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When you store assets on your desktop or in cloud storage drives like Google Drive or Dropbox, using accurate file names is indispensable. If you don’t have a consistent file naming structure, you can spend forever digging in folders and subfolders searching for the content you need. Not only that, but it can be hard to keep track of what content you have (and don’t have), and you can experience clutter and confusion when you have duplicate assets or multiple file versions.

That’s why digital asset management software like Brandfolder is best for teams with a lot of files and brand assets to keep organized.

DAMs operate on a flat structure and analyze your entire asset library when you do a search, and they have robust search capabilities to inspect the content of your files — DAM software like Brandfolder doesn’t rely on file names to pull relevant content when you search.

Instead, DAMs improve asset search and discovery of assets by:

  • Following a clear digital asset management taxonomy instead of housing files in folders and subfolders.

  • Ingesting and organizing all brand assets — even rich media like videos and 3D assets— in a centralized library.

  • Keeping all relevant file information, metadata, tags, and labels at the asset level.

  • Detecting duplicate files and providing version history for assets.

  • Automatically expiring old assets and keeping your asset library up-to-date.

  • Using advanced artificial intelligence — Brand Intelligence — to instantly analyze your entire asset library and scan the content of assets to find everything related to your search term.

As long as your file name follows some logic, DAM software can fill in the blanks and pull all of the relevant assets when you use the search function.

In this post, we talk about how to use DAM software to organize your asset library and quickly find content when you search (without having to remember file names). We’ll also talk about how to clean up your asset library before moving your content to a DAM, and cover Brandfolder’s features to manage your files once they’re in our platform. Then, you can organize your brand assets in the best way possible and make sure your teams have all of the tools to strategically leverage brand content for digital projects.

Digital asset management software goes beyond the capabilities of cloud storage drives and gives you more advanced ways to store and search brand assets — they automatically keep assets organized as you acquire more files, and they have version control to keep your library current. See how you can effortlessly maintain a clean and current file library: Schedule a free demo of Brandfolder.

The Problem with Relying on File Naming Best Practices to Organize Your Digital Assets

Before we talk about moving to and organizing assets in DAM software, let’s touch on the basics of file naming conventions and some tips to follow when naming files in cloud drives. Then we’ll explain why relying on file naming best practices to maintain long-term file organization isn’t the best method.

First, file naming conventions (FNC) are defined as, "a framework for naming your files in a way that describes what they contain and how they relate to other files." (Purdue, 2022)

In other words, file naming conventions are the standard rules you follow for naming files. In order to keep a clean library and improve searchability, all new assets that are added to your library should follow the naming "rules" you set.

Here is an example of a file naming convention: [ProjectName][ContentType][YYYYMMDD]_[VersionNumber].xxx

In practice, this would look like: SonataQuarterlyUpdates_EmployeeMemo_20220115_V2.docx

Then, other collaborators that find this file can see it is an employee memo detailing the quarterly updates for the Sonata brand, it was created Jan 15, 2022, and it is the second version of this memo — and they know this all before opening and previewing the file.

There are a few "dos" and “don’ts” for naming files in traditional folder/subfolder storage solutions. (These best practices also apply when creating folder names.) For example:

  • Do be consistent in file names, and make sure that anybody adding files to your library knows how to correctly name files as well.

  • Do use underscores, dashes (hyphens), or camel case (capitalize the first letter of each word) to break up words.

  • Do provide version numbers for files so you can keep track of revisions.

  • Do add the date when naming files, and follow the same format (YYYYMMDD, YYMMDD, YYMM).

  • Do use zeros to group multiple files with similar names — for example, a series of related photos — and use two-digit sequential numbering (e.g., 01, 02, 03) to sort them in numeric order.

  • Don’t use long file names — try to keep names as short as you can.

  • Don’t use special characters, spaces, periods, or slashes.

  • Don’t use unclear abbreviations or acronyms.

  • Don’t use generic terms when naming files — as we saw in the example above, specific identifiers improve browsing.

However, even if you follow all of these rules to a T, it can be challenging to keep your library organized as you build more content. This is for a few reasons:

  1. There’s no way to actually control the content being added to your library, so users can still upload files without the correct naming conventions.

  2. Even if you name asset versions, you still have duplicate content floating around in your library and creating clutter.

  3. There’s no way to automatically expire old content, so you have to do periodic clean-ups to keep your library current.

Not to mention, cloud storage drives do not accept all file formats, so if you have creative assets (Photoshop files or Indesign templates), rich media like GIFs, or 3D assets, you have to store them separately, follow the same naming conventions across storage solutions, and then jump between storage drives to find your brand assets.

That’s why you’re better off moving all of your content into a DAM system: You can centralize your brand assets, and take advantage of advanced features to improve asset organization and management.

