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The Definitive DAM Implementation Guide

by Ryne Knudson

Team members collaborating in an office environment

So you’re one of the many growing brands that have come to realize the need for a digital asset management (DAM) system. At this point, you’re at least somewhat familiar with the impact DAM can have on teams across an organization by improving the way they organize, access and distribute brand content.

Important factors such as security, scalability and, of course, cost have likely all been weighed as part of your DAM decision-making process. Still, as is the case with most any tool, DAM is really only as valuable as the amount of use it gets. When building a business case for DAM, this is where a successful implementation plan comes into play.

In this guide, we’ll cover four essential steps to a successful digital asset mangagement implementation plan:

Knowing what DAM implementation involves
Starting the discovery phase
Preparing for content upload
Creating a software adoption plan

Curious to learn more about the importance of DAM implementation? Watch this on-demand webinar on the keys to accelerating DAM adoption for widespread use and long-lasting ROI.

Truth is, DAM implementation isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. From ease of use to integrations, successful implementation is built around the specific needs of your business.

Different vendors have different implementation processes, but at a high level, the formula for success remains the same. At Brandfolder, we offer three levels of hands-on support (more on this later) so clients can choose the right one for their needs. However, most implementations should involve similar steps.

While some may take place at once, these seven steps offer a path to successful DAM implementation:

1. Project initiation meeting

You’ll meet your project manager for the first time. They’ll talk you through the process and review the project plan, milestones and timelines. They might send you homework in preparation for the next stage: discovery.

2. Discovery phase

You’ll work with your project manager to define the system requirements and structure for your organization. There’s a lot to think about here, but your vendor should support you through those considerations. This is where picking an experienced vendor with established processes will pay dividends.

3. System configuration

You and/or your vendor will begin building the system to your requirements. At this stage, you might choose to add some assets and test the system with a small number of users. It’s better to iron out any glitches or clear improvements now, with a few critical friends, rather than after you launch.

4. Asset upload

Once the system configuration is signed off, it’s time to upload those assets. This may be something you manage in-house, or your vendor may offer it as part of their service. It’s another exciting milestone as you see real-life files populating your new system.

5. Admin training

Your admins will receive training on all of the back-office functionality. They’ll be equipped to troubleshoot user problems, maintain the system and become all-around asset ninjas. This might be through self-serve online learning or remote or in-person training.

6. Launch

With your assets uploaded and admins trained, you’re ready to go live with your new system. To maximize user adoption and manage onboarding, do this as part of a planned communications and launch campaign. Party poppers and cake are optional.

7. Maintenance and support

When you’re up and running, you should receive ongoing support from your vendor based on your Service-Level Agreement. You’ll also receive product updates to install. Make sure you do this as it keeps the system running securely and smoothly.

Before your vendor can begin to structure your DAM, they’ll need some insights and input from you.

Don’t worry if you don’t know all the answers though. At Brandfolder, we’ll walk you through these questions step-by-step, using our extensive experience finding customer DAM success — spanning all types and sizes — to advise and guide you toward the optimum setup for your organization.

Assessing Assets

You’ll have to think about the assets and file types you plan to upload to your DAM. Roughly how many do you have? Where are they and how will you access them? What do you want to upload? What criteria will you set? We’ll cover more on this later…

View of Brandfolder Brand Intelligence and asset tagging

Structuring Discoverability

In a nutshell, the benefit of Brandfolder — and DAM in general — is the enhanced ability to store, discover and use assets. You can find the ideal images, videos or other brand assets for your project in just a few clicks by searching a curated collection.

To get the most of it, you’ll need to think about your structure and content taxonomy strategy. Taxonomy is one of those scientific words that makes things sound more complicated than they truly are. In this case, taxonomy just means having a system to name and classify your assets so they’re easier to find even without having a specific asset in mind.

At Brandfolder, we guide you through this, step-by-step. We’ve had lots of experience implementing our system in different sectors and will be able to recommend the best way to organize the platform to meet your needs.

For conent taxonomy, you’ll need to think about some key details:

It’s worth noting that in Brandfolder keywords can be automated, manual or a mix. For example, our AI-powered Brand Intelligence technology can automatically understand photos (learning objects that you commonly feature) as you upload them and tag them with keywords to describe their contents. At the same time, you can also choose your own keywords, either by creating a dropdown list of options or through a free-form text field.

Grouping Users

A DAM lets you assign users to a particular access group which determines their permissions within the system. While Brandfolder offers unlimited free guest users, you’ll need to think about how permission levels should be distributed at your organization and who needs to be in each group.

