Dropbox is a popular cloud storage provider because they have a simple platform and tiered packages to support different users — they even offer a free plan for users who don’t have a ton of digital content. Overall, it’s a high-quality file storage and file sharing solution and it gets pretty good reviews.
However, at its core, Dropbox is a traditional cloud storage drive, so it’s mostly suited for individuals or small businesses that don’t need much beyond file storage and file sharing. Many teams and businesses eventually grow out of Dropbox and need something more robust to better manage — not just store — their digital files.
The natural next step is digital asset management (DAM) software. DAMs expand upon the capabilities of cloud storage drives and give you a multitude of other ways to:
- Oversee your asset library to keep it organized and up-to-date
- Improve the accessibility of your assets so everybody who needs them can find them
- Control how others interact with your asset library and use your brand collateral
- Keep track of sharing, monitor asset usage, and gather data on how assets perform with your target audience
- Boost productivity and allow all of your teams to work more efficiently
So in this post, we’ll introduce you to a handful of digital asset management systems — starting with our DAM, Brandfolder (voted best DAM software of 2021 by both G2 and Capterra) — so you can learn about the top-rated options. Then, in the end, we’ll also discuss a few other cloud storage providers for individuals who only need a very basic file storage and sharing solution.
Brandfolder Digital Asset Management System
Our digital asset management software, Brandfolder, is not a “one-size-fits-all” software solution — we don’t pigeonhole you into preset packages and force upgrades every time you need more storage space or access to a new feature.
Instead, Brandfolder is completely customized for you and your teams from day one: We give you access to all of our standard features, then you pick the storage space, add-ons, and integrations/APIs you want to connect. Then, before moving over to our software, our hands-on customer experience will meet with you and gameplan the entire transition process so it goes as smoothly as possible.
Best of all? Brandfolder scales with your team. You can change storage space, add (or subtract) users, modify your add-ons, or connect new integrations whenever you want. And our team will be there to help along the way. This is how our solution can work for so many businesses, and why we have a 98% retention rate with all of our customers.
Let’s talk about a few ways Brandfolder is more advanced than your standard cloud storage drive like Dropbox.
1. Design Your Asset Library in a Way That Makes Sense for Your Teams
First, Brandfolder lets you organize your assets in the most logical way for you and your teams. We’ll even help you map out your asset library and its organization (a.k.a. your asset taxonomy) before you begin moving assets over, so you’re not left to tackle that sometimes rather daunting task on your own. Strategically mapping assets gives your asset library a logic that perfectly matches how you actually use your assets. In turn, this improves the overall user experience, simplifies sharing, and improves the accessibility of your assets for all end users.
Our DAM also accepts all asset types and file formats, including images, brochures, business cards, Adobe files, templates, videos, audio files, PDFs, Excel spreadsheets, Google Docs, fonts, color HEX codes, logos — you name it. That way you can store all of your brand’s files in one spot instead of having to use different storage drives for different sets of assets.
We forgo the typical “folder/sub-folder” structure and allow teams to organize assets in Brandfolders, Collections, and Brand Portals.
- Brandfolders house all of the assets related to a specific brand. Many teams just have one Brandfolder, but marketing agencies or retailers with digital assets for a variety of brands can create separate Brandfolders for each brand they manage.
- Collections live within Brandfolders and allow teams to organize related groups of assets. You can create separate Collections or product lines or services, types of collateral, seasonal campaigns, etc.
- Brand Portals are groups of relevant assets for specific end users. You can create Portals for different teams or departments — which is super beneficial for global brands that have regional teams. We’ve also seen large retail brands create separate Portals for each of their distributors. With Portals, each of your users is logging in and accessing just the assets that are relevant to their roles or projects.
On top of allowing teams to establish an organized asset repository, Brandfolder also has tools to maintain that organization…even as your library grows and you have a billion (and one) users interacting with your assets.
- Duplicate asset detection prevents users from uploading dupe files and allows teams to merge similar assets for quick reference; this way you don’t have duplicate asset versions cluttering your library or causing confusion.
- Our real-time collaboration tools allow teams to work on asset updates directly in Brandfolder, so you always have the most recent versions of assets in your DAM. (Version history tracks all edits so you can access old versions and see how an asset evolves.)
- Review and approval flows ensure that an admin checks all new assets before they’re available in Brandfolder for other users, preventing just anybody from adding assets to your library.
No matter how you organize your asset library, our advanced search functionality makes it simple to find the exact asset you need with just a search term — no more digging through folders and subfolders or racking your brain for exact file names every time you need an asset. More on that below.
2. Improve the Search & Discovery Of Your Assets
Brandfolder’s search functionality is extremely convenient and time-saving for a couple of reasons: 1) It searches your entire library — at least all of the assets you have access to — instead of limiting your search to specific Collections or Portals, and 2) It’s powered by our proprietary AI technology, Brand Intelligence, and can actually analyze the content of your assets to pull everything relevant to your search.
So instead of trying to remember exactly where a file is saved or its specific file name, you can use the search bar and type product names, colors, background imagery, fonts, and so forth, and Brand Intelligence will find all of the brand assets that relate to your search.
