The New Digital Makerspace: Why Brands are Scaling Content Creation with DAM


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.

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.

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.

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.

What can we learn from 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:

Democratize content creation: Anyone can be a creator.

Prioritize creativity: It’s time to reallocate resources focused on manual and mundane tasks to creativity.

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.

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 the newest creative automation tools.