ServicesWeb Design & Development
Managing a university’s brand assets via a custom-made system
The University of Virginia communications office creates and manages brand guidelines and assets—everything from logos and templates to rich media and the guidelines document itself—for people across the institution who create marketing materials for their departments. This might include not just members of the Brand Team, but also a school librarian who just needs to send an eblast.
At a large university, evangelizing brand standards and delivering assets to a broad cross-section of time-crunched users is challenging. The UVA Brand Team’s task was complicated by the fact that the off-the-shelf Digital Asset Management (DAM) system they used was unable to meet the team’s needs for customization and performance improvement.
UVA needed a custom system tailored to its needs that could handle a uniquely structured brand guide, and that also would make updating brand asset seamless and offer a more complex nesting hierarchy for organizing those assets. The requirements were broad; the cope restraints were tight.
After studying the landscape of existing DAM systems, we were sure we could develop a focused experience that was exactly tailored to UVA's needs.
Digital Pulp quickly identified Drupal as the perfect platform for building what essentially is a sophisticated system for housing and delivering files—something that Drupal does extremely well. We knew that Drupal’s extensibility and its modular approach, which combines flexibility, depth and simplicity, would be perfectly suited to UVA’s needs.
Working in close partnership with a diligent and committed UVA team, we identified the pain points and, and reviewing scope and budget together at each step of the process, designed and built a DAM that would address those issues—and more.
We created a flexible information architecture that can grow and change along with brand needs. Productivity is of the essence for any brand team, so we worked hard to make sure that searches would be fast and accurate, building a search mechanism that prioritizes results by number of previous downloads and, based on what we learned were the most frequent search queries, automatically returns results based on the top keywords. The DAM’s terrific search capabilities make locating the right materials a breeze, and once located, photos can be added to a personalized lightbox and converted on the fly within the DAM environment.
The front door of the DAM is a bespoke brand guide — the brand essentials that anyone creating assets for the university or representing it in public should understand. We created an essential resource that is at once aspirational and inspiring, and a quick study for someone who needs to simply apply a font or color.
From user experience and visual design, through development and user testing, the project progressed without a wrinkle. The University of Virginia’s DAM launched in October, 2017, on schedule and on budget.
The result: a successful brand assets and guidelines site that reflects the essence of the brand. It is powerful for the end user as well as being rational and intuitive, allowing anyone—from superusers to interns—to easily and rapidly locate, customize and download brand assets.
In November, 2017, the UVA Brand Team was honored by the American Marketing Association with its Higher Ed Marketing Team of the Year award for its successful launch of a rebrand—an effort that had culminated in our work with UVA to create a site for the new brand that truly communicates “the endless pursuit of better.”