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Brand Portal versus Enterprise DAM: Understanding the differences

There are a lot of seemingly similar technologies that help you manage your marketing assets and brand content. It can be hard to choose the right system for your specific needs – especially given the overlapping features, synonyms and acronyms. We take a closer look at the attributes of a brand portal and a digital asset management solution, and identify the best use cases for each.

DAM versus brand portal: A rose by any other name?*

Branding, marketing and sales are increasingly content and media driven. Little surprise then that multiple technologies have evolved to manage this. However, when looking for a solution, business decision makers often wonder what real differences there are behind a bewildering array of category names.

* A rose by any other name

A digital asset management system (DAM) is an essential solution for any brand or enterprise that needs to keep up with consumers’ brand content demands. With a DAM, brands can easily store, organize, search, manage, distribute and analyze all of their digital assets, whilst improving compliance and enhancing brand experiences across all channels.

A brand portal, or brand center, is a subset of what digital asset management can achieve. While an enterprise DAM incorporates all digital assets, a brand portal is only concerned with assets that are employed for branding and marketing objectives. It is a hub for centralizing and sharing all elements concerning your brand identity: logos, fonts, guidelines, etc. 

Brand portals are often very focused on content editorialization and providing a slick interface.

When do I need a brand portal and when do I need a DAM (digital asset management) solution?

A DAM and a brand center are both in essence asset repositories that function in a self service fashion. However, there are differences between each. 

To determine which one is right for you, ask yourself the following questions to avoid limitations or hidden costs down the line:

What business outcomes are you looking to achieve?

A good brand portal ensures that marketing teams can easily develop and manage their brand. It increases understanding and engagement around your brand.

However, a DAM can offer much more than a portal solution for simple brand management and publishing use cases. 

An enterprise DAM is designed for global, distributed organizations with large volumes of diverse online and offline content. A DAM’s capabilities span both high-performance, mission-critical asset delivery in digital and commerce operations and publishing (distributed marketing, controlled template-based personalization or web-to-print, and product packaging localization) in the offline realm.

A DAM is modular and highly scalable and can be tailored to the most complex and demanding of business and technical environments. With a key role in the content delivery process, DAMs are also able to provide actual media consumption metrics that are invaluable in gaining customer insight and in orienting content production.

Ultimately, a DAM aims to support the customer experience and to improve selling – taking it way beyond the capabilities of a “brand center”.

How complex are your workflows?

A brand center encompasses fairly simple collaboration and validation workflows that do not typically involve many different roles within the company.

A DAM is able to manage far more complex workflows. 

Within the DAM, different users have different roles and responsibilities and user permissions and workflows must reflect this.

A DAM enforces global content management and branding processes via customizable editing and approval workflows. Marketing teams gain granular control of how content is used and distributed across all channels and touchpoints.

A DAM’s collaborative workflows are designed for organization-wide adoption, distributed marketing scenarios. Furthermore, it is easy to involve legal, risk and compliance managers in the content validation process.

With a DAM, marketing teams can easily enforce communication embargoes and segment assets and content by localization, language and market.

Who needs to use the system?

Brand Portals are primarily designed to accommodate brand marketing teams and a baseline of casual users across a limited number of roles. Users don’t necessarily require any specific training for using the platform. They have all the tools and resources they need to get their job done in one place.

In terms of usability, DAMs also include streamlined search capabilities and sophisticated indexing strategies that harness AI to make casual, self-service access easy – and even more powerful! They are equally designed to serve the needs of specialist users, such as DAM librarians and professional taxonomists.  

In terms of organizational scale, DAMs can implement sophisticated content access permissions, user provisioning and workflows without limitation in size or in scope.

Make sure you never run out of road

Ultimately, the difference between Branding Automation and Enterprise DAM is less than one of a software category definition but a continuum of capabilities.

From one standpoint, Branding Automation offers the promise of turnkey, simplified brand portals and simple workflows. From another, an Enterprise DAM is designed to do all of this and more. 

The bottom line: Enterprise DAM technology is designed to be flexible enough to enable you to get started with more simple brand center deployments. The opposite is certainly not true.

Whatever use case you need to address first, make sure you have room to grow without hidden cost and effort. Be sure your chosen solution and implementation partner can still serve you when you need to extend your deployment, scale or scope.

Do you have a Digital Asset Management RFP to prepare?


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