Imagine a scenario: John Food launched his food delivery service in a highly competitive and saturated market. Mr. Food decides to launch an extensive social media campaign on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to grab people’s attention through the magic of special deals. His initial plan looked like this:
- Re-tweet to get 50% off your next order of $15 or more
- Share an Instagram story to get a free Reuben at a national Deli chain
- Join the Facebook community, like, and share to get free delivery on your next order of $20 or more
It is not enough to talk about the deal. John also needed some eye candy to make people notice, bells and whistles and all. So he wound up the good ol’ marketing machine:
- Contact all participating locations and ask for food pics to use for promo shots.
- Ask Devansh from the VFX team to make cutouts from the photos.
- Devansh sends cutouts to Lily, the designer that makes static banners for Twitter and Facebook.
- Devansh also sends cutouts to Peter, the video animator, to make a more lively ad for the Instagram story.
- Lily and Peter run their designs through John to see how he likes them and also so that John can double-check that there aren’t any brand-related offenses. Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. probably won’t be happy to get featured side-by-side on a banner, so John wants to avoid these scenarios.
- After making sure that everything is fine and dandy, John is ready to publish and kickstart his food delivering empire.
Problem #1: John’s partner pulled out of the deal so he had to redo banners for a new collab. The new partner gets their beverage from Pepsi Co., not Coca-Cola but designers do not know that, so they make unusable ads.
Problem #2: Devansh and Peter work in different time zones. Devansh makes new cutouts but stores them in his private storage. He goes to sleep, Peter wakes up and can’t access the files he needs to start working so he spends hours doing nothing.
Problem #3: Lily misplaced the Twitter banner and has to start from scratch.
John Food could have easily avoided this nightmare if he had set up a proper workflow for his team to work with image and video assets. Let’s look at productivity tools, their importance, and which tools John’s team could have used to fix these issues.
Why Use Productivity Tools?
Whatever business that you’re in, the adage “time = money” remains true. Productivity tools save your time in a few ways:
- Reduce the time you spend searching for needed assets.
- Streamline inter-team communication and avoid misunderstandings.
- Make collaborative efforts straightforward and synchronous.
In a report on the impact of the productivity tools, 32% found that Slack significantly boosted team productivity. Meanwhile, 62.4% believed that such tools helped them find relevant information faster.
John’s problem wasn’t that his plan was shaky. It was his team’s inability to sync their actions that ground operations to a halt. Hence, productivity tools. They minimize clutter and overhead so that you can focus on realizing your ideas rather than furiously scrolling through 100+ letters in your inbox.
Productivity Tools for a Better Workflow Management
Slack is a business-oriented messaging application. It sorts conversations into thematic channels while also having an option to DM members of the workspace. It’s a great tool to sync up with your team and discuss anything work-related. Handy features like threads and bookmarks ensure that you never lose the exact piece of information that you need.
Pros: It is a powerful tool for any team that needs a dedicated messaging environment. Teams can also further fine-tune Slack to their needs through a myriad of app integration options. For example, John could have used Gmail integration to notify team members whenever they receive an important email.
Cons: What Slack does not do that well is images and other media files. You can search chats for them but a) you need to know what you’re looking for; b) you can’t preview how images look.
Jira is an issue tracking solution meant to streamline and bring order to workflow. The day-to-day use would be something as follows:
- The manager wants something done.
- They create a ticket in Jira and assign a person to it.
- Assignee starts working on the task, reporting progress through comments, or using Jira’s flagging feature to notify that it is ready to be reviewed.
If John used Jira to assign a task to Lily, it would have looked something like this:
Pros: Jira is a great fit for businesses that rely on iterative processes, hence it being a staple in the software development niche. The task is created -> completed -> reviewed -> missing changes are handed back to the assignee. The ticket system helps track who’s working on what and gives management an approximation of the project’s progress. Mr.Food’s company could have used something like this to keep everything orderly.
Cons: Jira’s main drawback is that it’s not a work environment per se - it’s just a reporting hub. Using it for media creation and revision is lackluster: you’ll either have to add an outbound link to storage or post pictures as comments. Neither option is convenient or organized. Jira is great at tracking your task's progress, but that’s about it.
For many, Figma is the tool when it comes to collaborative design. It is probably the best emulation of a few artists huddling together over a sheet of paper and collaboratively editing and prototyping new designs. From simple banner ads to prototypes of your breakout app’s UI/UX - Figma can handle it all.
If John’s team were to use Figma to scheme the initial design of the banner in Figma (things like positions of CTA and visual flair, choice of words, etc.), it would have looked like this:
Pros: Notice how team members draw straight on top of the prototype, adding their comments and highlighting elements they think should be changed. All prototypes can be easily stored, revised, and accessed at any point. It’s a perfect tool for collaborative design.
Cons: Figma, however, is not a place where you can easily store your assets and share them with others. John is not a designer - he prefers to be hands-off. He wants to receive the design piece straight from the presses, quickly compare it with past versions, and, if needed, send it to partners for approval and feedback. A way to manage his digital assets, if you will.
