
DAM will help teams manage this influx of images and related content more effectively:
- Tagging: AI-assisted auto-tagging helps categorize images on any number of parameters, creating a way to identify AI-generated assets for acceptable use requirements or restrictions.
- Compliance: A robust DAM with brand style and compliance controls will help teams ensure that every asset—whether generated by a human creator or an AI image engine—meets compliance criteria for the brand.
- Review: A DAM with workflow capabilities makes it easier to submit AI-generated assets through a review and approval process.
5 Best Practices for Image Management
Making the most of your time and your asset libraries is easier when you create repeatable best practices and policies for your organization. When crafting your policies and content governance, consider these best practices:
Use brand style guides for more consistency. Imagery and iconography play a pivotal role in the expression of your brand. Build image libraries with consistency and communication in mind to be sure images always convey consistent emotions and ideas for your target audience.
Contextualize your images with rich data. A picture is worth a thousand words, but the right taxonomy and governance further enhance its value. Strive to include consistent metadata, tags, and performance data in every asset profile to ensure it can deliver the most ROI and efficiency.
Securely back up your images. A cloud-based DAM solution ensures your assets are both secure from unauthorized access and protected from accidental destruction or distribution.
Check copyright/licensing requirements before distribution. Use DRM technology to ensure every asset used or repurposed has appropriate licenses, use conditions, and geographic parameters to prevent financial and reputational risks from asset misuse.
Use DAM software to automate and improve your image management system. The ever-expanding nature of image libraries makes automated asset management a must for fast-moving, growth-minded organizations. Selecting the right DAM saves your team hundreds of hours of manual content creation and approval. It also significantly lowers risk and improves campaign outcomes.
Automate Image Management with Aprimo
Aprimo DAM delivers all the benefits and capabilities of automated content operations within an intuitive, adaptable DAM solution. It makes content creation and lifecycle management features perfect for organizations of any size:
- Secure, cloud-based storage and distribution of assets that make the content management process easier for every internal and external stakeholder.
- Dynamic, contextualized search for fast and accurate location of assets, with integrated DRM capabilities to ensure compliance.
- Automated features that allow content governance at scale and seamless collaboration for everyone involved in the content lifecycle.
To see how Aprimo improves every aspect of the image management process, start a free trial of Aprimo DAM.