Success story

Seattle Aquarium


Seattle, WA

Seattle Aquarium changes the tides of conservation policy

From children on their first field trip to lifelong learners, guests of the Seattle Aquarium enjoy a fascinating glimpse of life in our world’s most mysterious ecosystem: our oceans. As environmental crises such as pollution threaten marine life, the nonprofit has naturally expanded its mission beyond educating the public to advocating for conservation policy. With impactful campaigns such as Strawless in Seattle, resulting in the first plastic straw and utensil ban in a major U.S. city, comes the need to manage the photos and videos that help tell these conservation stories.

Pam Lamon, the Digital Marketing Manager at the Seattle Aquarium, has built the organization’s digital presence from the ground up, developing a consistent brand across the organization’s website, social media and email marketing. Her team supports the fundraising and conservation departments by directing the aquarium’s digital presence so that guests, donors and the media have a streamlined, positive user experience.

It’s essential that the team corrals their growing library of content contributed from both professional and volunteer photographers so that the whole organization and their media partners are equipped with the assets they need to tell stories that save marine wildlife.

The goal

The nonprofit needed an easy way to collect imagery from their volunteer content creators and distribute assets to media.

The result

With a streamlined public affairs workflow, the marketing team can focus on enabling fundraising and conservation policy efforts.

Goal: Diving in with organized digital assets

In the past, the Seattle Aquarium used a combination of a simple filing system on a server and Dropbox to house their digital assets. This setup posed some issues, making it difficult for designers to find the assets they needed. Imagine having to sort through files manually to find a photo of Amphiprion percula (a specific species of clownfish) among hundreds of other species of tropical fish!

Seattle Aquarium

The breaking point came when the nonprofit ran into trouble for mistakenly using content for which they did not have permission. A simple file server made it extremely hard for the team to sort out which assets they could or could not use, and the organization came to an agreement that they needed to invest in a DAM solution that could manage these permission rights and centralize and organize 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,” said Pam.

Enter Canto: Evolving from chaos to clarity

What sold Canto for Seattle Aquarium was the ease of collaboration with partners and the public. The aquarium took advantage of Canto’s easy sharing features by setting up a public portal to share approved photos and videos with press and the public, cutting out the tedious task of finding and attaching assets via email.

Another reason the aquarium chose Canto was to manage their group of volunteer content contributors, which helps the digital marketing team meet their growing needs for photos and videos. Volunteer photographers and videographers are now able to upload their content via Canto upload links, adding metadata such as tags, for Pam’s team to approve and move over to their main digital library. This helps the team not only gather new content they need for marketing and communications, but also to select only what they need and keep it all organized.

Seattle Aquarium Public Portal with Canto
The digital marketing team set up a Canto portal with pre-approved assets available to the public.

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.

Pam LamonDigital Marketing Manager

Results: Time and Orcas saved

With a 1150% increase in the digital marketing budget last year for a big website revamp, Pam’s team now plays a bigger role than ever. There’s no time to waste manually fishing for photos of octopuses or trying to remember the permission rights for certain assets, and Canto has freed the team from these time-consuming tasks.

With Canto, the digital marketing team has also been able to streamline their internal processes and communications with patrons, donors, volunteers and media, as well as support the nonprofit’s philanthropy and conservation efforts. 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,” said Pam. “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.”

Seattle Aquarium looks forward to continuing their conservation efforts with orcas and octopuses, among other marine animals, and educating the general public about ways to do their part in respecting our oceans – all made easier with a centralized asset library.

At Canto, we can’t help but agree that’s a DAM good use of our product.