To give brands greater agility to rapidly create high-impact customer experiences and increase its own competitive edge, Brandfolder moved to Google Cloud Platform, using AI-powered solutions and fully managed cloud services to enable an efficient and focused development team to improve customer experiences.
Building a strong brand in today’s hyper-competitive business environment takes vision. It also requires a flexible, easily managed approach to digital asset management (DAM), so marketing professionals and other stakeholders can easily share, store, track, and manipulate assets to build the brand.
Many of today’s leading companies, including JetBlue, Slack, TripAdvisor, Lyft, and HealthONE, rely on Brandfolder to deliver consistent, organized, and efficient brand experiences. Brandfolder provides an easy-to-use platform that can scale across an entire company with little end-user training, empowering customers to distribute digital assets wherever they are needed. Customers also gain much greater insight into how those assets are used, and how to use them more effectively in marketing campaigns and brand messaging.
“Google Cloud made it easy to build an ML platform to quickly iterate through different brand intelligence use cases and release data-driven product features into the Brandfolder platform.”—Ajay Rajasekharan, Head of Data Science, Brandfolder
Brandfolder is constantly advancing its development efforts to introduce new data-driven features without complicating the user experience. Big data, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) are key to meeting customers’ unique business needs, and essential for Brandfolder to compete in the fast-moving DAM industry. To enhance these capabilities, Brandfolder sought a public cloud provider that could help it scale its data pipeline cost effectively while providing access to advanced AI technologies.
After graduating from the Techstars startup accelerator program in 2013, Brandfolder tried two other cloud providers before standardizing on Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
“We saw a difference with Google Cloud from the very beginning because the interactions felt like a strategic relationship,” says Jim Hanifen, Head of Product at Brandfolder. “Google gave us startup credits and a lot of face-to-face support, which we hadn’t experienced with other cloud providers. We decided to move our entire infrastructure to Google Cloud Platform.”
Building an ML platform for brand intelligence
After performing an initial lift-and-shift migration of virtual machines (VMs) onto Compute Engine, Brandfolder built an ML platform using GCP managed services to seamlessly deliver its data products. The platform leverages Cloud SQL, Cloud Storage as the data lake, Cloud Dataproc for cloud-native Apache Spark computing clusters, Cloud Composer as the batch job scheduler, Cloud Pub/Sub as the backbone data pipeline, Container Registry to store Docker images, and Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) as the application orchestrator. Cloud Dataflow brings data into the data lake and into BigQuery for analysis.
“Google Cloud made it easy to build an ML platform to quickly iterate through different brand intelligence use cases and release data-driven product features into the Brandfolder platform,” says Ajay Rajasekharan, Head of Data Science at Brandfolder, who describes the architecture in a detailed blog. “We simply ingest raw application and event data on one end and output an ML service on the other.”
“Moving to Google Cloud Platform allows us to complete more sophisticated data analysis and ML models much faster, and at a much lower cost. We can create brand-specific ML models 12x faster and get them into production quickly to address our customers’ unique business needs.”—Brett Nekolny, Head of Engineering, Brandfolder
For many general use cases, Brandfolder does not need to build custom ML models, and instead relies on pre-trained API models from GCP. For example, it uses Vision API and Video Intelligence API to auto-tag creative assets on import to enable fast, intuitive searches across images and videos. When more product- and brand-specific modeling is required to address unique customer use cases, Brandfolder builds and trains custom ML models using its GCP pipeline or Cloud AutoML, a suite of products built on Google transfer learning and neural architecture search technology. For example, if a Brandfolder customer makes different types of grills, Brandfolder can use AutoML Vision to train a model to recognize the different grills.
“Moving to Google Cloud Platform allows us to complete more sophisticated data analysis and ML models much faster, and at a much lower cost,” explains Brett Nekolny, Head of Engineering at Brandfolder. “We can create brand-specific ML models 12x faster and get them into production quickly to address our customers’ unique business needs.”
Industry-leading security and performance
Google Cloud’s security model helps Brandfolder give existing and prospective customers peace of mind that their data will be protected. Cloud Identity & Access Management (Cloud IAM) provides enterprise-grade access control, while Cloud Identity-Aware Proxy (Cloud IAP) enables remote users to work more securely without the hassles of a VPN client. GCP also isolates cloud resources into projects, making it easy to assign permissions and keep data and VMs organized and segregated.
“With Google Cloud, everything begins and ends with security, which makes things very easy for us,” says Jim. “If we’re under a security review, we can submit a Google security white paper. If a potential customer has security concerns, we tell them we are hosted on GCP, and those concerns go away.”
To give customers even better application performance for accessing their brand assets, Brandfolder uses Cloud Memorystore, an in-memory data store service for Redis, to cache data and provide sub-millisecond data access for production applications.
“It was much easier for us to use Cloud Memorystore versus running Redis on our compute instances,” says Brett. “The high availability, replication across zones, and automatic failover with no data loss are big for us.”
Global private network interconnects between Google Cloud and the Fastly content delivery network (CDN) dramatically reduce latency, allowing Brandfolder’s customers to deliver and update even very large creative assets quickly around the world.
“What’s beautiful about the relationship between Google and Fastly is that if one of our customers uploads a new version of an asset, we can propagate that out to Fastly, and the new version will automatically show up in all the places where it’s referenced,” says Brett.
“The ability to quickly solve problems with AI has a substantial impact on our revenue, and that’s more apparent every quarter. Few of our competitors are doing product- or brand-specific modeling because it takes a lot of time and resources. We overcame those hurdles with Google Cloud.”—Jim Hanifen, Head of Product, Brandfolder
Improving employee and customer productivity
Brandfolder also uses Google solutions for real-time collaboration and productivity, using G Suite to connect employees with intuitive, cloud-based apps. Teams use Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Drive, Sheets, Slides, and Hangouts Meet every day to move the business forward. Many of Brandfolder’s customers are also G Suite users, and Brandfolder offers a plug-in that allows them to view their creative assets inside of Docs and pull images in as needed. Customers can also log into Brandfolder with their G Suite credentials, making the solution even easier to use.
“We’ve been using G Suite since the beginning, and it’s helped us collaborate efficiently to build a successful, growing company,” says Jim. “Our teams expect to have that kind of close collaboration, and everyone here enjoys the G Suite experience.”
Driving 99 percent annual business growth
With automated tagging and other innovative AI-based features, Brandfolder is helping customers locate and distribute assets faster. As a result, Brandfolder is building customer loyalty and increasing sales, growing its business by 99 percent year-over-year. Since moving to GCP, Brandfolder has been able to scale its analytics and data pipeline 50x without a corresponding increase in costs and has not had to expand its development team.
“The ability to quickly solve problems with AI has a substantial impact on our revenue, and that’s more apparent every quarter,” says Jim. “Few of our competitors are doing product- or brand-specific modeling because it takes a lot of time and resources. We overcame those hurdles with Google Cloud.”