Success story

Downtown Boston Business Improvement District


Boston, MA

Downtown Boston Business Improvement District streamlines digital asset management

How does one tell the multi-faceted story of a historic, yet ever evolving city like Boston? With photos – lots of them. Downtown Boston Business Improvement District, a nonprofit dedicated to making this 100-acre neighborhood of the city clean, safe and welcoming, relies on beautiful imagery to connect with potential visitors, residents and businesses that contribute to a thriving culture and economy.

George Comeau is the marketing and brand activation manager at Downtown Boston Business Improvement District. He is responsible for the destination marketing organization’s (DMO) brand awareness strategy, maintains the brand’s digital and web presence, and shoots most of the imagery used on the web and social media.

The goal

Downtown Boston Business Improvement District needed to manage their growing visual asset library and enable the marketing team to work more efficiently with these assets.

The result

The marketing team can work more quickly now that Canto has oiled the gears of the marketing team’s operations.

Goal: Smooth and organized asset retrieval

Downtown Boston BID promotes and photographs anything from streetscapes and buildings to local events to candid shots of pedestrians. In the past, they would store all of these photos on a server. This included raw photos that would never be used and low resolution images that were of little value to the organization. As a result, the team would waste valuable time sorting through this swamp of diverse and unorganized imagery to find what they needed. The server was also slow and team members couldn’t access assets remotely.

Having worked with Canto at a previous role in the higher education industry, George recognized immediately after he joined that implementing a digital asset management (DAM) solution was critical to helping his new team work smoothly as the asset library grew larger.

“Within the first 90 days in this role, I planned to buy and implement Canto. This was at the top of my list of priorities,” said George.

A view of Downtown Boston with harbor and skyline.

Enter Canto: A centerpiece for destination marketing

Downtown Boston BID uses Canto to centralize their incredibly diverse image library, which includes thousands of photos of the cityscape, people and events. These images are also used for various purposes within and outside the organization: promoting events, planning urban improvement and beautification, local and nationwide advertising, press coverage, selling real estate in the BID, social media and more.

Keeping the asset library organized and making it easy for team members to quickly find what they’re looking for has streamlined the organization’s marketing efforts.

“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,” said George.

Getting set up and organized

The introduction of Canto instilled a new sense of discipline into how the organization manages their marketing photos, shedded the clutter of any assets that weren’t useful. George selected and migrated only the photos that he knew would be valuable from the server into Canto.

To stay organized in Canto, George set up an initial set of 20-25 keywords for the organization and uses tags gratuitously. This helps team members find what they need later on via a quick search or filter.

Photo of Boston and its downtown waterfront.

Easy sharing

Canto has made it extremely easy to not only find assets, but also to share them with people inside and outside the organization. That way, teams can work together seamlessly, focusing on collaborating rather than looking for and requesting assets.

For example, George works closely with the district’s planner, whose job it is to beautify the city and make it more accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians. She will often request specific imagery to use in presentations, whether it’s photographs of spring flowers, bike racks or even trash cans.

“When the planner needs certain images, I can quickly put together a collection link in Canto. We capture the end results of her work in Canto as well, since it’s all very visual,” said George.

Externally, the marketing team uses Canto to share imagery for advertising campaigns, press, realtors, and more. Imagery stored in Canto has made its way into local publications such as Boston Magazine or The Boston Globe and nationwide ad campaigns – all by sharing a simple link.

Real-time collaboration

The marketing team also collaborates more efficiently and in real time when they work with external agencies. They work with two design firms, which have seats in Canto and access the platform frequently to search for and download the images they need. George creates specific folders of content to share with the agencies.

“I can talk to them on the phone and say, ‘Pull up image number 56,’ and we can discuss it right then and there. I love the flexibility of Canto being cloud-based,” said George.

In addition, the nonprofit uses Canto’s style guide feature to make their brand guidelines and logos readily available to agencies, press and internal team members. Gone are the days of sending bulky email attachments of multiple logo configurations and file types!

Photography is a central part of telling our story. It’s impossible to do what we do without Canto.

George ComeauMarketing and Brand Activation Manager

Results: A faster workflow for a fast-paced team

For Downtown Boston BID, the Canto difference has been all about speed and efficiency. With 1.5 million visitors a week packed into that 100-acre space of the BID during their peak months, the organization has to keep up with the fast pace of the city.

“Our success is measured by how quickly we can move onto the next thing. Cities don’t stop, so neither do we,” said George.

From the speedier transactions of fulfilling image requests to the ease of working and collaborating remotely, Canto has oiled the gears of the marketing team’s operations, smoothing over previous sticking points that used to slow things down.

Time spent on tasks such as finding and sharing images to team members and external publications have been cut down 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.

With the gears turning smoothly, the team is able to fully unlock their creative flow.

“Photography is a central part of telling our story. It’s impossible to do what we do without Canto,” said George.

George’s pro tips:

  • From day one, classify the 25-30 keywords that are appropriate for the organization. You can easily fill in the gaps with tags.
  • If you think a photo should be labeled with a keyword but that keyword doesn’t exist, write it on a scratchpad. If you find yourself writing down the same word over and over again, then it should be a keyword. Otherwise, you can just add that label as a tag and either way it will show up in search.
  • Really push to tag and label the bulk of what you upload in that same day, so that you don’t have to worry about getting back to it later or forgetting.
  • Only choose the best images to minimize over-stuffing the DAM. Focus on your finest images to tag and reuse.