Typical user permission groups include:

View of user permissions in Brandfolder

Establishing Workflows

Some organizations have established workflows they need to consider, not only in managing their assets but in order to produce them in the first place.

For example, they might allow external contractors such as photographers or videographers to upload directly to their DAMs but want to check quality before approving files to be made available to the whole team. This level of control is easy to achieve with Brandfolder — you can use guest upload links and other sharing options to consistently manage workflows.

With assets available from a central location, you can set and forget access. When a change needs to be made, it’s automatically done for everyone, meaning there’s no need to monitor individual usage, and version control is easily maintained.

Planning for Asset Usage Options

To better support asset usage in common activities, presets can let users download images that are pre-cropped to standard sizes (such as hero images for websites) and have the right color profile and resolution for their intended use: digital or print.

view of image cropping in Brandfolder

Having these preset options readily available saves time, money and frustration as colleagues can easily self-serve assets that meet their exact needs. You also help maintain brand consistency since employees won’t feel the need to edit their own assets, and you can avoid adding time to the creative team’s schedule with fewer support requests. This also takes the guesswork out of the equation for the end user who doesn’t know the exact specs needed (i.e., posting on different social media channels) to ensure a quality option for their intended purpose.

Considering Templates

Not all DAMs offer brand templates, but Brandfolder does.

View of ad template example from Brandfolder

Design teams can create on-brand templates for regularly produced artwork, with editable text boxes and pre-agreed images to drop in. This empowers the organization to create custom, on-brand assets for a variety of uses without resorting to Comic Sans and clip art…

“We no longer have outdated images in presentations or in customer ads! The transition was seamless.” - Kiersten Kelly, National Account Manager, Russell Stover

Another area that’ll require some work on your behalf is deciding which assets to upload to your new asset library.

With often limitless capacity and easy asset discoverability through browsing and search, it could be tempting to just upload EVERYTHING you have. But it’s good practice to first build your DAM with the best selection of assets that help your business thrive.


Remember, you don’t have to do everything at once. With Brandfolder, you can get started with just one small corner of the system and grow from there. There’s no need to jump straight into company-wide distribution, workflows and templates. One of the benefits of starting small is that you get to test the system and receive feedback before a fuller rollout. This helps you identify champions who can help with future onboarding.

Upload criteria

There are various criteria that you can apply to decide whether to upload an asset. These may vary depending on the nature of your business or the needs of individual departments. The important thing is having those criteria and observing them.

Here are some criteria to consider:

Note that any one of these criteria might override the others. For example, an asset that’s older but still relevant and popular might make it into your DAM, despite its age. In this situation, it’s worth setting a review date to consider archiving it or replacing it in 12 months or so. Brandfolder can remind you to do this with archiving workflows and prompts.

Locating your assets

The next thing is to locate the assets that you want to upload. You might already have a somewhat structured file system and be able to find your assets fairly simply. However, most organizations also have secret stashes of assets on various platforms that aren’t so obvious.

Teams may have restricted folders that only they can see, and individuals could have asset files stored in personal folders or buried in their email inboxes. In many cases, these will be copies. But if they’re unique assets, you’ll need to think about the best way to get people to provide them to you.

Easy Implementation with the Brandfolder Onboarding Team

At this point, we’ve covered the implementation process generally. Now let’s look at Brandfolder’s onboarding process, which is designed to get you up to speed as quickly and easily as possible.

Our Implementation Team is made up of project managers and implementation specialists. They’ve successfully deployed DAM for hundreds of global companies across all industries. This means we have a lot of expertise to draw upon for your company’s implementation and unique business goals.

At Brandfolder, we offer three ways to carry out these onboarding steps to success, whether you’re a first-time DAM buyer or a seasoned expert, a start-up or a global Goliath.

Self-guided

Our lowest-touch offering for small- to medium-size businesses with straightforward deployments. We’ll provide in-depth training videos and how-to articles to get your admins up to speed on the Brandfolder application. Once your team has built out the environment, a Brandfolder PM will conduct an optimization review and provide feedback on your build.

Guided

Our medium-touch offering for harder-working deployments that need more expert consultation to provide value. Your PM will coordinate a kick-off call to review the project plan, milestones, and timeline; provide asset ingestion and metadata migration assistance (for up to 10,000 files); fully train your admins to get them comfortable with the Brandfolder application; and provide launch announcement sample materials and/or Q&A support.

Enterprise

Our highest-touch offering for complex, cross-functional team deployments that need tailored solutions and hands-on expert guidance.

The enterprise onboarding process includes:

Visit our onboarding and support services matrix if you’d like to learn more.

