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What Is Digital Asset Management (DAM)?

by James Winter

A collage of digital assets

Digital asset management (DAM) is a system of software designed to centrally store and manage digital content. Most importantly, DAM provides a way to increase campaign productivity and ensure brand consistency.

Is your company having a hard time keeping up with your digital assets?

Ultimately, the best DAM platforms organize your assets in the way that maximizes their value for your brand. Its features help you do things like automate workflows, set expiration dates for asset licensing, and set varying levels of user access for files, folders, projects and entire campaigns. With in-app analytics, DAM software can also show you how creative assets are performing.

When files are stored across multiple devices and platforms, the unfortunate truth is they often go to waste. A cloud-based DAM platform centrally stores all a brand’s assets, giving users the ability to securely collaborate on content from wherever they’re located. As workflows take place within the platform, feedback is attached directly to in-progress projects, meaning communication is never lost in translation or buried in email.

In this post we’ll go into depth about DAM software and how it helps teams get organized and stay on schedule.

Read along, or skip ahead as we cover:

What is a digital asset?
Benefits of digital asset management
Who uses digital asset management?
How does digital asset management software work?
Top digital asset management use cases

Know how much asset distribution disrupts your team? Find out in The DAM Maturity Guide and see where your brand has the most room to grow.

A digital asset is an image, audio file, presentation, video, and any other branded content or media that often have usage rights or licensing requirements. These files may be in several formats, such as PNGs or JPGs for images; WAVs and BWFs for audio files; PSDs and TIFFs for design files; PDFs and Word docs; and more. In any case, these files increase exponentially over time, so a DAM platform should be able to support a wide range of media file types (although not all of them do).

Digital asset management software will keep internal and external teams organized within a single source of truth. It allows for quick access to relevant files, automated workflows, and the ability to manage permissions for individual pieces or entire asset collections.

The list of benefits that brands find as a result is wide ranging for organizations inside and out, but there are a number of common themes.

  1. Find digital assets fast with little to no training
  2. Customize asset organization
  3. Keep all asset-related collaboration within a single platform
  4. Prevent duplication of digital content
  5. Ensure digital assets are never unused
  6. Access and share files with anyone, anytime, anywhere, and on any device
  7. Create and collaborate on digital assets in one place
  8. Easily distribute company content across digital channels - CMS, social media and more
  9. Maintain brand consistency
  10. Set expiration dates for licensed assets
  11. Identify opportunities for repurposing digital assets
  12. Analyze how assets are performing, where they’re being used, and who is using them

How does Duo Security save their creative team more than 10 hours per week with Brandfolder? Click here to watch the video.

There are two types of DAM users: Internal and external. Below are a few example use cases:

Internal Users

Creatives

In-house creatives such as graphic designers and photographers can use a DAM system to access branded assets and upload new creative files for review and distribution. These users will appreciate the built-in integrations for tools they regularly use such as Adobe Creative Suite and project management software.

Sales & Marketing

DAM software can help sales and marketing teams collaborate on branded collateral for use in sales pitches and presentations as part of streamlining entire campaigns.

IT & Legal

IT professionals can benefit from DAM by easing the burden on resources needed for managing permissions and system maintenance. It also has the ability to streamline metadata management and the creation of custom configurations through API connection and seamless integrations.

Legal teams also find DAM systems useful, as expiration dates can be added to assets to minimize the risks of compliance and misuse.

External Users

Agencies

DAM systems allow agencies to easily share assets with external clients, relay client feedback, and take projects from pending to approved.

Contractors & Partners

Companies can easily make assets available to external contractors and partners as part of joint campaigns to sell services or collaborate on products.

digital asset management user leverages Brandfolder

DAM software enhances seven essential aspects of a brand’s operational efficiency with digital assets: creation, organization, collaboration, distribution, storage, and performance measurement.

Let’s take a closer look at how DAM improves each of these areas.

Creation

Teams with DAM can scale projects by leveraging integrations with creative tools like Adobe Creative Suite, native video editors, and project management applications such as Smartsheet, so teams can create new assets without toggling between platforms.