Note: Brand Intelligence AI also comes into play during uploading — it analyzes assets upon ingestion to automatically add all of the appropriate metadata and tags, and this data also improves the search and discovery of assets.
When your teams can easily search the assets they need, and discover new assets related to their projects, everybody can more effectively use all of the creative collateral your design team spends time and energy making.
3. Have Greater Control Over Asset Sharing (& Asset Usage)
Brandfolder also expands upon the basic sharing methods you’ll find in cloud storage platforms, so you can fully control and monitor how/when/where assets are shared and with whom.
There are two ways to share digital assets in Brandfolder:
- You can share assets with other team members by adding them to the Brandfolder, Collection, or Portal you want to share. When you add team members with user permissions, you can control exactly how they interact with your asset library (and individual assets). You can also add team members to singular assets or groups of selected assets if you want to get more granular with sharing.
- You can use custom share links to send assets to non-Brandfolder users (i.e., stakeholders, external collaborators, freelance partners, etc.). We allow unlimited free guest seats and never put limits on sharing.
Share links are convenient because they allow you to share files directly from the Brandfolder platform instead of sending large files via email, but they’re also valuable because they let you track asset sharing.
With custom share links, you can:
- Give the link a unique name
- Require an email address to open the link and access the assets within
- Set the link to expire
- Watermark your assets or disable downloading for end-users
- Add or remove assets at any time
- Set alerts to be notified when shared assets are opened or downloaded
In Brandfolder, you can view all active and expired share links, and, if needed, make modifications to your active links.
4. Use Brandfolder As a Single Source of Truth to Power All Your Projects
DAMs are also way more beneficial than regular cloud storage solutions because they function as a single source of truth — meaning, you can use Brandfolder to power all of your online publishing and support your other digital projects. Our DAM even has a web-to-print feature so you can push assets directly to print, too. Let’s talk more about how all of this works.
Brandfolder is built with a content delivery network (CDN) system, a variety of out-of-the-box integrations, and an open-source API.
Our CDN system assigns each asset a unique URL. This URL can be copied and pasted across the web (e.g., on your website, in email marketing campaigns, in blog content, etc.) to host your assets online. When you use Brandfolder to publish digital files online, you can take comfort in knowing that all of your online collateral is current and on-brand, as all updates made at the Brandfolder level are automatically reflected any place the asset’s CDN link is embedded.
Integrations and our open-source API allow you to sync Brandfolder with all of the tools your teams use in their workflows — such as content creation apps, content management systems, sales enablement software, project management tools, messengers and productivity platforms, etc. — so you can push assets directly from Brandfolder into your other projects. This allows teams to work more efficiently and guarantees everybody is always using the right versions of your assets.
5. Leverage Asset Insights to Monitor How Your Branded Content Performs
Last but not least, Brandfolder also outdoes Dropbox and other cloud storage options with its reporting capabilities. Although Dropbox offers reporting features with its premium plans, they are pretty limited (and, as we mentioned, only available for enterprise users who pay for the more expensive packages).
Brandfolder’s powerful reporting tools are fully customizable to track any data you want to dig into, over any time frame, so you can look at how your users are interacting with your assets and see which assets perform the best with your target audience.
For example, you can use our reporting tools to see:
- How many times an asset has been viewed, downloaded, or shared
- An asset’s “Event Feed,” which shows a detailed history of when an asset was downloaded or shared over time
- Which users have viewed, downloaded, or shared your assets
- Top-performing assets and most active users
- The URLs where your assets are embedded online
- And more
These insights and analytics help you refine business and marketing strategies, plan new creative, and better control your brand image.
Ready to take the next step and try digital asset management software? Schedule a free demo with our team to learn more about our custom solution (and custom pricing) and see exactly how Brandfolder can support your teams.
Other Digital Asset Management Software Options
When researching the top-rated digital asset management software, you’ll also see Canto, Bynder, and Widen Collective listed as popular options. Each of these DAMs is high-quality and well-reviewed, but they all have their differences — as a result, they’re all designed for different end-users.
In this section, we’ll review these other DAMs and who we recommend them for.
Canto is a well-known digital asset management software brand because they were one of the first names in the space. In addition to offering a cloud-based version of their DAM solution, they also provide an on-premise and hybrid version of their software for teams who need a self-hosted DAM (i.e., anybody who would want better control over data storage or backups, teams who want to operate on a private server). iPhone users also like the fact that Canto offers an iOS mobile app, which is rather uncommon for DAM brands.
Traditionally, Canto has been a popular choice amongst small businesses because the platform is pretty simple and easy to use, and they offer plans at affordable prices. However, with that being the case, many teams grow out of Canto and reach a point where they need to switch to a more advanced DAM.
Canto has released some features to appeal to larger businesses, but they’re still not the best digital asset management solution for enterprise teams because they don’t offer free guest seats (meaning they charge you every time you share outside of the platform). So even though Canto is budget-friendly for small businesses who don’t need to do a lot of file sharing, it can be rather costly for mid-size and big businesses to use.
Instead, mid-size and enterprise businesses should consider Bynder.
