Can DAM be a digital makerspace?

DAM is just for storing content, right?

There’s this myth that DAM is just storage, but DAM is no more “just storage” than a physical library is “just storage.” It’s reductionist to view DAM as only for digital content storage.

DAM (digital asset management) is a digital library where information, resources, and digital assets can be discovered, reused, and repurposed for other projects. It also helps facilitate the briefing, ideation, and sometimes, even the creation of digital content. In essence, a DAM library is a digital space that facilitates knowledge-sharing, one where the patrons can be both consumers and creators.

All marketers are makers - not just designers and creatives

In the past, to create digital content you needed to be a specialist in some area - video, design, art direction, copy, etc. That’s no longer the case. Anyone can open up their browser and create something from scratch. Will it be good? Maybe. Will it be on-brand? Maybe.

Maybe is a liability for brands when it comes to consistency across digital channels, geographies, and markets. It “may be on-brand” is not something you want to tell your design or creative team. And it's not something you want impacting how your brand is perceived by your customers. 

Marketers still need to understand the parameters to operate within. Just as companies use brand guidelines as a north star to speak, create, and publish under a unified face and voice, content creation in the digital space needs to take brand guidelines into account as well - not as black and white, do-or-don’t, hard and fast rules that need to be strictly adhered to, but as bumpers to operate within. A lot can happen between two bumpers, but guidelines help you stay in the right lane. The benefit of “making” in the digital space is that it opens up the opportunity to scale content creation. If anyone can create, then the bottleneck of not being able to create enough content to satisfy the deluge of digital channels, formats, sizes, and variations across markets is gone.

This is where creative automation comes in. Just like the bumpers you put up when you’re bowling (unless you’re The Dude), software that automates brand parameters to operate within makes it simple for marketers to stay on-brand and create content at scale. So much "making" has been happening digitally for some time now, but in 2020 it became necessity, not luxury, and there are many parallels between physical makerspaces and digital collaboration spaces. 

What’s a makerspace?

Makerspaces are physical spaces that you can find in libraries across the world, but also in corporations. In “The magic of makerspaces”, Alana Aamodt writes that “A makerspace is a community space where anyone can teach, learn, and practice creative skills,” and that they’re magical because they create a culture that embraces failure, learning, and, most importantly, collaboration.

Libraries, traditionally collecting institutions that provide access to materials created by others, may now adopt new functions, providing communities with opportunities to create or co-create content for an individual’s own use, for use by the community, or for inclusion in the library collection.
[ALIA]

Makerspaces make the act of creating more inclusive and more beneficial to their communities and patrons. Turns out, makerspaces are not just for libraries. Major tech firms like Google and Microsoft have significantly invested in makerspaces.

Do all good things really start in the garage or a physical space?

Heard of Google Street View? Did you know it came from a makerspace (hackerspace) at Google? Even Microsoft has a makerspace or hackerspace called The Garage.

There is a feeling here at Google that all good things start in a garage,” said Greg Butterfield, an engineering lab manager who oversees the workshops. “Larry wanted to create the same kind of environment he and Sergey had when they started Google — a sort of a playground or sandbox for pursuing their ideas.
[Uncubed via Associated Press]
Boston google street view digital makerspace bynder

During a time where offices are closed or partially shut down and many of us work from home, could a digital makerspace provide the same type of space for creative thinking and innovation for marketers? And how might digital makerspaces facilitate better marketing in the long term? A DAM can serve as a digital makerspace to inspire creativity and collaboration for marketers, but also as a place to experiment with how content gets created in the first place. 

As we think differently about how content gets created and how we collaborate in the digital space, it's important to also balance this with where we are at and what we are all up against in the future. Despite the increase in global online sales and booming ecommerce, we’re all still marketing in a down economy. Earlier in the year, Forrester suggested there would likely be: “a 23% reduction in marketing spend in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many cuts directly focused on marketing agencies.”  

Even as budgets start to open up - there is still a sense of hesitancy for many brands, especially in specific industries. Many marketers are living the “do more with less” mindset, but it’s also about doing less and doing it better - a mantra that automation and technology can help us all live up to. It’s always been (and always will be) important to make high-quality, relevant content. A fact that’s been amplified by attention scarcity in a digitally-fatigued, stay-at-home workforce. The random encounters with colleagues in the office are gone. These in-person, ad-hoc encounters do a lot to facilitate creativity. Sometimes just running an idea by a colleague can spark new ideas and creative outputs.

And in the digital space, serendipitous creativity is even more difficult when you’re constantly navigating through tabs on your browser, chat applications, email conversations, and Zoom calls. The seemingly overnight digital transformation that happened in 2020 has put new tools in the hands of marketers and new ways of working, but also, new problems to solve regarding digital collaboration and creativity.

What can we learn from physical makerspaces that we can apply to the digital collaboration environment?

What’s unique about digital makerspaces is that they can support learning, collaboration, and making in the digital world, which, let’s face it, is where we’re all stuck working for the foreseeable future. So what can we learn from physical makerspaces that we can apply to the digital collaboration environment? I think the answer is three-fold:

  1. Democratize content creation: Anyone can be a creator.
  2. Prioritize creativity: It’s time to reallocate resources focused on manual and mundane tasks to creativity.
  3. Be open to innovation: If the library can be reimagined with the incorporation of makerspaces, so too can the way you approach marketing and collaboration in the digital space.
The goal of makerspace is to develop an open and inviting atmosphere where learners can discover and pursue a project or purpose, use their creativity and imagination, and confront and overcome challenges, within a making context.
[Shanshan Yu, University of Alberta]

A digital makerspace can not only democratize the activity of content creation, but also the ability to scale content creation efforts - from localization, formats/variations, and sizes for different audiences and channels.

Democratization is focused on providing people with access to technical or business expertise via a radically simplified experience.
[Gartner 2020 Trends]

If your design team can create a campaign toolkit, upload it, and kick it over to your field marketers and campaign managers for creation and execution, then how much space did you just open up for more creativity from your design and creative teams? It might be difficult to measure, but innovation often is. As the famous quote goes, “Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.”

If your designers and creatives aren’t manually drafting each version of an ad or banner themselves, what else are they then free to work on? What other creative ideas come to light when you give your creatives back more time to do what they do best?

Let’s face it, you didn’t hire marketers to copy and paste text into design over and over. You hired marketers to bring your brand to life through creativity and innovative thinking. So let them do the DAM thing and see for yourself why brands are scaling content creation with Bynder.