Tell us about your role and journey into technology. What galvanized you to start Brandfolder?
While I started my career in technology developing search engine and directory applications in the late 90s, I have worked in content and media platforms since 2004. I discovered the need for Brandfolder while working at Yahoo in 2012. There, I interfaced with many of the globe’s largest digital brands and it became wildly evident to me that while massive value was being assigned to brand, these brands were being managed over email and commoditized cloud storage. This meant that brand management and delivery processes were manual, prone to error, inefficient and lacked any actionable data or intelligence.
What differentiates Brandfolder from the rest in the DAM landscape?
We have three core differentiators. First of all, we have a modular product, which allows us to construct an offering that meets the needs of every brand and almost every use case. The modules and features they need can be added over time as their brand logistics and activations evolve. This also allows our customers to be onboard and up and running in a matter of weeks, not months. Secondly, our elite data science team develops functionality that provides our customers with proprietary data and insights that deliver brand owners never-before-seen measurement and intelligence around brand performance, brand consistency and integration. Lastly, our intuitive interface/UX has always been our signature. Customers, prospects and analysts almost always remark that our offering boasts an unmatched ease of use — one that generates motivated users, not forces them into training sessions. If you can use an iPhone, you can use a Brandfolder.
How do you prepare for the highly disruptive marketing technology ecosystem?
Simply put, our instinct is to integrate with creative solutions and omnichannel endpoints, not force people into complex new systems and workflows that require users to do things differently. Users should be able to use Brandfolder in their current routines. We don’t want our product to create new work or massive changes in process. This has served us well when things get chaotic for the more than 5,000 brands that use Brandfolder.
What is the current state of Digital Asset Management and how does Brandfolder best enable CMOs to justify their spending on DAM platform?
The landscape is much, much more sophisticated than it was when we got started more than five years ago. For example, back then, we saw prospects ask if commoditized, featureless cloud storage platforms such as Dropbox, Box and Google Drive could suffice as a DAM. Those days are over. The space has now become more formalized, competitive and feature-rich. There is less noise and fewer truly meaningful, full-featured providers. Also, brands now know they will eventually need a DAM and it just a matter of timing.
CMOs know exactly how much they spend on creative development and track the cost of each omnichannel expression of their brand, from email marketing, to press to social and so on. So, to install a common, integrated DAM layer to deliver, track and manage the brand creative used in all of these expressions is simple to justify and ensures the ROI on brand development. In short, CMOs use Brandfolder as insurance on their investment on creative.
Why do brands intentionally alter their identities? What are the logistics behind such changes? Does it pay off?
It is a smart, agile trend. The logic behind dynamic branding is varied. Among other motivations, it is an extremely effective way to launch new products, generate buzz for tired or vintage brands, solicit new emotions and reach out to new customer segments. In my opinion, sports teams are truly the best at managing multiple identities. It is a logistical nightmare without a platform such as Brandfolder, especially if the CMO wants to toggle between brand identities. If it is executed well, it pays off for our customers. If the usage guidelines and parameters aren’t known and delivered upon, it can get messy and problematic. It needs to be done intentionally and with a destination in mind.
How do you help such brands endure this transition phase?
We help our customers deliver new identities and toggle between multiple identities quite often. We have a Smart CDN feature that allows a brand leader to replace one collection of assets with another — with a few clicks — across all owned omnichannel endpoints. For our customers, we integrate those endpoints, like email, e-commerce, social, press, etc., to one controlled, single source collection of assets. This eliminates brand discrepancy. Lastly, we deliver measurement analytics, so that brand owners have line-of-sight into the performance of the transition.
How much have Business Operations changed since the arrival of Automation and BI/Analytics tools? How do you leverage these tools in your work?
Immensely. It has delivered Biz Ops leaders with data and insights that help them calculate ROI in new, now expected ways. Marketers and brand managers rely less on gut and more on performance data when it comes to where they assigning value and distributing resources. Personally, it has forced me to show up with data to support my endless opinions.
Which marketing and sales automation tools and technologies do you currently use?
How often do you measure the performance of your marketing analytics and sales reporting?
What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in DAM operations for 2018-2020?
I think we’ll see a widening of the split between custom-built, services-focused DAMs and those such as Brandfolder, which are customizable and modular. We will also see more and more vertical-specific DAM solutions. For example, we offer differentiated DAMs with feature sets specific to food and beverage, franchise/multi-location businesses, apparel, agencies, sports, technology, etc.
What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now?
I’m watching the evolution of creative tools. Historically, creative applications were not available to everyone and the barrier to entry was huge. For example, Adobe tools required training, expensive licenses and there was a barrier to entry to creative production. Now, tools such as Canva enable everyone to efficiently develop quality, beautiful creatives. Also, we are starting to see machine and AI develop creative for us – like Logojoy. We see more and of this kind of creative surfacing in Brandfolders.
Could you tell us about an outstanding digital campaign?
Our CRO, Steve Baker, started a really terrific annual campaign three years ago. It is called State of DAM. It is a long-form document that we publish annually. It allows us to editorialize on the trends affecting the DAM space and share information about the product we’re building — and why. We track downloads and shares. Very simple, but it performs well and allows our customers, analysts and prospects to understand our perspective.
How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?
Leaders need to instrument and architect their data collection and management systems, piping and storage to enable AI and ML from the very start. Re-architecting and re-plumbing rivers and lakes is a major undertaking and can pause many efforts. It needs to be enabled yesterday, in my opinion.
How do you inspire your people to work with technology?
I push them to take risks and try new applications, tools, technologies. I rarely turn down a request to test a new platform or tool. We try them all.
One word that best describes how you work.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?
What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?
What are you currently reading?
I read paper books, plus all of the articles and stories that I have pushed to my Pocket app. I’m currently reading The Stranger in the Woods, by Michael Finkel. It is about a hermit who lived in the woods of Maine for decades. I really enjoy reading about how people with alternative lifestyles live and cope. There are a million ways to live your life. I like to see the ways I’m unfamiliar with.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Do your job.
Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?
Hmm. I think that I am a better than average judge of talent.
Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read:
My college roommate, former co-worker and friend, Tim Armstrong.
Thank you, Luke! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.
Accomplished senior digital media executive with deep experience running early stage, venture funded startups as well as some of the largest, publicly traded global media and technology operations. Product and business execution expertise in b2b and b2c content, DAM / Digital Asset Management, SaaS, brand development, media collection and distribution platforms, editorial strategy, partnerships, communications, utilities and monetization.
Brandfolder is the world’s most powerfully simple digital asset management (DAM) platform. Easily store, share, and showcase what’s important to your brand with our cloud-based, SaaS solution. With Brandfolder, brands are empowered to become more organized, consistent, and efficient. We help strong brands tell their best brand stories.
The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.