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Brigham Young University: “PhotoShelter is Our Competitive Advantage.”

BYU creates maximum impact with its content with real time asset distribution.

  • 40k+ users with access to PhotoShelter
  • 207k+ assets housed in PhotoShelter
  • 938k+ total social media followers

A Historic Institution Fostering Lifelong Learning

Founded nearly 150 years ago, Brigham Young University (BYU) is one of the largest private universities in the U.S. The BYU University Photographer’s Office, led by Director of Visual Communications Jaren Wilkey, was established in 1976, and is responsible for using visual media to showcase the institution’s brand, attract applicants, and represent the university to the larger community.

The Challenge: Establishing a Consistent Visual Brand

BYU has trusted PhotoShelter for its digital asset management (DAM) needs since 2011. Before PhotoShelter, BYU tried to manage its needs with a combination of internal servers and Dropbox. However, other solutions were either too expensive, too clunky, or both. Without a proper DAM system or visual content strategy BYU’s photo team struggled with several challenges:

  • Constant internal requests: Before PhotoShelter, many internal stakeholders did not have easy access to BYU assets. Jaren often received last-minute calls and emails from university leaders, sometimes in the middle of the night, in need of content for presentations and other projects.
  • Brand integrity at risk: When stakeholders couldn’t get what they needed quickly, they often turned to external stock photo sources like iStock and Getty Images. Without input from the visual communications team, those generic images often did not meet brand standards for quality. That put BYU’s brand reputation at risk.
  • Manual workflow: Jaren and his team used to spend hours after BYU basketball games downloading photos off of their cameras. Although they were always able to distribute the images eventually, missing the most relevant moment sometimes diminished the impact of the content.

“I would get calls at 11 p.m. on my cell phone saying, ‘I need an image for a PowerPoint presentation tomorrow morning.’ If they couldn’t get a hold of us, people were going online and getting a generic picture of our campus and then going out and showing that to the world. As the visual brand manager of the university, I’m in charge of what BYU looks like. So, I realized we needed a solution to get images in the hands of the people that need them.”

Jaren Wilkey, Director of Visual Communications, Brigham Young University

Photo by Nate Edwards/BYU

The Solution: Instant Distribution for Maximum Impact

BYU needed a way to centralize its visual assets, make them more accessible to internal stakeholders, and control what types of images were used to represent the university. Jaren found PhotoShelter at the perfect moment, and he never looked back. Here’s how PhotoShelter helps BYU simplify content distribution:

  • Increased accessibility with single sign-on (SSO): By implementing this feature, BYU provides nearly 40,000 university students, faculty and staff with access to high-quality content with their existing university login. Now, the campus community can view and download images without reaching out to Jaren’s team.
  • Easily searchable stock photo library: Using PhotoShelter, Jaren has curated an easily searchable library with thousands of on-brand images that gets 40k+ searches per month. People across the university consistently use these photos for presentations, to create materials to attract applicants, and showcase the university.
  • Real-time workflow: BYU uses a wireless File Transfer Protocol (FTP) connection between its cameras and PhotoShelter to instantly upload photos from events in seconds. With the FileFlow app, BYU’s social media team can view, download, and share the photos as soon as they hit BYU’s PhotoShelter account.
  • AI Visual Search: Photography Manager Nate Edwards said PhotoShelter’s visual search features have helped the BYU photography team satisfy requests for specific types of images they never would have thought to tag with metadata. Unique search terms like “t-shirt” or “table” return dozens of results that would have been difficult to find otherwise.

“People asked us for specific assets such as ‘photos of t-shirts being handed out’ for an event. Where would I even look? It’s not a metadata tag we would ever use.  But when I typed ‘t-shirts and tables’ into AI Visual Search, it gave me dozens of results. Pretty incredible…That’s the power of AI. That’s what I think is really going to help us.”

Jaren Wilkey, Director of Visual Communications, Brigham Young University

Spreading the BYU Mission Through Images

“The power of an image is so amazing. PhotoShelter allows us to amplify that image and get it out in the moment when it matters. That image will have a lot more impact as it’s happening than it will the next day. The fact that [PhotoShelter lets us] communicate immediately with our audiences through our social media channels — not with iPhone photos, but with high-quality, professionally created images — is incredible. Honestly, that’s been our competitive advantage as a university.”

Jaren Wilkey, Director of Visual Communications, Brigham Young University

For Jaren and Nate, their team’s success is about a lot more than metrics. They are visual historians and storytellers who create compelling content that promote BYU’s brand and identity and convey the university’s mission and vision to the world. Jaren and Nate are sure that having a faster content workflow with PhotoShelter has helped them accomplish their goals.

“Our job is to tell the BYU story to the world and help communicate who we are and what we believe in through our photos. PhotoShelter has been a great solution for us for sharing and distributing our photos — I don’t think there is a better solution out there.”

Jaren Wilkey, Director of Visual Communications, Brigham Young University

Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU

We sat down with Jaren Wilkey and Nate Edwards from the BYU Photo Team for an Inside Look at some of their most creative campaigns. Plus, they shared their step-by-step process for setting up a Real-Time Workflow with PhotoShelter.

Ready to transform your team’s creative workflow?

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