According to branding guru, Jerry Robinson, creativity, profitability, and morale all rise when the large file in branding projects is available to everyone involved.

Robinson has been a creative director for 20 years and has managed countless projects for countless companies (Revlon, Marriot, and Citicorp Global Payment Products, to name just a few). Operationally, one thing has consistently driven him crazy: effective management of the files used to create and support brand identity. These files include advertisements, radio and TV commercials, photographs, and design assets like logos and fonts.

“If I had a dollar for the number of times clients have called with the following request,” said Robinson, “I’d be rich. It goes like this, ‘Hi Jerry. Do you remember that logo you configured for the new product roll-out last year? Would you please email it to me? I have a deadline this afternoon.'”

Robinson said that he gets ruffled for a couple of reasons. First, why doesn’t the client have a copy of the logo? The client paid for it. It’s an integral part of its brand asset base. Why isn’t the company taking better care of its brand assets? Does it leave its other assets strewn about with vendors around the country?

Secondly, someone at his firm has to stop what he is doing and hunt for the logo. That person has to put aside paying work and search for something that was last seen 18 months ago. “Of course, I have no choice but to charge the client for looking for an asset that rightfully should be in its possession, but I risk angering the client. Why, the client reasons, should I pay for something that I already paid for last year? Who can blame them?” he said.

Here’s another scenario. The printer has set an absolute deadline for an eight-page positioning brochure at eight a.m. tomorrow.

“My designer is in St. Petersburg, my writer is in Cincinnati, and my client is in Dallas,” said Robinson. “Everyone wants to make last-minute changes. The only way I can aggregate the files that the printer needs along with everyone’s input is to spend a fortune on overnight delivery fees (most likely private couriers).”

Finally, workflow can be a nightmare when part of the team is off-site, which occurs more and more with the increasing effectiveness of the internet. If more than one person is working on a file, is it the most up-to-date version? Who has access to it? Who is authorized to make changes?

Sending these files via email can spoil a nice day. According to Robinson, many if not most megafiles are too large to make it through ordinary email channels. And internal networks are hyper-security conscious and can halt a project for a day or more while someone figures out why a file cannot be accessed by the designer from his home.

The solution is online storage, a hard drive on a computer (server) with access to the internet. Anyone with access to the internet theoretically has access to the storage. In actual fact, the storage is protected by user-names and passwords.

Robinson said that in order to be effective as project management and a brand management tool, the storage must possess several features.

First, it must have a flexible access capability. Say your company is working on an annual report with Ad Agency A and a catalog with Ad Agency B. What you don’t want is for Ad Agency A’s work to get mixed up with Ad Agency B’s work. Consequently, you want Agency A to have access to certain folders and sub-folders and nothing else; same with agency B.

Second, you want both agencies to be able to upload and download into their respective folders.

Third, team members must be able to see at a glance what the files and folders are. Legible descriptions and thumbnails pictures for graphics are a must.

Fourth, the company needs a place where it can archive its brand assets where they will be easy to find and available for future projects as needed.

Finally, the system must be economical.

After exploring the market, Robinson found that some digital asset management, licensed- software solutions would work, but were very expensive, well out of the reach of most businesses. Other online storage solutions are cheaper but don’t offer the features necessary for best practices brand management.

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