Bynder, like Brandfolder, is another versatile DAM that works for a large variety of teams and businesses — even if you’re a small business, you can use Bynder and add storage space and extra features when you need them.
Bynder offers a pretty advanced digital asset management solution: In addition to acting as a secure cloud storage solution for your digital files, the platform has dozens of features and integrates with 50+ other tools to help you use your assets. However, the downside of those advanced features is that they can be somewhat difficult to navigate, and training teams to use Bynder can pose a challenge.
Overall, Bynder offers a good product and receives positive customer reviews. That said, Bynder gets pretty low marks in the customer service department. Not only did we read this in customer reviews, but when talking to customers who were leaving Bynder or shopping for Bynder alternatives, we heard that Bynder’s customer service team can be impossible to get a hold of… and less than helpful once you do. As a result, transitioning to Bynder’s platform is virtually impossible if you aren’t super tech-savvy or have the internal resources to help.
The last DAM on our list, Widen, is an enterprise DAM+PIM solution for large B2B and B2C brands that need an advanced product information management (PIM) solution in addition to their digital asset management software. So in other words, software that lets them store all of their brand’s digital assets and all of their product information documents in one platform. Widen’s DAM is one of the most advanced options available, and its price reflects its uber-robust feature set.
Considering just how advanced Widen’s platform is, the software isn’t overly difficult to learn and navigate. Training your teams to use the software can take a couple of weeks, but Widen also has a bank of “Widen University” videos to help your teams get adjusted more quickly and independently.
While Widen is a great option for global brands that have a need for all of the extras Widen offers, it can be way too advanced and expensive for smaller teams. Teams who don’t need all of Widen’s features can save money by choosing a simpler solution (as they wouldn’t use half of the features Widen provides, anyway).
Alternative Cloud Storage Services to Use Instead of Dropbox
If you’re not quite ready for digital asset management software, you might want to consider some of the cloud storage providers below. Box, SpiderOak, and Sync.com are a little more advanced than basic options like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud, and Amazon Drive, but they don’t have a ton of extra features, so they’re still easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
Note: If you’re just shopping for personal cloud storage drives, one of those basic options listed above may be the best cloud storage solution for your needs. They offer up to 5GB of free storage space and require no training.
Box is a cloud storage and secure file sharing solution that’s built to let users store and collaborate on digital assets: It has more collaborative tools than other cloud storage drives, and it connects with a variety of other tools to help your teams work more productively. (However, it doesn’t support much beyond file storage, file sharing, and team communication.)
Box lets users start with a free account, but they also offer a number of paid packages to accommodate different teams, and all of their paid plans are moderately priced. For example, the entry-level business plan is $5 per user per month. However, some users don’t like Box’s tiered pricing model because they split up the features amongst the different packages, requiring users to upgrade to a whole new package just to access a couple of extra features or more GB of storage.
Box also sells extra products like Box Sign so users can send important business documents and receive electronic signatures instantly. They also have iOS and Android apps so you can access your files on your mobile device from anywhere you have an internet connection.
You can read our other post to learn more about their platform and shop the best alternatives to Box.
Sync.com is another popular cloud storage drive because it has a modern feel, intuitive interface, and is really easy to learn. They also stand out because they pride themselves on their security protocols, keeping your files protected using end-to-end encryption.
In addition to serving as a storage drive, Sync also has features to streamline file sharing and improve collaboration. Sync is a go-to option for individuals or small teams that are searching for Google Drive alternatives and want a cloud storage provider that’s a little more user-friendly.
Sync offers a variety of packages to fit different users, including both small teams and big businesses. (However, we really only recommend them for smaller teams since big businesses will likely need DAM software to manage their digital files.) They even offer 5GB of free cloud storage for new users. Many teams praise Sync because they offer unlimited storage plans, so it can store the largest of files, and all of their packages are affordable.
You can get started with Sync by signing up for a free plan on their website.
The last option on our list, SpiderOak, is a cloud storage solution designed exclusively for business professionals who need highly secure cloud storage — we’re talking federal agencies, government contractors, those in the healthcare field, etc.
Their platform is one of the most secure cloud storage solutions online because they use blockchain technology in their security measures to prevent outsiders from accessing your data and files. They also sell different versions of their software to meet different storage needs.
SpiderOak is built with several collaboration tools to encourage better team communication. They also offer secure:
- Messaging and file sharing
- Data storage & backups
- Software development tools
- Spacecraft communication — yes, you read that right
Considering the nature of SpiderOak’s product we really only recommend it for businesses who need to store confidential data and cannot risk that information becoming compromised. Plus, it can work for businesses of all sizes since they offer budget-friendly prices.
Get Started With Brandfolder’s DAM Solution
Digital asset management software is the next step for teams and businesses that have graduated from Dropbox’s cloud storage drive and need software that gives them better control over their asset library and digital files. If you think you’re ready to make the switch, Brandfolder is a perfect solution because we do more than provide good DAM software, we actually provide all of the onboarding and support services to get you successfully transferred over from your old platform.
Our customer experience team is available to help you decide if you’re truly ready for DAM software. Then, we game plan the entire transition process with you and help every step of the way. To learn more about the Brandfolder platform and connect with our team, click the button below.