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5 Bad Habits in DAM You Need to Break

Carlie Hill avatar

Carlie Hill

Director of Growth Marketing

7 min read

5 Bad Habits in DAM You Need to Break

Bad Habits.

They’re impossible to avoid and seem to follow you everywhere. It starts as a one-time short-cut you had to do to meet a deadline, and the next thing you know you’re falling into that habit time and time again.

In digital asset management, the true and tested rule is “Garbage In - Garbage Out”. Skipping a few minor steps here and there might seem harmless, but when they develop into these 5 major bad habits, the result is detrimental to success of the entire DAM system.

In this post, we’re going to break-down these 5 “DAM-Destroyers” one-by-one, and show you how to snap out of your worst habits, and get back on track to smooth DAM sailing.

1. Putting Everything Into One Category

The Habit
You're used to jumping straight to the search bar to find your assets. Typing in a few keywords and getting the results you need right away is quick and easy, so you decide that rather than having to manage keywords AND categories, it’s so much easier to just dump all of your asset into one category, and only rely on keywords. If you can find everything you need using the search bar, why even waste your time building a category structure, right?

Why It’s a Problem
While initially, you can probably get by using this strategy, in the long run as your team and company grows, it will be a problem. Using keywords is easy enough when you’re looking for a very specific asset (like a picture of a MAN with BROWN HAIR wearing a BLUE SHIRT), but if you’re browsing for a non-specific image (like one from your Christmas party last year), it can be much easier to browse a few related categories to find what you’re looking for.

Not using categories also reduces your flexibility with setting up access permissions. At some point, you might decide that only your marketing team should have access to the unedited set of your Christmas Party photos, but without having a separate category for the marketing team, this is nearly impossible. Having isolated categories for different teams and functions enables you to easily set it up the permissions you need.

How to Get Back on Track
Take the time to think through what you want to accomplish with your categories. There are so many options when it comes to a category structure, and taking the time to make one that works for you can make or break your DAM system. We suggest talking directly with your DAM customer success manager, and working with them to build out a category structure that meets your goals.

2. Using Non-Descriptive File Names

The Habit
After a big day out at an event, it’s time to get the photos off your camera and into your corporate DAM system. You drag-and-drop the photos directly from your camera file and start organizing them with the appropriate copyright, category and keyword details. Right before you hit the upload button you notice that all your photos from the day have the same generic “IMG_12345” title. You know in your gut that this isn’t the best system, but you can’t be bothered to go through and re-name all the files, so you go ahead and upload them – with metadata, your employees will be able to find them anyways.

Why It’s a Problem
It’s true that with a good keyword and category system these assets will still be able to be found, but by taking out the title of an asset, you’re making the process much more difficult. On a small scale, titles can be no big deal – you can narrow down your search to 2-3 assets, do a quick browse to find the one you’re looking for and that’s all there is to it. But when you have thousands of assets in your system, even highly specific search terms can still bring up 20 or so results. This is where a descriptive title can be the difference between finding your asset in 5 seconds or 5 minutes.

Your asset title is also what’s used when it comes time for other employees to download the file onto their own system. So, while you may know that “IMG_12345” came from Sports Day in December 2017, anyone who downloads that asset onto their computer has lost the ability to link that asset to a time and place.

How to Get Back on Track
Create a standard file naming format for each type of asset that typically comes into your DAM system. It can be as simple or complex as you need it to be - for example, “2017-SportsDay-1” or “Man-In-Blue-Shirt-2017”. Set a strict approval process based on that file name format, and reject any assets for re-submission that don’t meet the title requirements.

3. Not Keywording Right Away

The Habit
You have a few new brochures to add to the library and your boss needs them ASAP! You’re about to start adding keywords, but you’re feeling the pressure of getting them out right away, so you decide you can add keywords later and skip right to uploading them.

Why It’s a Problem
The upload process is designed to help you speed up your asset keywording and processing, and by choosing to do this later, you’re eliminating your ability to bulk-add keywords. In the long run, you’re just making your job more tedious and difficult.

On top of that, there’s also just a large possibility that you’ll forget about the assets completely, leaving important brand material sitting in your DAM, unable to be found.

How to Get Back on Track
This is a bit of an obvious one, but seriously - just keyword your assets right away! You’ll thank us later. Also, schedule regular asset upload reviews. You’ll be able to notice any inconsistencies in uploaded data and know if any contributors need additional training or best practice reminders.

4. Uploading Files in Multiple Sizes & Formats

The Habit
You often get asked for files in different sizes and file types, so to cover all your bases, you upload your logos, documents, and photos into your corporate DAM in every format and size you could imagine needing. The last thing you want is your boss to come after you because they couldn’t find a logo in the right format for an investor deck they needed yesterday. Providing every format is a no brainer!

Why It’s a Problem
By adding multiple versions of the same asset, you’re cluttering your DAM system and leaving your co-workers confused about which asset they should be using. Down the line, it will also lead to more issues when it comes time to update an asset (such as a brochure), and you now have to make changes to 5 different assets, rather than just the one.

This way of operating also costs your company in the long run. As DAM systems typically have a pricing structure based on storage usage, each asset that you add is costing your company money, and by uploading multiple versions you’re increasing their costs 10-fold.

How to Get on Track
A DAM is designed to resolve this exact issue, using asset rendering to quickly alter your assets to meet your size and file type needs. Moving forward, we recommend only uploading your highest resolution version of a file, in the most flexible format. For our logos, we upload high-resolution Adobe Illustrator files, so that we can convert them into PNGs or JPGs. And for documents, we upload Office Word files, so that we can easily edit them in our Office 365 tool and convert them to PDFs when we need them. There’s definitely an element of trust you need to have in your DAM system, but trust us – it’ll work perfectly!

5. Giving All Users Access to Everything

The Habit
When you first got your DAM system, you were excited about all the potential that permissions would hold. You could give access based on location, department, seniority and more – the possibilities were endless! But as time went on, no one seemed to be satisfied. Sales wants access to the Marketing category, and your office in Japan keeps asking if they can have access to the same brochures as Canada – you’ve had enough! Eventually, you give in, and just give everyone access to everything.

Why It’s a Problem
Eliminating your permissions essentially defeats the purpose of why you chose to adopt a DAM system in the first place. A DAM is about having control over your assets and by giving free access to everyone, your control goes right out the window.

How to Get on Track
There can be a bit of fine-tuning when it comes to permissions, and it starts with understanding everyone’s needs. Does Sales truly need access to Marketing’s whole category, or do they just need a few assets to be added to their own category? And why does Japan want access to Canadian brochures? Meeting with key leaders makes them feel heard and ultimately helps you update your permission structure to keep everyone happy.

Time to Break Your Bad Habits

Bad habits don’t have to haunt you! Do you think you’ve fallen into the trap of one of the 5 “DAM-Destroyers” above? Contact your customer success manager to get back on track!

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