Now, let’s talk about how to make that switch.

How to Organize Assets in Digital Asset Management Software

Brandfolder’s digital asset management software houses all of your brand content in one single source of truth: Our DAM accepts hundreds of formats, we help you map out rules to organize brand assets before you start migrating content, and Brand Intelligence automatically organizes assets for you when you upload.

The first step when moving to Brandfolder is to sit down with our team to evaluate the state of your current storage drive. Then we can determine what you need in a digital asset management solution to improve upon your old processes and streamline workflows for all of the users who access your collateral.

Read More: Digital Asset Management Strategy: 10-Step Checklist

After we talk about how to customize Brandfolder for your use cases (i.e., choose storage space, add users, set-up integrations, select additional features), we help you map out your digital asset management taxonomy — or how your assets will be organized in Brandfolder.

Next, it’s time to do a clean-up of your storage drive and pinpoint the priority assets you want to move to your DAM system first. Most of the time, teams have hundreds (if not thousands) of brand assets but are only actively using a fraction of them — so we pinpoint that fraction, and then migrate the rest of your content in manageable batches.

Apart from pulling priority assets, the clean-up process involves:

  • Deleting duplicate or old content you no longer want: Note the "no longer want." This step is only for deleting content you’re OK parting ways with. If you want to save multiple versions of assets, we can group them together in Brandfolder and automatically assign version numbers so you can keep track of duplicate files and asset edits.

  • Renaming files (when applicable): You don’t need to follow strict file naming conventions when keeping assets in DAM software, so you only need to update your file names if they are completely wonky. File names just need to follow some logic, so for example, you could title an image of a red umbrella as "Red Umbrella'' or “Umbrella."

Once we’re done auditing assets, we can begin moving your priority assets to Brandfolder. Before upload, we configure Brandfolder to automatically place your files in the correct spot based on the rules you set for asset organization.

In Brandfolder, assets are organized in Brandfolders, Collections, and Brand Portals.

taxonomy

Brandfolders and Collections work similarly to folders and sub-folders. Brandfolders hold all assets related to a specific brand, and Collections live within Brandfolders to organize groups of related assets. For example, a mattress retailer may create separate Brandfolders for each brand of mattress they carry and then have dedicated Collections within each Brandfolder to organize product images by product line.

Read More: Digital Asset Management for Retail: 7 Benefits of DAM for Retail

Brand Portals also live within Brandfolders but, as their name suggests, they serve as portals for specific end-users. So you can create portals for each department in your company, and then organize all of the assets those users would need within those portals. One of the biggest perks of using Brandfolder is that assets can live in multiple places (without needing multiple versions), so you can keep access to the same assets from different Collections and Portals.

As you migrate your content over, Brand Intelligence organizes files and automatically adds metadata and tags so you can see all of the asset details within the overview. You can also create a "map of metadata," so Brand Intelligence knows to add certain details to certain assets, or manually add extra metadata or tags to your content. Then all of this metadata information fuels asset search and discovery.

metadata and tags

With Brandfolder’s flat taxonomy, you have all of the organizational benefits of the folder/subfolder structure, but none of the digging and clutter that goes along with it. Instead, you can keep assets in multiple places and enjoy a flat view of your library as you search.

Finding & Using Assets in Brandfolder

Brandfolder has a robust search functionality that scans your entire asset library when you start a search — or, at least, all of the assets you have access to. Brand Intelligence finds what you’re looking for by scanning your entire library, asset metadata, and the actual content of your files. It uses all of the information it has about your assets to pull every file related to your search term.

In other words, file name is just one part of Brandfolder’s search. In the chance that you have files with incorrect names, Brand Intelligence will still be able to find exactly what you’re looking for by using the other asset information and metadata available.

When starting a broader search, you can narrow down the results with sections, labels, pins, and filters — to sort content by type (e.g. spreadsheets vs. videos), digital project (e.g., case studies vs. newsletters), and a variety of other factors.

  • Sections: Sections let you organize assets into buckets based on any classification — not just file type. For example, you could have sections like "Lifestyle Images," “Print Collateral,” “Blog Content,” “Social Media.” You can define sections as you wish and create an infinite number of them.

  • Labels: These let you add information about the asset’s use case. For example, a label could be, "Seasonal Ads," and you could have sub-labels like “Fall,” “Spring,” “Summer.” Then you could add the “Seasonal Ad” and “Summer” labels to your asset and know it’s used for the summer advertisements.

  • Pins & Tags: Pins let you search assets by tags. They pull from the most commonly-used tags, but you can also manage your pins if you want to get more granular with filters. For example, you could create a pin titled "Smile" and specify that you only want the pin to pull .jpg files; so that pin would pull images with the tag “smile.”

