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How 4 marketing teams ditched their servers for speed and simplicity

by Catherine Chiang  |  January 9, 2020

5 min. read

Many organizations start out by storing their assets in a simple filing system on a server. This may seem like the simplest solution when a company is small, but quickly becomes a problem when teams and the volume of assets they create grow.

These marketing teams said bye to their clunky servers and hello to speed and simplicity by switching to a cloud-based digital asset library.

Downtown Boston Business Improvement District

Photo of Boston and its downtown waterfront.
Downtown Boston Business Improvement District, a nonprofit dedicated to making this 100-acre neighborhood of the city clean, safe and welcoming, creates tons of beautiful imagery to bring in visitors and businesses.

They used to store all of their photos on a server, including raw photos and low resolution images that the organization would likely never use. This unorganized system meant that team members would spend too much time trying to find images to use, slowing down the entire organization.

Downtown Boston BID now uses Canto to centralize their incredibly diverse image library, which includes thousands of photos of the cityscape, people and events and are used for everything from planning urban improvement and beautification to local and nationwide advertising.

Canto is the centerpiece of a lot of what we do. Not a day goes by when we don’t use it in some form.

Moving from a server to a cloud-based digital asset library has cut down the time spent on tasks such as finding and sharing images to a matter of minutes. In addition, George and his team can easily access Canto’s cloud-based platform anywhere with internet access, providing flexibility when team members work from home or go on vacation.

“Photography is a central part of telling our story. It’s impossible to do what we do without Canto,” says George Comeau, marketing and brand activation manager at Downtown Boston BID.

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium Public Portal with Canto

Seattle Aquarium educates the public about the fascinating creatures and ecosystems within our oceans and advocates for conservation policy. Visuals are a key component of how they achieve their goals as an organization.

The team’s previous piecemeal system of a server and Dropbox made it extremely difficult for designers to find the images they needed. In addition, the nonprofit was having trouble keeping track of digital rights for all of their assets.

We’re producing more and more content, so being able to properly organize it and assess the content created without wasting money was something that we really needed in place. The file system on our servers just wasn’t working anymore.

With Canto, the digital marketing team has streamlined their internal processes and communications with patrons, donors, volunteers and media. Now, team members can easily search and filter for the assets they need. Canto’s metadata capabilities help their asset library stay organized as it grows.

“Canto has really helped us in terms of search functionality and metadata. A big thing for me was understanding permission rights for those assets,” says Pam Lamon, digital marketing manager at Seattle Aquarium. “Compared to Dropbox, it’s easier to use Canto to collaborate and share assets with people outside the organization. Being able to have the watermark embedded on any downloads, restrict the link access, and adjust those permissions is very helpful for us.”


Screenshot of the Canto media library of Inspirato.
Inspirato provides luxury vacation experiences and accommodations. The marketing team uses stunning visuals of their destinations to grow their consumer base.

Their on-premises server couldn’t handle their growing media library of tens of thousands of visual assets and their expanding team. When Inspirato moved to a campus environment with multiple buildings, the marketing team had to use a VPN to access their own media library because the server was located in a different building.

“Trying to get images over the VPN connection basically slowed us down to a halt. It was the catalyst that made us realize we had a challenge that needed to be addressed immediately,” says Joe Rahim, digital asset manager at Inspirato.

Inspirato now stores 84,000 files, 99 percent of which are images, in their Canto library. It’s fast and easy for team members to find exactly what they need.

With Canto, being able to search for something like ‘Los Cabos’ and instantly getting results was instrumental to its adoption here. Everyone is very familiar with searching for something on the internet, but that was completely missing with an on-premises server solution.

By democratizing their digital asset library, Canto has empowered the team to go beyond finding images to finding the best images for a particular project.

University of South Carolina Upstate

University of South Carolina (USC) Upstate
USC Upstate is one of the top schools of the South. The University Marketing & Communications team works hard to help the school gain recognition, especially through visual storytelling.

The university was storing all of their content on a system of servers and hard drives, making it frustrating to find images.

“When we got an image request, we would have to go through all the hard drives to find photos, and we couldn’t access the photos off campus. It was so time-consuming,” says Les Duggins, photographer at USC Upstate.

Today, the university stores all of their finished visual assets in Canto. Having a central location for all visual assets keeps the team focused and in sync. Canto has also streamlined how the team shares photos, taking much of the time and effort out of the process.

“Les used to run around campus with a USB drive to share the photos between departments. Now, he just shares them with a Canto link,” says Jav Rivera, multimedia producer at USC Upstate.

Since our athletics got accepted into the Big South Conference, there are new requirements for the photos that Les [our photographer] takes at sporting events – and now he’s taking way more photos. I don’t know how he would’ve shared all of these photos without Canto.