There are few other digital partnerships that are as deeply intertwined as sportswear and equipment brand Under Armour and digital experience platform Adobe Experience Manager.
Under Armour functions on Adobe: Experience Cloud, Experience Manager, Creative Cloud, Sensei, Customer Solutions, Customer Experience Strategy Services.
For brands that thrive off of marketing a lifestyle – which includes all big sportswear companies – managing a brand’s image is key. From shorts and t-shirts to shoes, leggings, and caps, Under Armour understands that products are not only sold on how they look but also how they perform.
To showcase their products, Under Armour creates 100,000s of assets that include marketing copy, store displays, videos, product shots, and photos of products worn by star athletes that collaborate with the brand – in golf, basketball, and baseball.
Yet one of the most frustrating aspects of creating content – within the context of a huge brand which means multiple departments and teams collaborating – is access processes. Put another way, giving the right access to the right people is difficult to manage.
Files are scattered across multiple places – folders, Dropbox, file servers, USBs, repositories – and the potential for accidental duplications is high.
“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,” said Ben Syder, IT product owner at Under Armour. “We needed a central repository to make it easy to use our creative assets.”
Other objectives that Under Armour made included the consolidation of various tools tied to a security framework; to show visibility into how assets are being used; the ability to share assets more efficiently across the organization as well as partners.
This central repository would come in the shape of Adobe Experience Manager. “We wanted to create a single source of truth,” added Ben. “Our goal was to create a one-stop shop where you can find any asset you need… Adobe Experience Manager Assets offered a great enterprise option to make a wide variety of assets available both internally and externally.”
Through Adobe Experience Manager Assets, brands can reshape the way that creative content can be managed. It makes sure that uploads don’t slow down the creative process, boosting efficiency, cutting down on time, and increasing the use of creative assets.
Creativity, automation, and tagging
Under Armour made it much easier to find and access assets by creating a consistent approach in how it tags content and the workflows that it goes through. In this way, they improved the management of assets.
“Tagging is important but can be a complex and manual time-consuming process,” explained Ben. “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.”
They created a complex workflow through Adobe Experience Manager Assets in which tags are automated. And it integrated its project management system with automated tagging, where assets are added to projects in their digital asset management.
“Automatic tagging through Adobe Experience Manager Assets saves a lot of time for creative teams as they upload files,” added Ben. “And it surfaces many assets that might have gotten lost previously.” With Under Armour taking on more and more content, their need grows to use Smart Tags and Smart Crop – which is powered by Adobe Sensei.
“Because we no longer have to worry about updating AEM,” said Ben . “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.”
All about assets
Most users at Under Armour who are in the creative teams go through its secure portal which was built using Asset Share Commons, Adobe’s open source builder, so that its marketing crew, customer service reps, and partners in retail stores.
“In the past, it could take a week for marketing to gather all the imagery needed for a particular event,” said Ben, “such as a pop-up store with a featured athlete… 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.”
Through Assets, Under Armour can even adjust the image resolution and change the file type on the fly. “By accessing Adobe Experience Manager Assets through the portal,” added Ben, “our wholesale partners can find assets themselves—without having to ask an Under Armour employee to gather the files and deliver them through Dropbox.”
Through Adobe Experience Manager Assets, it has opened further potential for Under Armour to share assets – whether its within the corporate security framework or integrated with single sign-on authentication systems – allowing for greater control over content management.
“We’d like deeper insights into usage on the secure portal built with Asset Share Commons, so we can encourage adoption across the organization,” said Ben. “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 wants to simplify the folder hierarchy within the digital asset management system, making it faster for the creative types to organize files. So that now when creative teams upload new assets, they are able to apply a prebuilt folder structure that automatically connects specific metadata to each and every file.
“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,” said Ben. “We’re already saving time and money by making our creative assets more accessible, and we’re eager to keep exploring the benefits.”
The long-term results of Under Armour’s teamwork with Adobe Experience Manager is quite impressive. For example, it has increased its daily active users and monthly asset downloads by more than 2x; saved 4 hours per user thanks to easier license management among 1,000 users.