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Digital asset management taxonomy: The structure in which you organize, categorize, & classify brand assets for your end-users.

Mapping a logical and clear digital asset management taxonomy is crucial to your DAM’s search, discovery, and ease of use. If your brand’s files are just thrown together in one big shared drive with a loose folder structure, it’ll feel overwhelming to browse your library, take forever to find the files you need, and make it impossible to know what content you have and don’t have. And this counteracts many benefits of investing in a DAM in the first place.

But by getting your assets in order and carefully game-planning migration, you ensure that your DAM system can really work for all of the teams that access and use your brand content.

This is where Brandfolder helps.

Not only did we put together this guide with all of our recommendations to build a strong digital asset management taxonomy and successfully make the switch to DAM software, but we also have a top-rated customer experience team to assist you throughout the entire onboarding process when you sign up with Brandfolder. You have an expert team to act as a second set of eyes and provide guidance when you need it.

Now, let’s run through the five steps to build and maintain your brand’s digital asset management taxonomy:

  1. Audit your existing assets
  2. Organize your assets for your DAM system
  3. Map asset metadata and tags
  4. Review and finalize your asset taxonomy
  5. Make updates as your asset library grows

Want to make the move to DAM software? Sign up for a free demo with our team to discuss your brand’s needs and see how our DAM system can help you organize and more strategically use your creative collateral.

1. Audit Existing Assets & Consider Your Current Organizational Structure

What’s the state of your storage drive?

The first step to putting together a digital asset management taxonomy is to look at what you have: Is your current storage solution organized? Are folders mapped logically? Can you easily find assets when searching?

Many teams come to us with a disorganized storage drive: Assets living in multiple places, outdated and duplicate assets causing confusion, and an unclear folder structure.

However, these file storage drives didn’t start messy, so we advise teams to think back to the folder structure they had initially envisioned: How were assets originally organized? Do you need to clean up your drive with the folder structure you mapped out in the past and optimize the old structure to accommodate new types of collateral? Or are you looking at a complete overhaul?

Once you decide where to begin, go through your brand’s asset library and start thinking of ways you’d like to re-organize. As you dive through your brand’s asset library, we also suggest doing a general clean-up:

  • Take note of duplicate assets, where they live, and if they need deleted or merged with an updated file.
  • Update file names and look at whether or not your assets follow strict naming conventions.
  • Delete old content you no longer want or need.

After you wrap up your review, you can start mapping out your asset library.

2. Organize Your Asset Library For Your End-Users

What makes sense to your teams & stakeholders?

When mapping your taxonomy design, don’t just aim for a “clean-looking DAM” — consider both the type of content you have to organize and the user experience (i.e., how end-users will navigate your DAM solution and find the assets they need).

Ask yourself: How do your teams search for content in your existing drive? What type of content do they need? If you were the one searching for this collateral, how would you prefer to browse?

If assets are too hard to find or your DAM is a headache to navigate (even if it looks “clean”), team members will be less inclined to use brand collateral. On the other hand, mapping an intuitive asset library enables self-service; meaning that all of your users can come into your Brandfolder and pull content for their unique projects without having to ask anybody for help. This eases the burden on your creative team to respond to asset requests and review digital projects, and it lets everybody work more efficiently.

Now, because the way you organize assets depends highly on your industry, the type of content that you have, and your teams’ use cases, we can’t spell out one specific way to map your asset library. However, we often see teams organize assets by:

  • Brand (in Brandfolders)
  • Product line or service (in Collections)
  • Location, department, or team (in Brand Portals)


We also see some teams use Brand Portals to organize sales collateral by customer, and promotional materials for marketing teams by season, campaign, or social media channel. What’s nice about Brandfolder’s flat taxonomy is that assets can live in multiple places, so you don’t have to create duplicates of your files if you want to store them in two different Collections or Portals.

Why Use a Folder Structure?

  • In a flat taxonomy, assets can live in multiple places. In a nested folder structure, you have to create duplicates if you want to store assets in different folders.
  • Flat taxonomy creates a visual plane and allows you to preview assets as you scroll. In a nested folder structure, you only see small thumbnails and have to open them to view.
  • Flat taxonomy allows for faster and more efficient searching. In a nested folder structure, you have to dig through folders and subfolders and search by file name to find assets.

Here’s an example of how one enterprise personal care company maps its asset library:

  • Separate Brandfolders for each business they own
  • Collections within those Brandfolders to organize branded materials (logos, colors, fonts, etc.) and assets for each product line
  • Brand Portals for each retailer/distributor that sells their products

To keep Collections clean, and guarantee that end-users who access product images can also find all of the relevant documentation about them, this company stacks product images and information together in asset containers.

