DAM Simple Imaging
While the Internet has made personal and business communications faster, it's also made life more complicated for publishers, catalogers, magazines, ad agencies, and corporate graphics departments.
With everyone from Web designers to CEOs to printers requiring images in different formats for different purposes, corporate publishers are finding it hard to enforce company and brand identities.
Logos and other brand images featured on letterheads and envelopes should match those used on signage, magazine ads, the Web, HTML e-mails, presentations, billboards, other printed materials, and television.
Usually, this requires organizations to manage dozens of digital graphic files for each corporate logo or brand image. Every logo, product photo, box shot, etc., has to be duplicated and stored in multiple resolutions, to meet varying cross-media display requirements.
For example, a master magazine-quality image might be stored as a high-resolution EPS or TIFF file, at 150 to 300 dpi or greater. Derivative images for the CD-ROMs and the Web at 75 to 150 dpi, letterheads or brochures at 300 dpi and up, and newspaper ads at 85 dpi must also be on hand.
The problem gets worse for organizations such as retailers. They have to meet logo requirements for thousands of suppliers' brands featured in magazine ads, catalogs, e-commerce sites, e-mail newsletters, newspaper flyers, in-store hand-outs, and so on.
Making sure published works use the right image resolution is only part of the problem. Color correction and other conversion parameters must be enforced across all versions of an image.
Plus, image files must be easy to access, update, and save countless image versions, without having to worry about version control. It's enough to make any brand manager reach for the aspirin.
"The most significant thing with brand management is consistency," says Peter Burmeister, CEO of Metropolitan Leadership Strategies, in Jersey City, N.J. "Publishers, advertisers, corporations ... they all have valuable digital assets that are part and parcel to their business. An image originally used in print can, technically, be used equally well on TV, the Web, or DVD. But, unfortunately, many corporate publishers are forced to reinvent the graphics wheel every time they move a brand to a new medium."
ONE IMAGE, MANY FORMATS
One solution gaining favor among corporate publishers and ad agencies is Xinet's FullPress and WebNative product duo. These tools allow companies to specify and lock-in digital images, then automatically repurpose these graphic assets on the fly, through a variety of media channels.
This can save publishers, advertisers, and corporations time and money, Xinet officials say. "The demand for on-the-fly image repurposing and delivery is growing as rapidly as deployment time is shrinking, says Scott Seebass, CEO of Xinet Inc., in Berkeley, Calif. "Those who don't have this capability risk losing their edge to competitors who can respond more quickly."
A prepress server package, FullPress provides client/server file sharing, print spooling with OPI support, PDF generation, and other prepress workflow tools.
Xinet's WebNative is the company's digital asset management solution. It extends Xinet's FullPress local workflow into a wide-area workflow, using a standard Internet connection. Also available is Xinet's WebNative Venture, which adds an enterprise SQL database.
When FullPress and WebNative are used together, publishers can easily repurpose a single master image into different file formats for a variety of media channels. Users first define and store corporate-approved conversion parameters for future graphics repurposing.
Then anyone in need of art can simply drop images into an online "basket", select a conversion profile, and download the resulting repurposed images. Images can be transferred securely over the public Internet or private intranet. They arrive in the appropriate colorspace, image format, and resolution for the targeted output media.
"We store one approved master image from a client," says Dan DeBartolo, VP of marketing services at Ryan Partnership, a $100 million advertising agency headquartered in Wilton, Conn., with nine U.S. offices. "We can pull that image out as an EPS, a JPEG, a TIFF, depending on the project requirements. It's just one original image that we have to manage."
DeBartolo's organization is using custom image repurposing with projects for high-profile, demanding clients, such as Pillsbury, Motorola, Heineken, Subway Restaurants, and Coca-Cola. With leading consumer and B2B marketers such as these, brand management is a top priority.
So is cost management, especially today. Manually repurposing clients' images can quickly inflate billable hours. Automatically repurposing master images for ads, Web sites, presentations, and collateral materials is not only saving Ryan Partnership's busy agency time. It's also saving clients money.
"From an agency standpoint, custom image generation is a huge time saver, because repurposing can be done quickly and easily," DeBartolo says. "We only have to put one image up. If we need it for a [print] ad, it can be pulled down as a high-resolution EPS. If we need the image for a PowerPoint presentation, it can be pulled down as a 72 dpi RGB JPEG."
The image size can be changed on the fly, without detrimental visual effects. "You don't have to open it up, resize it, proof it, and save it," DeBartolo says. "We can make alternative images on demand, and not have to maintain different resolutions or file formats on the server. We just deal with the original [master] image."
It's a simplified, automated process that's clicking with the country's top computer retailer, CompUSA. Most of the company's advertising, such as newspaper ads, inserts, in-store point of purchase displays, and images for the company's online store are produced at CompUSA's Dallas headquarters.
There the advertising and marketing department is responsible for supervising not only CompUSA's brands, but upholding the brand management requirements for some 85,000 products from hundreds of vendors, across 225 stores in 90 markets.
Xinet's FullPress and WebNative duo have become the lynchpin of CompUSA's advertising and merchandising departments. Company officials say that, since adopting the products, they've been able to maintain absolute accuracy of images and logos—and are saving thousands of dollars in production time.
"We're saving hundreds of hours a year," says Greg Weaver, CompUSA's advertising systems administrator. "The dollar savings are significant. Selecting the right image for an advertisement used to involve someone finding literally all the available images of a product, and then e-mailing JPEGs to the appropriate parties until the correct image was approved. We were getting overwhelmed by the amount of work and sheer manpower it required."
The company had a choice: figure out a way to streamline the workflow, or risk hitting the breaking point. After an 11-month evaluation that ultimately involved five competing workflow and DAM solutions, CompUSA chose Xinet's FullPress and WebNative.
Now the company's images are automatically repurposed. Designers can do in seconds what used to take minutes or even hours. "Now designers can focus on their work, and prepress can concentrate on production instead, of spending time duplicating images in different file formats," Weaver says.
When the merchandising department needs an image, they simply look it up and retrieve it using WebNative. This makes for truly streamlined image management workflow.
"A lot of branding control is based on workflow," Weaver says. "Having a system like [Xinet's], where your workflow is more efficient and everyone has more time, helps bring control of branding back into the department."
Direct marketing agency Brann Worldwide is using automated image repurposing two ways. They're giving senior managers and 15 offices worldwide browser-based access to image libraries. And they're giving their Web developers the flexibility to grab and reuse any image in any format they need.
Brann's senior managers constantly need images for PowerPoint presentations. Likewise, the firm's programmers regularly request long lists of files for use on Web development projects.
"That took us away from the billing we wanted to do," says Kenny Kirsch, VP and director of graphic services and technologies at Brann Worldwide, in Wilton, Conn. "It took us forever, and killed studio hours, because the artists had to manually prepare the art for the executives and [Web developers]."
Now the executives and programmers can manage the images themselves. "They get the logo or the physical piece, get a JPEG of it, crop it, and do whatever they want with it." Kirsch says. "Custom image repurposing is a phenomenal asset, because it takes the grunt work out of repurposing imagery and asset duplicating."
Brann is owned by Havas Advertising, the world's fifth largest advertising agency. Clients include IBM, Peugeot, and Guinness.
In a deadline-driven business where every minute counts, automated image repurposing gives publishers, advertising agencies, and in-house corporate graphics departments a true creative edge.
Ariel Jacobs is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.