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Organizing Digital Assets:
7 Tips for Success

Organizing digital assets can be a pain. Especially as your brand grows.

In this post, we look at 7 awesome tips to help you organize your digital brand assets. 

First, The Problem

As your business grows the amount of marketing collateral you produce will also increase. Product shots, logos, promotional photography, video, audio, sales material.

It’s a long list that keeps getting longer.

And before long you have files saved everywhere.

People are sending countless large emails with attachments. Then these get saved all over the place.

Creative teams save files on hard drives. Or sometimes internal servers. Most of the time with no naming systems. And if you’re lucky they’ll tell the rest of the team where they’re saved.

Marketers set up new campaign folders and duplicate files. Or unnecessarily end up having to re-do promo shots because they can’t find suitable imagery.

What a nightmare!

Digital Asset Organization

So it makes sense to create a plan for organizing your digital assets.

The sooner you do this in the life of your company the better. The reason being it’s a lot easier to start of with a strong foundation. 

Trying to retrospectively improve things is always trickier.

However, if you’re an established business already experiencing the problems we just touched upon, all hope is not lost.

You can still achieve digital asset organization zen. 

It’ll just take a bit more effort.

To help get you on the path to digital asset management enlightenment, we put together seven top tips for organizing your digital assets.

1. Use Digital Asset Management Software

The single best thing you can do when managing your media assets is to use specialist digital asset management software. Often shorted to DAM.

Firstly it will provide a single location to store everything. 

Additionally, most, if not all, are cloud-based these days. The best thing about this is you can access your media files from any location.

This alone is worth investing in DAM software over the alternative of using internal servers or hard drives.

Along with providing a single source of truth for your digital files, DAM will offer a range of specialist asset management features.

Things like:

  • Proper organisation through categories, tags and metadata.
  • Powerful search functionality to help you find the file you need.
  • Ample storage that scales with your needs.
  • User management for better control over who uses your assets.
  • Brand guidelines so everybody is on the same page.

2. Build a Strong Foundation - Define how you Will Categorise, Group and Tag Your Digital Assets

So you’ve selected the digital asset management software that’s best for your brand. 

Excellent!

The next step is to spend some time planning how you will structure it.

This step is all about building a strong foundation for organizing your media assets. Get it right and the system will scale with you as you grow. Get it wrong and things get just as complicated as they were when you didn’t have the DAM software.

Our top tips?

  1. Keep categories broad and restricted. You don’t want too many. The reason for this is too many categories will clog up your navigation. It will also increase the chance single assets can sit in multiple categories. While this isn’t the end of the world, it does make things slightly harder to find.

  2. Use tags for more specific groupings. Tags compliment categories perfectly. Where categories are more rigid and limited. Tags can be used more freely. 

  3. And look for a DAM system that offers the ability to create collections that add a layer of flexibility to your standard taxonomy. Collections are a great way of creating temporary groupings of assets that are broader than tags but not needed permanently as a category would be.

For example, collections are a great way of grouping assets for seasonal marketing campaigns. A tag would be too narrow, you don’t want to clog up your categorisation, so a temporary collection of assets for the campaign makes perfect sense.

3. Gain Control With User Permissions

Technically user permissions aren’t essential to your digital asset management efforts. You could manage your assets with everyone in your organisation having full access to all assets in your system.

However, user permissions provide the huge benefit of giving you extra control over your digital assets and how you manage them.

Things like making sure sales teams can only access the material that’s relevant to their market.

Or regional teams only being able to access lifestyle photography that’s suitable for their region.

You might only want certain teams uploading images. Or to at least give final approval to a digital asset manager.

So when it comes to digital asset organization, being able to control user permissions is definitely something you want to take advantage of.

4. Make Use of Metadata

Metadata is a key component of digital assets. It’s the data that outlines all the key information about your file. 

The problem is it can be a pain to write comprehensive metadata for all your digital assets.

So most people get lazy and don’t bother.

While you can get away with this because modern DAM systems are designed to function well just using core data like categories and tags. Writing rich metadata for all your assets provides so many benefits to managing and organising your digital media files.

For one, good metadata enhances the search functionality in your DAM system massively. This is because things like rich text descriptions offer the chance of essential search keywords being associated with your asset.

Better keywords equal better search.

Metadata also helps when filtering your digital assets in your DAM system. Things like filtering by:

  • Upload date
  • Asset size
  • File type
  • File orientation
  • Modified date
  • Tags
  • Categories

In short – the better your metadata the easier you’ll be able to find the assets you need. Which means more time saved.

5. Keep Digital Assets Safe - Security and Backups

The last thing you want to happen is to lose all your valuable digital assets.

Having them saved all over the place increases the risk of this happening massively. Additionally, saving them on poorly maintained hard drives is an accident waiting to happen.

Using a specialist DAM system is definitely your best option to solve this problem.

All your assets will be in one place, so you know where they are. Secondly, it makes backup and protection much easier.

When reviewing the best digital asset management system for your needs pay particular attention to:

  1. Where assets are stored – what location are the servers.
  2. How they are protected and backed up.

Look for cloud storage. Plus regular backups stored in different server locations.

6. Clear Guidance - Everyone Using the Same Processes to Organize digital Assets

If you’ve implemented everything we’ve run through so far you’re well on your way to digital asset organisation enlightenment!

However, these last two points will ensure success over the long term.

The first step is to create a clear plan for how you would like to manage your media files. There’s no one size fits all approach for these. This is because every brand will have different needs. However, common things to think about include:

  • What should be stored
  • How people should use categories tags and collections
  • How people should write up metadata
  • Brand guidelines
  • Creative guidelines
  • Quality checks

The trick is to keep any guidance you create short and easy to follow. Anything too long or complex is going to sit gathering dust.

Once you’ve agreed on a plan, make sure everyone in your company knows about it. That includes long-time employees and every time someone new joins.

7. Edit Ruthlessly - Don’t Use Your DAM System as a Dumping Ground

The final point we want to run through is all about editing.

It’s all too easy to think the job is done once you’ve perfectly categorised your assets and they’re nicely saved in one place.

However, as you create more assets and roll out more campaigns it’s easy for things to get clogged up.

We recommended a review once or twice a year. Asses your digital assets against your brand, creative and quality guidelines. Then retire any that no longer meet your standards.

Doing so will greatly reduce the risk of poor quality or outdated media being used.

Keep in Touch.

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