Asset container

They also use the same organization and custom fields from Brandfolder to Brandfolder so anybody who interfaces with more than one of their brands can toggle between libraries and find what they need without learning different folder structures. This also makes it easier for admins to manage their DAM taxonomy in the long term.

Our team is available to help as you build out your asset library and re-organize your content. Since Brandfolder accepts all file types, you can store all of your brand assets in one digital asset management system and maintain the organization of all of your files.

You can read more about mapping your asset library in our other guide: How to Organize Digital Assets for Easy Sharing, Search & Use

3. Map Asset and Photo Metadata To Improve Search & Discovery

What type of information will you use to categorize and filter files?

Once you know how you want to organize your brand assets, the next step is to plan metadata (a.k.a. data that describes and provides more fine details about your brand assets). There are a few steps to this:

  1. What types of assets are you storing? Write down all of the types of assets — think images, videos, PDFs, templates, GIFs, logos, fonts, etc. — you have in your library. This will help us create Sections.


Sections appear at the top of every Collection or Portal to display the type of collateral stored within. As you switch between Collections, Sections will change to reflect what’s available to users. If you only have product images and templates for a certain collection, then the only sections displayed will be Images and Templates.

  1. What type of information do you want to keep track of with your assets? Add custom fields for different types of content.

Custom fields

This lets you classify data and create a controlled vocabulary for clearer organization and faster search. It also lets you store all of the relevant information about an asset in your DAM system. It’s important to remember that your custom fields will translate into the filters you use to search; think about the end-user again here as you plan custom fields for different asset types. We suggest keeping custom fields relatively consistent so users can navigate different sectors of your organization’s Brandfolder and use the same phrases to filter and search.

  1. Consider if you need to input any additional data about your assets for more granular reporting and search capabilities. You can add Labels to complement your Custom Fields, if necessary.


We recommend using labels when you want to store sub-information about a specific data point in your custom fields — labels translate into subcategories as you filter your search. For example, say one of your custom fields is Region and the input value is North America. You could create labels for Canada, Mexico, and the United States to include more specific information about the region.

After you decide on custom fields and the type of metadata you want to store in Brandfolder, our AI can do the heavy lifting and automatically add metadata and tags to your assets during upload. We’ll talk about that more in the next section.

4. Put It Down On Paper & Begin DAM Set-Up

Give your taxonomy a final look and double-check that the structure makes sense.

Does the organization of your assets make sense? Did you include all of the relevant metadata for your brand content?

Since our team assists with the entire process outlined above, it’s very rare that we decide to do any major reworking at this step, but it’s always good practice to make sure we haven’t overlooked anything before beginning ingestion.

Read More: 10 Digital Asset Management Best Practices From DAM Experts

Once your taxonomy structure is given the green light, we can move content into your DAM. We configure Brandfolder with your asset map and metadata information so that we can automate uploading: As content is pushed into Brandfolder, Brand Intelligence automatically organizes assets, assigns metadata and tags, and deletes dupes.

We plan this part of the process with you, too: Some teams can push all of their assets over at once. But brands with bigger asset libraries typically move assets over in waves. In these cases, we prioritize all of the content your teams use most frequently and push assets to Brandfolder in bulk, then we make a schedule to upload what’s leftover.

5. Optimize As Your Asset Library Evolves

Adjust as you go to keep your DAM working for you.

Brandfolder has features like duplicate asset detection, asset expirations, and user permissions to keep your asset library clean and prevent users from going rogue adding or deleting content they shouldn’t. As a result, you don’t necessarily have to do regular clean-ups in your DAM. However, we do suggest revisiting your DAM’s structure as your brand grows and evolves to make sure it’s still optimized for your users.

When doing this review, think about any new teams or partners that are accessing your assets, or any new types of creative collateral your teams are using. Is everything still organized in the best way?

It’s easy to edit your Brandfolder library when you want to change how assets are organized or modify custom fields, but as always, our team can provide guidance when adjustments are needed.

Start Building Your DAM Taxonomy with Our Team

There’s no single right way to organize your DAM. Even though taxonomies across organizations may have some similarities, they’re customized to each organization. If you follow these steps, you can put together a well-built taxonomy that’s fit for your organization and end-users.

Brandfolder is rated one of the best digital asset management software because our platform is highly customizable and we don’t believe in the “one-size-fits-all” approach to asset storage. Plus, our customer experience team is consistently mentioned in reviews of Brandfolder because we provide hands-on support to make sure that everyone who signs up with us can personalize Brandfolder for their teams and workflows with ease.

To learn more about building your DAM taxonomy and getting started in Brandfolder, sign up for a free demo with our team.