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What Are Digital Assets?

Everything you need to know about digital assets and how they bring your brand to life.

In this in-depth article you’ll learn:

  • What file types are and aren’t digital assets.
  • How to classify your digital assets.
  • Why they’re important to your brand.
  • How to manage them.
  • Plus lots more.

Let’s get started!

Digital assets are at the heart of everything we do at Brandspace.

They’re all we focus on.

We’re here to create simple, easy to use, software for managing the digital assets that bring your brand to life.

To do this as best we can, and to help you manage your digital assets in the best way possible, it’s important to fully understand what we’re working with.

So… 

What are digital assets?

From the broadest viewpoint “digital asset” is a catch-all term covering three use cases:
  • Firstly, digital representations of a person or entity – think social media profiles, online avatars, IP addresses, user accounts.
  • Secondly, digital media files, such as photos, audio, video, text.
  • Thirdly, digital commodities like cryptocurrencies or newly emerging NFTs.
In the context of Brandspace, we focus on the area of digital media files and how businesses use them. So, we would define a digital asset as any digital media file that you own, that has value to your company, that can be uniquely identified via metadata. With such as broad definition, you could make the case that you can class anything digital as a digital asset. However, there are a few extra criteria that make the definition and classification of digital assets a bit clearer.

How is a File Classed as a Digital Asset?

Across these use cases, three criteria need to be met for a file to be classed as a digital asset.

Firstly, they must be digital files.

Secondly, they must be uniquely identifiable. You use metadata, that contains all the core information about the file, to do this.

And thirdly, they must have value to you or your company. This doesn’t always need to be a direct monetary value. 

For example, the value of digital media files is the contribution they may to representing your business and your brand; think brand codes like logos, colours or audio; or photography you use to sell your products or represent your brand in advertising.

Common Types of Digital Assets

If we’re just focusing on digital media, what does that cover? Here a some of the most common file formats:

  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Audio
  • Design files
  • Word documents
  • PDFs
  • Company branding
  • Presentations
  • Marketing content and collateral

What Files Aren’t Digital Assets?

As you can see from the list above, with such a broad definition you could think that every file you create is a digital asset.

But this isn’t necessarily the case.

To identify which of your files are digital assets you need to assess them against the criteria we previously outlined. Nearly all the files you create will have some level of metadata. 

So the key factor is value.

For example, your logo files have metadata and are uniquely identifiable as yours. They have huge value to your business by being a key brand code that helps you communicate who you are to the market.

Whereas, something like a screenshot or a design mock-up would have the necessary metadata but not the necessary value to be a digital asset.

After reading all of the above, the next question you might ask yourself is:

How Do You Know if a Digital Media File Has Value?

Our take is that it’s probably best not to overthink this assessment.

The simplest way to think about it is:

If your company has created the asset for use in your marketing activity. Or to support the growth of your brand. Or to contribute to the sale of your product. Then it will have value to your company.

Within that very broad criteria, there are going to be different levels of value. However, to determine if a file is a digital asset, this doesn’t matter.

All you need to know is that this media is an asset to your business and you need to manage it effectively.

In the world of branding where perception and recognition are two highly subjective but still important factors, consistency of use externally is highly important.

And this brings us on to another useful question to answer about digital assets:

Why Are Digital Assets Important to Your Brand?

Digital assets are the things that make you, uniquely you.

They:

  • Help you uniquely position your business in the markets you operate in.
  • Showcase your products and services.
  • And help evoke certain perceptions or emotions within your customers.

So if done right, the style of photography you use, the audio you use across your videos and radio ads, and even basic things like the colours you use, all communicate certain things to your customers.

And if you’re managing your brand assets correctly the things you are communicating through your assets will be constant across all of them.

They’ll work together to build a picture of who you are, ensuring you are easily and instantly recognisable.

One of the great things about storing all your digital assets in your Brandspace is having an overview of how they all look side-by-side. Seeing how they work together to build that representation of your brand.

For the value of a digital asset to increase, you need to use it regularly and consistently. In doing so, it becomes associated with your brand.

The pinnacle of this process is the few key digital assets that become “brand codes”.

What Are Brand Codes?

In short, brand codes are the digital assets that become uniquely associated with your brand. 

They support instant recognition. And evoke emotions with customers.

For example, McDonalds golden arches, Cadbury’s purple, and Nike’s swoosh.

It’s worth noting that brand codes can take decades to develop and build the necessary level of recognition and association within the market.

Okay, so we’ve talked a lot about the value of digital assets. What about metadata?

What is Metadata?

While value is a more subjective and difficult thing to assess and measure. Metadata is by its very nature the complete opposite.

It’s the data that outlines all the key information about your file. So the information is either there or it’s not.

And in terms of determining whether a file is a digital asset or not it contains the information that can associate the file with your brand. 

There are various categories of metadata. Read more about these here: https://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/metadata

As you can imagine there are a huge number of different types of metadata that sit within each of these categories. For example, some common asset metadata include:

  • Author
  • File size
  • Creation date
  • File type
  • Keywords
  • Image orientation

What is the Purpose of Metadata?

We know it’s important that we can uniquely identify the file using asset meta-data, but what else can we use it for?

In terms of DAM platforms like Brandspace, metadata is essential for managing your files once they’ve been uploaded. It gives you a multitude of ways to organise, sort and find your files.

What Are the Benefits of Using Metadata?

Outside the benefit of using metadata to ensure the file is uniquely identifiable. The benefits of it are huge, especially in terms of making your life easier. For instance, a file that’s easy to find is a file that you use.

Let’s look at three key benefits:

1) Metadata support consistency within your marketing material. Which as we mentioned when talking about value is an important factor in building distinctiveness and recognition within the market.

2) It also means you’re less likely to lose the file and need to recreate it. This one alone translates to huge cost savings over time and limits so much wastage. Furthermore, you also save on staff time that they would have previously spent on hunting down the files they need.

3) And if you’re looking for a file but aren’t quite sure what you need, you can filter through the files in your DAM software using different metadata criteria. For example: file type, file size, creation date, and categories and tags.

Who Uses Digital Assets?

The main user of digital brand and creative assets are your marketing team. They will work closely with your creative teams to design and create the assets that sell your business.

However, it’s not uncommon for your IT, Legal teams, as well as a range of suppliers to use your digital assets.

With so many people needing to use your creative brand assets, it’s important that you can manage them in the best way possible.

How do You Manage Digital Assets?

You can use internal servers, hard drives, and email to manage your assets.

However, this approach comes with many limitations. For instance, it’s hard to scale, not secure, and difficult to find and share files.

Instead, a better way is to use a digital asset management system.

Digital asset management (DAM) will save you time and money. And above all, a lot of stress!

Using a DAM system you can store, organise and access your brand assets in one central location. Furthermore, if it’s cloud-based your teams across the globe can easily collaborate.

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