Example of a summer catalogue template stored in the digital asset management system

Organization

Brands are producing exponentially more assets than ever before. DAM software acts as a central source of truth for organizing and tracking that digital content.

You can use tags, filters, and advanced search capabilities – such as in-document search and image recognition – to quickly retrieve files from asset libraries of any size.

DAM platforms such as Brandfolder also allow users to add metadata tags to any file type, track version history, assign access levels and permissions, set collection expiration dates, and use AI to detect duplicate asset uploads.

Setting asset approvals in Brandfolder Brandfolder’s custom approval rules maintain the integrity of assets.

With custom approval settings, you can reduce the risk of redundancies and ensure that assets are never distributed erroneously.

CASE STUDY: See how the global marketing team at PF Chang's is able to bulk-manage their digital assets with Brandfolder and save hours of time each month.

Collaboration

After uploading assets, users can comment, pin annotations, make edits, and in the process, streamline the entire review and approval process.

View of asset annotations and proofing in Brandfolder Team members and clients can comment on files and communicate within the platform.

Collaboration extends to any asset type or media content, from PDF documents to design files and videos. Organizations can access and update files from anywhere, so teams can collaborate with the right people no matter where they’re located.

Distribution

A DAM system enables assets to be published anywhere, from one cloud-based location.

Distribute assets directly from your DAM using public or private links, and for added security, you can set expiration dates for links.

Embed assets directly into your website, so visitors and media outlets can access the most up-to-date logos, bios, and brand imagery. Every time an asset is edited, or a new one added, it’s automatically updated at the point of distribution.

CASE STUDY: See how Spyderco, a global leader in cutlery, streamlined management of brand assets for their worldwide manufacturing and distribution network.

Storage

A DAM gives agencies and brands true digital asset storage for unlimited files, of any size, in one secure, cloud-based location. This is critical when storing larger assets such as high-res imagery, video, and audio files.

File backups, custom user permissions, and rights management features enhance the security of stored assets. While storage is unlimited, users can set asset expiration dates, to reduce unnecessary virtual clutter.

View of asset storage in Brandfolder Assets stored in Brandfolder

A DAM gives agencies and brands true digital asset storage for unlimited files, of any size, in one secure location. This is critical when storing larger assets such as high-res imagery, video and audio files.

File backups, user permissions and rights management ensure all assets are stored securely.

Performance & Measurment

On-premise and traditional cloud-based storage systems are limited in what they can tell you about asset usage.

Using a DAM to monitor and track performance of digital assets Brandfolder’s asset usage insights.

A digital asset management solution can provide detailed analytics and insights about asset views, placements, and engagements. You’ll be able to see how activity has trended over time and use that information to more accurately assess the ROI of brand assets.

Easy Integration

A DAM system can be integrated with other tools and cloud-based platforms, such as project management software, content management systems, and image editing software.

Now that you have a general knowledge of what digital asset management is and its benefits, let’s take a look at the business case behind DAM software.

Use digital asset management software to maintain brand consistency

Did you know that customers are more likely to purchase from a brand they recognize? Because of this, Fortune 500 companies make a proactive effort to maintain brand consistency in their marketing and advertising campaigns.

87% of buyers prefer brands that provide consistent customer experience across all channels. (Source: Zendesk)

Maintaining a brand identity and standards is easier when you have a DAM platform. You can restrict access to legacy files and ensure that only the most up-to-date assets are accessible, so users can create, manage, share, and collaborate on assets and rich media without deviating from your brand guidelines. Once creatives have finished designing an asset, they can streamline production on simple tasks by saving the layout as a template so that approved users can quickly repurpose the design.

Use digital asset management software to gauge asset ROI and insights

A DAM solution makes it easier to gather, manage, and interpret data from multiple sources, giving you valuable insights on how to maximize the use of your digital assets to support your business goals.

Brandfolder offers insights such as views, downloads, and shares — by user, by asset collection, or by organization.

digital asset management librarian working on computer An example of Brandfolder’s analytics dashboard.

