Digital asset management with game.
How Under Armour centralized their content with Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Experience Manager.
Saved per user through easier license management covering more than 1,000 users
Share assets more effectively across the organization and with partners.
Consolidate multiple tools into a central repository within the security framework.
Gain visibility into how assets are being used with central logging.
Dial in asset management and communication using reusable development processes.
Makes creative assets easier for internal users and wholesale partners to find.
Reduces cumbersome manual processes with automated asset tagging.
4 hours saved per user through easier license management covering more than 1,000 users.
Lowers storage costs by reducing duplication of files, workflows, and tools.
Increases daily active users and monthly asset downloads from Asset Sharing Portal by over 2x.
Changing the game
For a high-performance sportswear company, image is important. From shoes to T-shirts, sales are driven not only by how well they perform, but how good the products look, and who wears them. Under Armour understands this principle well. Located in Baltimore, Maryland, the brand pioneered the original performance T-shirt, designed to wick sweat and dry quickly to make athletes look and feel cool. To promote their products, Under Armour produces hundreds of thousands of creative assets, including product shots, marketing copy, store displays, videos, and images of the gear in action, worn by the stars of baseball, basketball, and golf.
These assets are used in a variety of sales and marketing promotions—both internally and by partners who sell Under Armour products. But accessing the files hasn’t always been easy. Creative and marketing teams stored content in a number of repositories, including SharePoint, Dropbox, file servers, and even USB drives, creating duplication of content and inefficient use of resources and workflows.
Ben Snyder, IT Product Owner at Under Armour, says they needed a serious solution. “With creative assets stored across multiple tools and departments, it could take hours or even days to gather the content required for a campaign or event. We needed a central repository to make it easy to use our creative assets.”
It all started with a pressing requirement to share content more effectively with wholesale partners, who need to be able to download product photos for use in catalogs, websites, and in-store materials. But Snyder soon realized that a central repository would simplify work for a lot of people internally as well, from creative and marketing to customer service and retail.
“We wanted to create a single source of truth. Our goal was to create a one-stop shop where you can find any asset you need,” says Snyder. “Adobe Experience Manager Assets offered a great enterprise option to make a wide variety of assets available both internally and externally.”
With Adobe Experience Manager Assets, part of Adobe Marketing Cloud, Under Armour is dramatically reshaping the way it manages creative content. To increase efficiency, save time, and maximize use of their assets, they needed to ensure uploads wouldn’t slow them down. Under Armour worked with Adobe Customer Solutions to pick the right solution and cut upload times in half. The company began by moving 5TB of data into the digital asset management (DAM) system. From there, Under Armour has seen exponential growth as marketing photography, video, copy, development files, and Adobe Illustrator and InDesign files are posted. This includes cleaner video versions that make it easier to do translations or optimize for mobile versus desktop.
“We’re trying to work in an agile methodology, where we were able to break up requirements into items to deliver on a regular basis. We worked with Adobe Customer Solutions to dial in our process and communication updates, and do any training that was necessary."
IT Product Owner, Under Armour
Tools for better teamwork
Under Armour uses Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise to produce most of its creative assets. More than 600 people in product development and marketing have access to Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Meanwhile, video editors rely on Adobe Premiere Pro to produce video assets, using the workflow in Team Projects to support collaboration between teams in Maryland and New York.
Using Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries, teams can share design elements such as icons, color swatches, and fonts—avoiding duplicating their efforts and working faster. With the deployment of Adobe Experience Manager Assets, the company expects Adobe Creative Cloud Libraries to play an increasingly important role in asset development and sharing.
Aside from Adobe Creative Cloud users, as many as 500 Under Armour people use Adobe Acrobat DC for administrative purposes. With so many licenses across the suite of Adobe products, Under Armour opted for a Named User Licensing solution, which gives the company more flexibility to package and distribute software based on its users’ needs. Users have federated IDs linked to Active Directory groups, enabling single sign-on and making it easy to add, renew, and remove licenses. This approach saves the company up to four hours per user.
Creative teams get the assist with automated metadata tagging
To make assets easier to find, Under Armour decided to do more than just consolidate repositories into a DAM. The team reimagined the governance of its digital assets, creating a consistent approach to tagging and workflows, one that would improve access and management of all assets and improve the workflow for creative teams.
“Tagging is important but can be a complex and manual time-consuming process,” explains Snyder. “Some tags could be applied in bulk uploads, but most tags had to be added manually. Because this step was often neglected, files would practically disappear.”
Using Adobe Experience Manager Assets, Snyder and his team devised a sophisticated workflow that automatically adds relevant tags to each file. They do this by integrating product lifecycle information via an API connection to their master data management (MDM) solution. The asset owner, usually a creative team member, simply tags the material code into the XMP metadata. A workflow then runs to associate 20 attributes based on the data pulled from the MDM platform—details such as product name, style number, colorway, target audience gender, sport category, and market region.
Under Armour has integrated its Workfront project management system in a similar way, tagging assets automatically as they are added to projects in the DAM with information from creative briefs, such as campaign names and brand channels.
“Automatic tagging through Adobe Experience Manager Assets saves a lot of time for creative teams as they upload files,” Snyder says. “And it surfaces many assets that might have gotten lost previously.”
As Under Armour absorbs content into the DAM, there is a growing case for also using Smart Tags and Smart Crop, powered by Adobe Sensei, the artificial intelligence and machine learning technology. Smart Tags can help identify relevant metadata that goes beyond product attributes, such as big-name athlete sponsorships, while Smart Cropping can deliver social assets to the platform more efficiently.
