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Your team has just come up with the best marketing campaign yet. You’ve got your blog posts lined up, social media schedule perfectly curated, and ads made of a copywriters dream. All you need now are visual assets that perfectly compliment each and every piece. That’s when it sinks in.

You know you should have that one image from that one photoshoot or that infographic so-and-so made last year would go perfectly with this article, but where were they saved again?


At some point in time, we’ve all been there. Searching for an asset you knew was around somewhere, but now is somehow elusive. Teams of all sizes are facing similar challenges when standards and best practices have not been put into place when it comes to organizing and storing visual assets. Often times, it becomes the responsibility of certain individuals to organize files whose methods may not align with others on the same team. Or, let’s say, multiple teams have the need for one specific photo, but the format of each need is different. When teams aren’t aligned, that one file becomes multiple files, with all different file names and most likely, saved in multiple locations spread over a variety of platforms. This, needless to say, causes incredible confusion which leads to precious time being used in inefficient ways.

Below are three ways your team can start implementing standards and best practices today to help jumpstart your journey of successful visual asset organization.

Metadata Standards

Metadata is a component of a digital file that provides information about a certain visual asset such as date and time, geolocation, camera settings, keywords, and more.

stacks visual asset management standards

Making sure metadata standards are in place is key to visual asset management as this is how an image becomes searchable.

As a team, determine what kind of information would be most beneficial to your day to day operations. We suggest location, date, creator or copyright information, and a caption noting the who, what, when, where, and why of the asset.

In order to make this process a natural transition, we also recommend defining your company language. What terms have been used, modified, and ingrained into your company culture? It’s likely these ideals and terms will be heavily used when staff sit down to search for a specific asset.

Filenaming Standards

With your visual assets being used for a variety of tasks, where do you even start with renaming files that makes sense to your entire organization?

stacks visual asset management standards

Do you describe what is in that photo, what that infographic is about, where that video was filmed? Our tip is to establish what you want to know by only seeing the file name.

Here’s how we like to do it:

We always add the date first in the year, month, day format. Next, we include a location code, a city, state, and/or country. We’ll add a general subject or description, usually about one to two words, and conclude with a sequence number. A rule of thumb with this is if you have ten or more files, always start with 01, if you have 100 or more files, start with 001, and so on. Additionally, always use underscores or dashes to separate each of these areas to avoid file corruption, never use spaces.

Requesting the Right Visuals

Our last tip is one that requires communication with your creative team, internal or external, before you receive any final product.

To avoid hours of sifting through unwanted assets, you can ensure you are receiving the right visuals by making strong suggestions before the creation process even begins. You can request camera settings that produce the highest quality files available or exported files of proper sizing and format. Are you looking for toned or color corrected files, or will you accept video clips or just final videos and edited sequences? This is of course up to you and what works best for your brand, but making these expectations clear and known upfront is a must.

If you’re in a position where your hard drives or servers are being inundated daily with visual content, making sure standards are put in place today will ensure your journey of becoming the well oiled machine you know you can be is successful. With a little time and focus, there’s no way you can fail.

You got this!

Enjoyed this and want to learn how we tackle visual asset management for our clients? Check out our free Visual Asset Curation Course!

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