Use digital asset management software to keep your content secure

Keeping your assets secure at all times is as important as it can be difficult to manage. Files can be corrupted, servers can crash and fail, and files can become lost due to mismanagement. DAM software eliminates all these risks because it stores and secures all your digital assets in the cloud.

Cloud-based DAM systems come with features like version control, rights management, and data encryption for file transfers and storage. Additional security enhancements include SAML & SSO identity management, and routine application and infrastructure testing to detect any security vulnerabilities that could compromise customer files.

Use digital asset management to improve campaign collaboration

A digital asset management solution creates an environment built for collaboration. When your creative teams use a file sharing platform that serves as a “central source of truth,” it’s easy for everyone to be on the same page, regardless of their location, time zone, or department.

Digital asset management solutions allow you to define role hierarchies and user permissions across all workflows. You can ensure each user has access only to the files or tasks that are most relevant to them, and you can automate alerts that tell your team and external stakeholders when action is required.

Use digital asset management software to accelerate asset access

Finding a specific digital asset can be time-consuming and frustrating when files are stored across multiple platforms and folders.

In fact, employees without access to a DAM system spend five times longer looking for the right assets.

DAM software uses AI to attach relevant metadata tags to assets, based on what it “sees” when you import assets. The platform also reads and stores any existing metadata, and users can edit, add, or delete tags to improve asset search results.

Digital asset management speeds up time-to-market

When scaling your digital presence, time is of the essence. You can’t afford to lose minutes or hours to inefficient processes. Yet, 46% of marketers report wasting time due to downloading and uploading assets using multiple tools, and 51% say they have wasted money on campaign assets that they can’t locate.

As discussed, a DAM platform allows you to store, organize, and retrieve assets quickly. Within the context of any campaign or creative workflow, this helps move steps along while minimizing redundant and costly rework. You can also keep all feedback within the platform to eliminate the delays that typically come with lengthy email-based feedback chains.

The result: faster launch of compliant and on-brand marketing campaigns

Use digital asset management software to mitigate compliance risks

Keeping track of licensing agreements and expiration dates is a challenge when you have a massive database of photos, audio files, videos, and logos. Non-compliance with such agreements can result in fines and tarnish your brand’s reputation.

Digital asset management systems come with a digital rights management (DRM) feature that ensures all copyright information is up-to-date and that all licensing agreements are upheld. With the ability to set access permissions, licensing expiration dates, and automated licensing expiration alerts, you don’t have to track licensing and permissions outside of your DAM system.

See how DUO Security is able to scale their asset creation and useage while saving hours of work each month. Click here to watch the story.

Frequently asked questions

What is a digital asset management system?

A digital asset management (DAM) system is software that allows businesses to organize, distribute, collaborate on, and securely store digital files that make up a digital asset library. DAM platforms contain features such as permission controls, rights management, and asset performance analytics.

What are examples of digital assets?

Digital asset examples include any digital files used as part of a business's brand presence. They are often creative and marketing materials, such as images, video, word documents, PDFs, graphics, and design files.

How do I choose the right digital asset management solution?

Five things to consider when choosing the right digital asset management solution for your business:

  1. Look for unlimited internal and external user access.
  2. Test search intuitiveness and ease of use.
  3. Review integrations for compatibility with current creative project workflows.
  4. Address security and rights management concerns with permissions settings.
  5. Consider platform customization and personalization for brand consistency.

What is the difference between a CMS and a DAM?

A content management system (CMS) is used to build, display and publish content on your brand's website, whereas a digital asset management (DAM) system is designed to store, manage, manipulate, and monitor all brand assets individually.

When should I invest in a DAM?

Any brand or business with a growing digital asset library should consider investing in digital asset management software (DAM), in order to increase efficiency, improve asset performance, strengthen security, and accelerate production timelines.

What does a digital asset manager do?

A digital asset manager is responsible for the taxonomy, metadata, performance measurement, storage, and secure distribution of an organization's digital assets. Brands often have a digital asset management (DAM) system in place before hiring a digital asset manager.

Are you ready for a digital asset management solution?

If you need a better way to manage digital assets, track publishing rights, and maintain brand consistency, it’s time to consider a DAM solution.

Are you ready to take control of your assets?