Like Jira, nTask is a project management suite designed to help your projects stay on track. Far from being birds of a feather, however, nTask offers some extra features out of the box that might prove more useful for tasks as time-sensitive as marketing.
Pros: Of particular interest are the Gantt charts that help visualize not only whether any given task is ahead/behind the schedule but also allow to clearly see the subtasks and connection between different assignments. So, if John wonders why social media ads aren't up and running, he can quickly check and see that designer has been slacking, hence creating a showstopper for the marketing team.
Cons: Cons are pretty much same as Jira's - it is good for managing projects and team's general schedule, but there are better options if your needs err more towards content production.
Pics.io is a digital asset management (DAM) solution that helps you make sense of your media library. Let’s compare it with a common way to store images - Google Drive. It’s serviceable if you want to send files to a cloud to pick them up later. But what if your needs are more elaborate?
Metadata Powered Search
The issue with many file storages is that you need to know a file exactly. Such a restriction is okay if an image or a video is fresh in your memory. But what about an asset from a few months into the past? You don’t remember its name or the conversation’s context, but you do remember that you need it now.
That is where metadata - data about other data - comes into play. Things like file extension, date of an upload, geolocation (if it is a photo), image’s dimension, or any other custom data that you’ve added to the asset will allow you to search for a piece of media even if you don’t remember what it was. You can also create custom keywords or allow AI-powered algorithms to do it using image recognition.
But it's not only for forgetful ones. Let's say that you have three versions of every asset, different sizes for different social media. A cool trick is that your SM expert can search by a pre-defined keyword (e.g. “Twitter ad”), and they'll get all appropriately sized assets that they can use in their marketing campaign.
Finally, you can use the saved search feature to have quick access to all relevant assets via a single click.
With media campaigns, assets go through many iterations. During the brainstorming stages, one idea can definitely look better than the other. It is always for the best to come back to the earlier designs with a fresh mindset to see how they fare against the newest revision(s).
Pics.io allows you to quickly compare revisions of any asset with a neat slider that lets you notice exactly what you've changed.
Devansh and Peter would have been a perfect team if they did not live on the opposite sides of the globe. Fake@email.com is requesting access to your files is a common sighting in the inbox. John’s team does have a corporate Google Drive account, but team members sometimes forget to switch accounts or upload files to their personal Drives out of convenience. It becomes a chaos of asking for permissions or finding where exactly did you store images this time.
With Pics.io, this process is more streamlined. You create a collection, set up permissions once, and then team members that you’ve chosen can always access assets in that folder, whenever and wherever. Oh, and your team members will also get notifications every time someone uploads a new asset or edits/comments an existing one.
John doesn’t have time to bother with the design side of things. Conversely, John’s designers don’t want to bother with whatever business processes and wonder if they can use this or that image and under which circumstances. When Lily accidentally put chicken wings and Coke together, she meant no harm, but such a misstep won’t look good if it went public. Or, God forbid, the design team decides to use stock photos that you didn't buy! There are multiple ways to avoid this issue, but one easy way is by using watermarks.
Yes, watermarks' primary use is to protect your assets from being stolen, but they can also come in handy as an internal tool to protect your brand from headaches and potential lawsuits. John has partners that work with Coca-Cola and those that work with Pepsi. You can't mistake one bottle for the other, but fried chicken looks like - well - fried chicken. How was Lily supposed to know that that chicken was Pepsi-aligned? Like this for example:
Such watermarking lets the design team know that they must use these images with Pepsi bottles, not Coke. Once Lily grabs all assets that she needs from a large asset dump folder, she can easily remove all watermarks to manipulate the assets.
To safeguard yourself even further, you can opt to use Restricted Assets functionality. If you mark an asset as restricted, whenever someone without proper permissions tries to download it, they will receive an alert that they cannot do so:
Remember those cool products like Slack that we’ve mentioned before? You can use Slack and upgrade it through integration with Pics.io. That way, you’ll get the best of both worlds - powerful conversational features of Slack and marketing digital asset management of Pics.io.
For instance, when a teammate uploads a new asset or makes a comment in Pics.io, the team will receive a notification in Slack, and teammates that have been waiting for a revision can instantly get to work.
Summing it All Up
John’s team has heart in the right place, but it’s not enough to have a good idea and a vague plan on how to accomplish it. Many start-ups begin with such a mindset that their can-do attitude will suffice. But nothing ever goes smoothly. Projects always get tangled, complicated, and messy, and it is unfortunately at that moment that you realize you should have made an effort of setting up a good workflow for your team.
These tools are but a few examples of how you can elevate your team’s experience. Not all of them might be what you need - there are too many niches to cover in one article, but we’ll try returning to this piece once in a while.
If you think that any solutions that we’ve mentioned can benefit your team, why not give them a try? Even if you're not in food industry, all kinds of businesses can benefit from DAM solution.
The tools that we've discussed have free plans or trials that will get you ample time to decide if it is a good fit for your team or not. We’ve made sure to include links to every tool, but since we love tooting our horn so much, here’s sign-up for Pics.io’s 7-day trial. Or, you can book a demo with us to ask any questions that you might need. We hope to see you there ;)