  • Advanced Filters: These let you sort assets by custom fields, file type, date created, and other metadata information.

Brandfolder mockup

Then, once you find what you need, you can quickly:

public share link

  • Push assets to other software in your tech stack via integrations and Brandfolder’s API.

  • Modify assets for digital projects (without altering the original) and download them from Brandfolder.

Brandfolder provides a number of tools that help you use and re-use assets for different projects, publish content online, and monitor asset usage. These include:

Pre-approved brand templates, such as sales or marketing collateral templates, to repurpose assets in branded collateral. This feature allows graphic designers to upload templates from InDesign, specify how they can be personalized, and share them with other teams for use. Then, other teammates can access them when they need and use them without asking designers for a review.

templates

A convert & resize tool to change an asset’s file format or resolution before downloading or exporting.

download options

A custom & preset cropping tool to instantly crop assets for different online channels. Brandfolder provides presets for popular sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, but you can create custom crops for other sites where you publish content, such as your website or blog.

crop and export options

A built-in content delivery network (CDN) system to publish content directly from Brandfolder. You can embed assets across the web by copying and pasting the asset’s unique CDN link (found under the Embed tab in the asset overview) where you want to publish. Then, your content is hosted by Brandfolder, and any changes you make to the asset in Brandfolder are reflected in any place that CDN link lives; all asset updates are automatic. Publishing content with Brandfolder’s CDN system improves brand consistency and eliminates tedious brand management tasks like swapping assets after they’re edited.

cdn

A customizable reporting dashboard so you can monitor asset performance and digital projects. This reporting feature provides many at-a-glance reports, such as "Top Performers," listing your brand’s top-performing assets, and “Top Users,” showing you who’s viewing, downloading, and sharing your assets most often. However, you can also look at the metrics for specific assets, change the report view or modify the date range, and oversee online publishing with this feature.

insights

brand intelligence

With Brandfolder’s suite of features to use assets, you can strategically repurpose collateral and leverage asset insights to make decisions in future digital projects.

Maintaining an Organized Asset Library

Once you move your content into Brandfolder, we do the heavy lifting to keep your assets clean and current; that way your DAM library stays organized as you acquire more content, and you don’t have to bother with clean-ups.

The first way we do this is by detecting duplicate assets during future uploads. Any time users upload an asset to Brandfolder, Brand Intelligence does a scan to make sure it doesn’t match any existing files in your library. If our software detects a duplicate file, it’ll alert the user and prompt them to either (a) cancel the upload, or (b) store the duplicate with the original file so you can reference both.

duplicates of image2

Next, Brandfolder has an expirations feature so you can set assets to automatically expire on a certain date. This feature is helpful if you have collateral for limited-time campaigns or seasonal assets. For example, say a clothing brand is running a back-to-school sale and has a variety of images and graphics to upload on their website advertising the sale: They can upload this content to Brandfolder, set expirations when the sale ends, and publish the content on the website or post it in their marketing newsletters via CDN link. Then, when the sale is over, the content will retire along with it.

Note: Expired assets are still available in your Brandfolder, in the event you ever want to reference or refresh them, but they’re displayed with an "Expired" banner so others know the content is not currently approved for use.

We also let you control who can add, remove, edit, and approve assets in your library via user permissions. Permissions prevent users from going rogue and ensure that all of the assets in your library are approved (by the right people) and on-brand.

Brandfolder permissions infographic

Brandfolder also provides collaborative tools so teams can communicate on asset updates and reference past notes. Within the Workflow tab, you can comment on assets, tag other users for feedback, push assets to native editing apps for changes, monitor edits, and keep track of old versions of a file in the version history.

modal

Then, when asset updates are completed and the new version of the asset is approved, the file is automatically updated in Brandfolder for other users and any place the asset is embedded online. Automatic updates make sure that all users are viewing and working off of the same versions of assets, improving asset version control.

Read More: Digital Asset Management Version Control

Start Managing Your Digital Assets with Brandfolder

Digital asset management software is the natural next step after you’ve outgrown cloud storage drives like Google Drive and Dropbox because they expand upon those functionalities and give you more robust ways to manage your brand assets — not just store them.

DAMs make storing and sharing files easier because they abandon the traditional hierarchical storage structure and provide a dynamic way to store assets for a variety of use cases and purposes. Assets are organized by set DAM taxonomy rules, and the search function is powered by more than just file names, helping you find exactly what you need in a large library of assets.

Ready to explore DAM software and see how Brandfolder makes storing, searching, sharing, and using assets fast and easy? Sign up for a free demo of Brandfolder to explore our DAM’s features and see how you can tailor the platform to support your needs.

Read More: How to Find the Best Digital Asset Management Tool for Your Teams