For any creative, a storage system for digital assets is a must. Whether they’re a graphic designer, video creator, or content writer, they need somewhere they can rely on for filing assets, on a daily basis.
Yet, too often, many digital storage systems aren’t as helpful as they might be. It seems many creatives discover it’s difficult to retrieve work they’ve filed away.
For instance, a web page designer may find it harder than expected to locate page designs for a new car hire business. Or even to share with colleagues and stakeholders a PDF they created a day ago via a free online PDF merger app.
Instead of relying on the likes of Google Drive or Dropbox, then, creatives and their collaborators are increasingly turning to a different asset storage solution. A type of cloud-based platform that offers more functionality and ease of use – digital asset management (DAM).
And they’re not alone. Businesses of all types have been doing the same over the last few years – as can be seen by the dramatic growth of the global DAM market (see chart below).
So, why is DAM proving so popular with creative teams, in particular? What does it bring to their day-to-day work? Why does it matter to them?
Store and find the right asset quickly
In a 2020 survey conducted by Demand Metric and BrandCentral, more than half of 1,000+ marketers and creatives claimed that owing to how long it takes them to find assets, they end up searching Google to find their own company’s logo.
That may sound far-fetched, but perhaps it shouldn’t. Not least when you consider the same survey found respondents spend more than 90 hours of their working week searching for digital assets (see chart below).
After all, it’s not hard to imagine that, the deeper a designer gets into a project, the more versions of an artwork they produce and place, over and again, in a file storage system.
This means it becomes critical to keep tabs on the latest version – the one to be shared with and seen by stakeholders – instead of previous ones that have been superseded. But doing this and not wasting precious time can become an issue when the designer’s having a very busy day.
The same goes for every asset stakeholder. Especially as they won’t have created any of the files themselves and likely won’t be familiar with them.
When using a DAM instead of a standard cloud storage system, however, it’s likely creatives and their collaborators will find they spend less time looking for assets.
DAM software makes use of bespoke categorization options for uploading and filing. That tends to result in easier uploading and simpler file-locating. In other words, faster housekeeping.
For instance, say a designer has created a new logo for a luxury hotel group, intended for a Facebook marketing campaign. Once the new logo is crafted, the designer ought to be able to file it quickly in the right place in their team’s DAM.
This is because superior DAM platforms enable categorizing and organizing an asset according to its most salient property – its purpose, format, or size, say.
After filing, then, it likely will be retrieved by the designer or any stakeholder with ease. Enabling everyone to devote the right amount of time to the more desirable tasks they should be focused on during the working day.
Additionally, if a user’s searching for an unfamiliar asset in a DAM platform and doesn’t know its filename, advanced search filters (tags and keywords, for example) are available. Previews of assets can also aid in searching.
In many instances, too, DAM software enables users to alter the categorization of assets according to date (when the asset was created, uploaded, or modified), thereby facilitating date-specific searches.
Helps people to work together
Of course, creatives don’t work in silos. They collaborate with others in teams; their work is often part of digital marketing projects overseen by managers and requiring buy-in from further stakeholders – clients, in many cases.
It’s for this reason, too, that DAM platforms are popular among creatives and marketers. Their use aids integration and team-working because they can help streamline the collaborative process.
A 2022 survey of more than 250 senior marketing/ e-commerce personnel found that 68% of them wished to see a break from the silo-working of their collaborators.
In claiming this, they wished not just collaborators – many of them working in different locations, no doubt – to be more joined-up but also for the tech everyone relies on to be more integrated.
With its capacity to serve as a single storage system that provides access to both internal team members and external partners, a DAM platform enables all stakeholders to upload, access, find, modify, delete, download, and publish assets from the same place.
It thereby eliminates the need to share assets across different storage systems used by different stakeholders.
Enabling better collaborative working, then, digital asset management can aid in more transparent and faster working. This in turn can help resolve gaps in time, management, and delivery of projects.
Bearing this in mind, it’s maybe not surprising that, of the 1,000+ professionals questioned in the aforementioned Demand Metric/ Brandfolder survey, nearly one in six said they were satisfied with the DAM platform they used. Conversely, of those using non-DAM storage systems, just over one in three were satisfied (see chart above).
Brand assets become consistent
When collaboration between creatives and collaborators is better, it leads to better understanding. This results in consistency in work. And, for digital assets themselves, it results in brand consistency.
Without a doubt, brand consistency is becoming ever more important for companies. According to Lucidpress’s 2021 survey on content effectiveness, one-third of the 450+ respondents claimed brand consistency had ‘substantially contributed’ to revenue growth (as much as 20% growth) for their brands (see chart below).
Using a DAM platform is likely to enhance the creative process responsible for brand consistency. Creatives can follow brand guidelines correctly because the guidelines and their resulting assets are well categorized and stored. Therefore, they can be found and referred to easily when new assets need to be created.
Brand assets, then, are consistent according to the very latest, approved brand elements that define their appearance, sound, language, tone, and meaning.
For instance, say a designer is new to a client’s brand and not aware of the look, tone, and feel expected of the artwork they’re tasked with creating.
Should this designer use a standard file storage system, whose filing and search functionality is limited, it may slow them down in achieving a satisfying design; one that's in line with pre-existing brand guidelines.
Conversely, using a DAM platform would enable a designer to check previous assets and brand guidelines quickly, communicate with stakeholders on-the-fly, and get up to speed swiftly. They might also make use of easy-to-find asset templates.
Or, alternatively, their colleagues may be able to do that. For instance, a bid project leader might turn to their DAM platform to create social media proposal templates for use across upcoming client meetings. In doing so, they wouldn't need to call on a designer for a relatively simple task.
Excellent integration possibilities
Another popular characteristic of DAM platforms is their capacity to integrate with third-party software.
DAM software tends to integrate efficiently with content management (CMS) systems, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, project management software, and many communications tools.
For project managers, this means they can draw together and leverage the details and data they need on a project with relative ease. They can measure the usage, efficacy, and cost of digital assets. Thereby ensuring efficient control and supervision of marketing projects.
For creatives, a DAM platform’s ability to integrate with other systems and programs is equally favorable. It presents them with a seamless workspace across digital platforms.
That’s because a high-quality DAM solution will integrate with applications like Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, as well as Canva, Figma, and Sketch. Graphic design and content creation applications are at the center of a creative's working day.
Moreover, some DAM software has the added advantage of integrating assets from third-party platforms via external links.
Growing importance for creatives
To sum up, then, digital asset management matters to creatives because a DAM platform functions as more than a storage platform for digital assets.
It enables creatives and other stakeholders to keep digital assets in a single location and categorize, locate, and modify the assets quickly. At the same time, the collaboration between stakeholders is aided and potentially improved, while project managers are helped in overseeing and planning content work.
Indeed, as our current digital age progresses and evolves, the pressure on creatives to produce, share and publish digital assets will only grow.
It’s of little surprise, then, that using DAM platforms to manage their digital assets is becoming increasingly popular and important for creatives.
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AuthorYauhen is the Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc, an all-in-one document management tool for almost all types of documents including this PandaDoc recruiter contract template. He’s been a marketer for 10+ years, and for the last five years, he’s been entirely focused on the electronic signature, proposal, and document management markets. Yauhen has experience speaking at niche conferences where he enjoys sharing his expertise with other curious marketers. And in his spare time, he is an avid fisherman and takes nearly 20 fishing trips every year.