Interested in working more efficiently? Has the remote office disrupted certain aspects of your business? Today we provide an intro to digital asset management (DAM) and explain how it can help you and your team save time and money no matter where you are.
Recently, you may have heard the term “DAM” or “Digital Asset Management” thrown around your workplace. For many reasons, including the prominence of remote work, the growing digital marketplace, and the rise of omnichannel marketing strategies, DAM has become increasingly relevant to many people and organizations. No longer is it a niche skill for online retailers. Every company produces more digital assets than they did five years ago, so managing them has become vital to continued success.
While DAM has become much more important and relevant to the day-to-day execution of tasks, it is still new to most people. Because of this, we aim to break it down in a way that makes sense, using three simple “DAM” definitions.
What Does “DAM” Mean?
1. What does “Digital” mean?
Digital is the most straightforward of the DAM definitions. When you think of the word “digital”, what do you think of? Most likely your mind goes to computers and TV screens and iPhones, and this isn’t too far off-base when it comes to what the “digital” in “digital asset management” refers to. Your organization likely creates a ton of content in a ton of different ways. You likely have creative files, documents, pictures, videos, and print materials in some form.
All the content that can be stored on a computer would fall under the “digital” label because it would be made up of what’s called “binary data”, which is a fancy way of saying it is composed of data that a computer can see and understand. Much like our eyes need light to make out shapes and colors, computers need binary data to do the same.
What does this tell us about the meaning of “digital asset management” or “DAM”? DAM deals with all the content that can be stored on your computer or hard drive, not your file cabinet.
2. What is an “Asset”?
The next question in our journey to define DAM is, “What’s an asset?” We know that the assets involved in DAM are in digital formats, but there are a few other qualifiers to narrow down this definition and provide a clearer picture of what DAM is.
Let’s go through the same exercise we did when defining “digital”. When you hear the term “asset”, what do you think of? That question may conjure thoughts of balance sheets or bank statements or finance classes from college. Sorry for that, but it isn’t far off. Assets are simply items with intrinsic value. They are worth something to you and others, often because they can be used to generate value in other ways.
Combining these first two definitions tells us exactly what digital assets are. They are digital, meaning they can be stored on a computer, and they are assets, meaning they generate value for you and your business. Not every piece of digital content your organization creates is valuable, and some are more valuable than others.
3. How do I “Manage” assets?
Differentiating and organizing these digital assets based on their value to the business and the way that they generate that value is where the “M” in DAM comes in. The management component is the most important in providing a clear definition of digital asset management. It is where the tools, standards, and processes involved in the utilization of digital assets come into play.
While there are a lot of tools and standards and processes we could expand on at length, below are just a few that we think are some of the most important.
- DAM Systems – Technology allows for the management of a high volume of assets using simple or complex workflows. DAM systems come in many shapes and sizes, from on-premise servers to high-end, cloud-based, dedicated digital asset management software purchased from vendors.
- Permissions – Defining who has the ability to access, edit, delete, share, and move files within a digital asset library. Permissions keep your digital assets safe and secure and insulate your organization from the risk of assets of lesser value making their way into the wrong hands.
- Metadata – Data about your data – keywords, captions, locations, photographer name, and more. Metadata makes assets searchable and filterable within many DAM systems, making them easier to find and use.
3 Questions Digital Asset Management Attempts to Answer
1. Where Do Our Digital Assets Live?
You and your team must figure out the best way to store your files in order to make accessing and searching for them as simple for your organization as possible. Here are some things to consider:
- Should my files be stored locally or on the cloud?
- How should assets be organized within my library?
- Is a DAM platform right for my organization?
- If so, what are our required features for a DAM platform?
- What is our budget for a DAM platform?
2. How Do I Find Our Digital Assets?
Once you have determined the location of your files, you’ll want to determine the process for easily searching them. Organizing your assets intuitively and educating your team on how to locate them is key to streamlining your workflow. Here are a few questions to consider:
- What kind of folder structure is right for our team?
- How should our files be named?
- What kind of keywords should we apply to our assets?
3. Who Has Access to Our Digital Assets?
The final major consideration in the digital asset management process is ensuring your files are secure. Deciding who can access, share, and edit your files is vital to maintaining the integrity of your brand. Below are the specific questions to answer to make sure your assets are safe:
- Can contributors outside your organization have access to your library?
- What is the process of sharing assets across or outside of your organization?
- Should sections of your folder structure be password-protected?
- What kinds of copyright, licensing, and usage permissions are attached to your assets?
What Does DAM Look Like in Practice?
Implementing Digital Asset Management can be overwhelming. Here are some ways Stacks has helped our clients:
Determining a File Naming Convention
Having file names that make sense is one of the most effective ways to organize, search for, and locate your assets. A good file name can give your team a snapshot of the file’s origin, use, and relationship with other assets. For this reason, it is important to name all files in a standard way. See the following example for a solid standard for file naming:
Applying Metadata to Assets
Once you have determined the type of metadata you need and how to organize it on your assets, you will want to develop a plan for applying that metadata to your assets. For example, the Stacks team applied metadata to digital assets for the Baltimore Ravens by first creating a Master Keyword List using the Ravens’ internal language and then applying those keywords to their assets:
Creating a Folder Structure
“A place for everything and everything in its place.” This is the simple idea behind building an intuitive folder structure based on the workflow and language of your business. With this kind of organizational standard in place, your library becomes scalable, easy to navigate, and directs users to the assets they are looking for without using a search bar. Here is an example of a high-level folder structure built by Stacks:
Whether you are a national company with $10 million in revenue, or an international brand with thousands of employees, creating effective processes and standards for managing your digital assets is critical to the success of your business. To learn more about Digital Asset Management and all its specifics, check out our blog, or contact Stacks for a free meeting to discuss your workflow.
We hope this intro to digital asset management has helped answer some questions around assets, metadata, and more. Are you eager to learn more about DAM but still don’t understand how it can improve your business? Check out our resource highlighting the Benefits of DAM.