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So, you’ve uploaded your creative assets to a digital asset management (DAM) platform—now what?

The key to making your DAM system work for you is to enrich every asset with data. Not just any data—metadata. Metadata creates order out of the chaos of unorganized files. What is it though? Metadata is information attached to each asset that describes what it is, who can use it, who created it, when it was created, and any other pertinent information. Once metadata is attached to an asset, the descriptive terms associated with it are searchable. This means that when you look for a specific image you won’t have to search through your folders to find it. You can just type specific keywords into the search bar and voila! Your image appears.

Creating a plan

Not all metadata is created equal. It’s important to work with a representative group of stakeholders to make a list of the keywords that are important to add to your assets. Here are some categories and types of keywords for you to review:

Type: Marketing Shot, Product Shot, Portrait, Landscape, Aerial, Internal, etc.

Location: Interior, Exterior, Specific Building, etc.

Product/Person’s Name: First Name, Last Name, Title, Nickname (Nicholas Smith, CEO, Nick)

Other ideas: Size, Flavor, Action, Sponsor, Model Number, etc.

While this seems straightforward, you may find that people on your team describe assets very differently or that the marketing and creative departments use different terms to define the same type of assets. Using keywords that allow everyone to find the file they’re looking for will help your end-users utilize the DAM system more efficiently and effectively.

Small details are also worth considering. Using the plural form of a word helps increase its searchability. For example, if you searched “drink,” the DAM system would only search for the word “drink.” But if you searched “drinks,” it would look for “drink” and “drinks.” This increases the likelihood of your finding the file you need. Additionally, using action words instead of static words increases the searchability of your terms. To use the same example as above, if you searched “drinking,” the DAM system would pull up results for both “drink” and “drinking,” increasing the likelihood of finding the image you want. Creating a detailed plan for applying keywords to your assets, to begin with, helps ensure the overall success of your DAM program.

Types of Metadata

Regardless of which one you’ve implemented, DAM platforms typically offer the same fields you can use to add metadata to your assets. Below is a short guide to knowing what information goes in each field.

1. Description/Caption: This is a SHORT description of the asset. It’s the who, what, when, and where of your asset. Think back to high school English class. This is the title sentence of your essay. Example: Dan’s Bulb’s Leadership Team Retreat, El Paso, Texas, April 21, 2021

2. Headline: This field can be customized to your team. If there’s one element of the Description/Caption that should be highlighted, it can go here. If there’s a broader category the asset is a part of, it belongs in this field. Whatever you choose, limit your headline to one or two words that add the most value. Example: Leadership Retreat 2021

3. Keywords: This is the field where you can go into all kinds of detail! Use the list of keywords you’ve developed to ensure consistency. Think color, size, genre, type of asset, the role of the subject, person/product name, detailed location, model number, department information, etc. It’s important to go from broad keywords to specific keywords. This will allow the file to appear in a range of searches, which could be helpful to your end-users. Remember plurals and action words! Example(s): Portraits, Headshots, Smiles, 20210421, Nick Smith, Nicholas Smith

4. Photographer, Copyright Information, City, State, Country, Category, Date, & Event Name can be added if needed.

5. Customized Information: Speak with a DAM expert about how you can use additional metadata fields to add more value to your assets. These fields can be customized to meet your end users’ needs. This ensures that the assets in your DAM hold all the information you need to find them quickly.

Remember that all the information in each metadata field is searchable in your DAM system. For example, there is no need to repeat the data from the Description/Caption field in the Keywords field. Reiterating these words will just waste your time and won’t add value to your assets.


Following the tips in this article will help you enrich your digital assets and create a successful DAM program. When creating your metadata plan, it’s helpful to think about organizing it in ever-decreasing concentric circles based on the level of detail in each. The largest circle should be the broad high-level overarching data that most assets need. The smallest circle should be the tiniest detail which adds value. Using synonyms and determining the different ways assets are used ensures they will be accessible to all end-users and increases their overall worth to your organization.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t know where to start, contact Stacks! Our team can help you create a plan for enriching your assets by determining the common descriptive language that would be useful to add to them, utilizing the metadata fields in your DAM platform, and customizing your metadata so it’s tailored to your specific needs.

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