Customer support

Once your DAM is up and running, you’re in safe hands with Brandfolder Support. While our intuitive software keeps your teams engaged and operating smoothly, our Customer Success team can help keep things running behind the scenes when needed.

Our team is constantly improving knowledge base documentation and is available via phone, email and in-app live chat to help smooth out any and all kinks.

How long will it take?

Depending on the scale of your project, implementation will usually take between two and four months.

If you want to start small and implement an individual Brandfolder, you can be up and running in as little as eight weeks. Company-wide projects and more complex use cases can take longer.

We’ll discuss everything with you before we start, to make sure you have a realistic understanding of the timetable and process.

“The Brandfolder team was great in helping us migrate our assets from dropbox and organize them on the new platform. They’re also extremely responsive to feedback. Onboarding our team here was easy, thanks to a user friendly interface. Really can’t say enough good things.” - Lisa W., G2 reviewer


If you’re implementing Brandfolder — the world’s most intuitive DAM — this stage will be relatively straightforward. Our software is designed so that users can log in and start exploring straight away. Our learning curve is a molehill, not a mountain.

Getting widespread adoption of software can be difficult, especially in enterprise-size organizations. However, when it comes to primary drivers of ROI, effective implementation, onboarding and user adoption are essential.

Put simply, the ROI of new software increases with user adoption. That’s why having a software adoption plan is key to the success of your rollout. Your chosen software might have amazing potential to deliver cost savings and operational efficiencies, but if people don’t use it, that full potential isn’t realized.

For in-depth information on this important process, read our article on software adoption.

What is a software adoption plan?

A software adoption plan is just a structured way to think about how you’ll introduce your new software to people and get them to use it. It’s all about communication, training and support.

Some of the stages to think about are:

Gaining buy-in

Any project is easier when you have the right people in your corner. So a key part of adoption planning is to identify who can help — or hinder — your efforts. One way to do this is by using the interest/influence matrix.

The interest and influence matrix for implementation

Once you’ve identified likely champions and challengers, it’s worth engaging with them. Challengers might need a little extra effort to get onboard, while champions can help you promote the new software more widely within the organization.

Having executive buy-in is important too. Senior staff can advocate for your project if there are conflicting budget or resource needs and can help remove roadblocks to encourage use if adoption is slow.

Implementaion communication

Timely communication about your project helps set the stage. When writing your communication plan, think about the who, what, when and how of your messages.

From the watercooler to WhatsApp, all offices gossip and chat, so communicating early will ensure you’re in control of the dialogue about your project.

When moving from one system to another, it’s helpful to weave in references to how it’s being replaced as part of these communications.

If you’re part of an enterprise-level organization, engage with your internal communications team for guidance and to faciliate updates.

Onboarding

Even with an intuitive system like Brandfolder, users are likely to need some level of training. So planning how you’ll train colleagues is an important part of your software adoption plan.

The type of training you deliver will depend on the size of your organization.

For example, in a small organization, you might simply be able to hold a short demo, invite colleagues to explore the system, and personally support them with any queries. But in a larger organization, you might need to schedule a series of training sessions and monitor attendance.

There are lots of ways to deliver software training, and your software vendor should be able to help you with this process, for example, through:

In a larger organization, you may be able to get support from your staff development department too.

It’s important that once people have received training, you maintain momentum and make sure they’re using the software. Otherwise, you’re not going to achieve the potential and ROI you’re hoping for.

Supporting slow adopters with gamification and other creative strategies will help with this process.

Ongoing support

One of the biggest pitfalls we see when people implement a DAM system is not planning for ongoing management and maintenance of the system.

Setting up your DAM is an important step to transforming how your organization manages its assets. But it’s just the start. To see year-over-year ROI, the system needs to be properly maintained.

This isn’t necessarily a full-time job (though a digital asset manager can be at larger organizations), but it does need to be resourced. So think now about who’ll manage the system and what that will involve. Make it part of your project plan and include it in your budget request.

Some of the ongoing activities you’ll need to plan for include:

Read our article for more in-depth information on creating a software adoption plan: Driving enterprise software adoption: Four steps to an effective software adoption plan.

Ready to Implement DAM for Your Brand?

That’s our definitive guide to successfully implementing a Digital Asset Management system and, most importantly, maximizing ROI through effective onboarding.

Choosing an intuitive DAM like Brandfolder is a smart way to fast-track this whole process. Software that’s simple to use makes user adoption easier and reduces the time you need to spend training and supporting people.

Reach out to Brandfolder for a free demo of how DAM can be built for your brand and implemented with ease.