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DAM 101

Breaking Down the DAM Tools in Your Digital Asset Management Toolkit

Ben Owen

By Ben Owen | Aug 29, 2022

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You wouldn’t trust your repair person if they weren’t familiar with the tools they kept in their toolbelt. It’s funny to think about, but for so many of us in the business world, we're like a repair person who doesn’t know what tools they have. We have a whole box of useful tools that we either aren’t aware of or don’t understand how to use.

Often, this is a result of employees either voluntarily or involuntarily taking on new responsibilities in areas they aren’t experts in. One increasingly common example of this is creatives and marketers being tasked with digital asset management (DAM) responsibilities. If you or someone you know is in this situation, this article will equip you with knowledge of the tools available to you and how to use them effectively.

The Digital Asset Management Toolkit

Like any good repair person, you should have an understanding of what lies in your toolbox. When it comes to digital asset management, here's a high-level overview of what tools are at your disposal. Not all these tools will be available to every single organization or individual, but many of them will be.

Folder Structure

An intuitive folder structure is the most straightforward way to organize digital assets for efficient search, access, and sharing. It’s likely that any DAM system or dedicated DAM platform that your organization uses for asset storage can create folders to house different groups of assets. If your folder structure uses language that makes sense to your organization and its members and is built out using folder structure best practices, you’ve taken a huge step in making your digital assets easy to find and use.

Read More about Folder Structures here

Metadata and File Names

Like folders, metadata, and, more specifically, file names are probably available to many employees getting started with DAM. Metadata is usually the most powerful tool in your toolbox. Think of it as the power drill that enables you to work far more efficiently and effectively than if you were putting in screws by hand. Metadata and file names, when properly utilized, allow end-users to quickly search for and find the asset they need, regardless of the volume of assets in the library.

Read More about Metadata here
Read More about File Names here

DAM Permissions

Permissions are the most important security tool available to you when it comes to keeping your assets safe. Depending on the system your organization uses to house your assets, there may be a large range of permissions structures you can implement. In the end, the purpose of this tool is to ensure that assets are only accessible to the teams that need them. This way, the likelihood of an asset being used on the wrong channel, in an incorrect way, or at a bad time significantly decreases.

Read More about Permissions here

Brand Guidelines

Effective brand guidelines that are easy to follow and enforce ensure that all the assets that make their way into your DAM system are on-brand. Like permissions, this decreases the risk living in your system. The primary purpose of digital asset management is to allow teams to more effectively execute their content strategy; maintaining brand consistency is a huge part of that effort.

Read More about Brand Guidelines here

DAM System/Platform

The system that your assets live within is an important tool that enables you to fulfill your DAM responsibilities more effectively and efficiently. However, it can be more of a hindrance than a help if it doesn’t have some of the features you need. Finding the right DAM system, whether it’s a dedicated DAM platform or something simpler, enables you and your team to use all the other DAM tools listed here more effectively.

Read More about DAM Systems and Platforms here

Artificial Intelligence

Many of the previously mentioned tools in your DAM toolkit are fairly accessible to most organizations and employees. The next few on this list are more icing on the cake than the cake itself, should your organization have a bit more budget or place a high priority on digital asset management.

Some DAM platforms feature integrations with artificial intelligence (AI) that allow you to train models to enrich assets with custom metadata automatically when they're added to the system. While AI can’t be depended on fully for proper metadata enrichment and requires large amounts of capital and time to implement effectively, it can provide significant value for organizations willing to make the investment and can continue to govern the DAM program even after its setup.

Read More about Artificial Intelligence here

PhotoMechanic/Adobe Bridge

PhotoMechanic and Adobe Bridge are both creative tools that allow you to embed custom metadata templates to assets before they're added to the DAM system, saving your team time tagging assets and ensuring the metadata you add stays on the assets even if you change DAM systems. These tools also allow for the batch renaming of files and application of metadata, easy file previews, photo editing, and photo culling.

Read More about Photo Culling and Asset Enrichment here


Now that you have an idea of the tools available to you in your toolbox, take time to understand how to use each one. There are in-depth articles on each of these tools on the Stacks blog. We also provide DAM consulting services to help teams build standards and processes for putting these tools to use. If you need help getting started with DAM, contact Stacks today!

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