Meanwhile, Under Armour’s transition to AEM as a Cloud Service creates even more opportunities for feature updates and dynamic media opportunities.
“Because we no longer have to worry about updating AEM,” explains Snyder, “we can start looking at how we can get features to let our asset share platform continue to expand its usage by integrating with some of these newer services.”
A one-stop shop for assets
When it comes to accessing Under Armour’s creative assets, most users enter the company’s secure portal, built using Asset Share Commons, for marketing teams, customer service representatives, retail stores, and wholesale partners. Providing a simple interface with a search box and filters, the portal dramatically changes the way people look for product photos and other content.
“In the past, it could take a week for marketing to gather all the imagery needed for a particular event, such as a pop-up store with a featured athlete,” explains Snyder. “Now, with Adobe Experience Manager Assets, they can find all the latest materials in a matter of minutes with a quick search in one spot.”
The solution is great for wholesale partners, who typically want to download large batches of product images. Instead of searching for each photo individually, these partners can perform a bulk search using material codes and download hundreds of photos at once. They can even adjust the image resolution and change the file type on the fly.
“By accessing Adobe Experience Manager Assets through the portal, our wholesale partners can find assets themselves—without having to ask an Under Armour employee to gather the files and deliver them through Dropbox,” says Snyder.
The future is Adobe Asset Link
As a user of Adobe Creative Cloud for enterprise, Under Armour has partnered with Adobe to help build the next-generation workflow across creative and marketing processes. Adobe Asset Link allows creative and marketing teams to share files and manage the full asset lifecycle without leaving the tools they use every day. For Under Armour’s photography teams, that means being able to upload and retouch images in Photoshop, while users on other teams can potentially start to tap into them from InDesign and Illustrator.
“Adobe Asset Link can help us manage images while they are still a work in progress, from uploading to reviewing and retouching,” Snyder says. “Our experience with the tool has been very good, and we look forward to exploring new use cases as we go along.”
He adds, “The checkout feature within Adobe Asset Link is a new concept for our design teams, and it could help us manage the whole lifecycle of an asset within the DAM. It will likely become a crucial capability as we continue our digital transformation in marketing.”
Conditioning a culture of collaboration
To make the most of their asset management, Under Armour needed to organize a winning strategy and synergized team. They looked to Adobe to provide insight and guidance through CX Organizational Growth.
“We’re trying to work in an agile methodology, where we were able to break up requirements into items to deliver on a regular basis,” says Snyder, “We worked with Adobe Customer Solutions to dial in our process and communication updates, and do any training that was necessary.”
Adobe insight on how to automate workflows ensure future implementations happen with less effort. It also means Under Armour avoids unnecessary customizations. Now they can reuse their development efforts from the last project to develop new assets and groups in the platform. What used to take Under Armour months to develop now gets done in just three weeks.
“We're introducing virtual development assets into the DAM and reusing a lot of the work that we had done last year in launching photography,” says Snyder, “Thinking about platform development in that way has been a huge benefit to us.”
Adobe expertise applies to more than just optimizing platform development. Adobe also helps Under Armour rethink the way the organization communicates. Previously siloed teams can now connect over multiple touchpoints through one centralized platform. A monthly call with regional partners keeps everyone informed on new enhancements coming to the DAM. This means mapping Workfront and creative metadata to assets so that the team can easily share using URLs. From there, personalizing asset search display makes finding and downloading assets even faster.
“It's been amazing to see the amount of work and reaching out that the regional team had to do before we implemented all this,” Snyder says, “Now it's a singular kind of discussion where we can point everybody to one solution, drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to search for an asset, and get it downloaded.”
A culture of collaboration keeps Under Armour growing. Active users now manage and download assets on every continent except Antarctica. Since centralizing their communication, Under Armour has seen monthly asset downloads from their Asset Sharing Portal more than double. The same is true for the number of daily active users.
“Because we're working with a consultant team inside of Adobe, they have access to the internal resources that no one else would really have access,” Snyder says, “So we've been able to move faster and dive into feature requests quickly because of that.”
Technology innovation for the win
Consolidating multiple repositories onto Adobe Experience Manager Assets has opened new possibilities for asset sharing at Under Armour. For one thing, creative assets now sit safely within the corporate security framework, integrated with the single sign-on and two-factor authentication systems. This allows for better control over valuable, copyrighted materials.
The consolidation also allows for greater visibility into usage activity. Instead of merely tracking the number of downloads per user, the IT team aims to see which departments are using the tool, which assets are downloaded most frequently, and how each asset is used.
“We’d like deeper insights into usage on the secure portal built with Asset Share Commons, so we can encourage adoption across the organization,” explains Snyder. “The insights would also give our photography teams much-needed feedback on their photo shoots. If they can see that certain types of assets aren’t being used, they can focus elsewhere and save some time and money.”
The IT team also aims to simplify folder hierarchies within the DAM, making it quicker for creatives to organize files and easier for users to find what they need. When creative teams upload new assets, they can apply a predefined folder structure that automatically imparts certain metadata to each file, such as its intended use.
“Adobe Experience Manager Assets gives us a great launching point for innovation as we improve the way we manage some of our most valuable resources,” says Snyder. “We’re already saving time and money by making our creative assets more accessible, and we’re eager to keep exploring the benefits.”