What is the Digital Asset Lifecycle?

This short guide will explain the concept of a digital asset lifecycle. You’ll also learn how the process can help you monitor and keep track of your organisation’s assets.

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Isn’t the number of different digital assets you have in production at any given time astonishing?

And it’s not just you. 

According to the Content Marketing Institute, last year, 46% of businesses reported planning to increase their content creation. And they’ve already been publishing a lot. This data reveals that we publish 7.5 million of digital content per day. Then again, it’s hardly a surprise when you consider how many content assets brands produce, typically. Hubspot, for example, posts one post per day, apart from weekends, to their Academy blog alone. And that does not include their other blogs, and other marketing channels…

Data like this suggests that, at any given moment, brands like yours can easily many different digital assets in production. Not to mention a whole library of those that have gone through their entire asset lifecycle. 

How do you keep track of it all? 

The answer lies in understanding the digital asset lifecycle, and utilising digital asset management to monitor the entire process. 

Now, I understand that it’s a lot to cover, so let’s start at the beginning. 

What exactly is the digital asset lifecycle?

The term – digital asset lifecycle – refers to a process (or a flow, as I prefer to call it,) that each digital asset must go through during its lifespan. 

The flow, typically, matches all the common stages of the content production process (more on this in great detail shortly). 

Because of that, companies can easily track and monitor each asset as it goes through production. 

What’s more, because the digital asset lifecycle process is so intertwined with content production, it helps organisations eliminate chaos in marketing and content-related campaigns. 

To explain it more fully, let me show several examples of issues that typically arise in content production, if you try to manage it without a clearly defined digital asset lifecycle management process. 

Wrong assets being used to create content. Unless you have a system to manage assets across their entire lifecycle in place, you risk that someone would access and use a wrong version of a file in their project. It might be as simple as using an older version of a file, but also as significant as using a digital file without copyright permission (more on this in just a moment.)

Wrong assets being routed to relevant marketing channels. Similarly, unless you’re able to monitor assets across their entire lifecycle, you risk having wrong files sent to the content management system, social media, or another channels. 

Copyright issues. Finally, without digital asset lifecycle management, you risk files being used without copyright, after the license agreement has already expired. And needless to say, that’s a serious issue that could, potentially, cause harm to the brand. 

By understanding how the digital asset lifecycle works, and being able to monitor assets across the entire process, you can greatly reduce (or in many cases, completely eliminate) such issues and more from occurring. 

(Or to put it more bluntly, digital asset lifecycle management creates a single source of truth about all your assets.)

So, what are the stages of the digital asset lifecycle?

A quick note before we begin – What I’m about to show you are the most common stages of the content production process. These are in line with the process most organisations use to produce various digital assets. Having said that, there might be additional stages that your organisation uses. In that case, you will need to adjust your asset lifecycle management process to include those as well. 

Typically, the digital asset flow follows five main stages:

1. Create

This, as the name suggests, is a stage at which assets are created. Typically, this process includes such elements as:

  • Briefing and outlining the general purpose of the asset.
  • Ideation and planning stage that helps teams understand the brief better and convert it into an actionable plan to create the asset. 
  • Asset creation. This stage covers all creative work required to produce the initial version of the asset. Depending on the project, this might include creating a prototype, a first draft (in case of a text-based asset,) or the first iteration of a design or visual. 

Note that this process doesn’t conclude with the final version of an asset. This stage is all about getting from the brief to the first iteration. 

2. Proof

Having the first iteration of an asset launches the second stage of the process – online proofing

At this stage, the asset goes through several rounds of feedback and revisions, until the final version is signed off by appropriate stakeholders. 

The proofing process involves four stages:

  • Proof. This is when an initial file or design idea is shared with all the other stakeholders involved in the review and approval process. 
  • Notification. The proofing platform will, then, notify those people about the new proof available for review. 
  • Review & Collaboration. This is when stakeholders share their insights and feedback on the draft. This usually involves leaving comments and suggestions on a particular file revision. These are reviewed further, in turn, and converted into actionable insights to drive another iteration of the file.
  • Sign-off & Approval. Once the feedback has been acted on, relevant stakeholders can approve and sign off the file.

3. Route

Routing stage is all about monitoring how the finished asset is being used. In practical terms, it typically involves routing (hence the name!) the file to relevant channels – The website (through a content management system,) social media, printed publications, and any other channels where the file will be put to use. 

But although this stage of the process might seem pretty straightforward, it’s also one where many potential issues arise. And it’s where having a dedicated system to manage routing and integration pays off immensely. 

Here’s why:

  • Without a system, it’s easy for files to get accessed by unauthorised users, and routed to wrong destinations. 
  • Similarly, wrong versions of a file might end up being used in marketing campaigns. It can be something as simple and easily fixable as an image in the wrong sise being routed to the website. But it’s also easy for more serious mistakes to happen, like the wrong sise of a file being sent to print. 

4. Storage and Archival

The route stage ends when an asset is no longer needed. But naturally, in most cases, this doesn’t mean that it needs to be discarded. Organisations commonly reuse and repurpose digital assets, and therefore, those files need to be stored correctly so that they can be retrieved later, if needed. 

Because of that, this can be quite a complex stage of the entire digital asset lifecycle process, involving:

  • Creating a categorisation system for assets, including ways to categorise files by type, use-case, and many other factors
  • Defining meta-data and meta-data workflows for files
  • Creating a clear and concise folder structure so that all assets are organised in a logical way
  • Developing file naming conventions, and more. 

(Note – shortly in this guide, I’ll show you how to use a digital asset management system to define all these aspects and more.)

5. Retrieval

Finally, as assets often get reused, part of the asset lifecycle process involves defining strategies for easy and fast file retrieval. 

This is also where solid workflows for storing and archiving assets come into place. With clear folder structure, strong meta-data, file naming conventions, and more, you can reduce the time it takes teams to locate and access whatever files they need.

How to manage the complete digital asset lifecycle process?

I mentioned digital asset management (DAM) systems several times when walking you through the process above, and that’s for a reason. DAM platforms are ideal for managing digital asset lifecycle, after all. 

So, what is digital asset management, specifically?

Digital asset management is a process of organising and managing digital assets from a single location or a content hub. A DAM platform, therefore, is what you use to implement and run a digital asset lifecycle management process. 

And it includes quite a number of features and capabilities to make the process smooth and effortless.

  • Project management and collaboration features to manage the asset creation. 
  • Online proofing that allows you to streamline reviews and approvals. 
  • Automations to help put many aspects of the process on autopilot.
  • File storage and a content hub capabilities. 
  • Advanced categorisation options beyond just folders and metadata.
  • Bulk uploads and the ability to handle large volumes of assets.
  • User access control.
  • Copyright control.
  • Several ways to route and distribute the content, and more.

How does CELUM help you manage the entire digital asset lifecycle?

CELUM (disclaimer: this is our tool) is one of the most advanced digital asset management platforms available. In fact, CELUM brings together project management, file sharing, agile task management, a content hub, online proofing, and more to allow companies to manage the entire digital asset lifecycle and more.

Here are just some of CELUM’s amazing features that will help you track your asset usage:

Content Hub

CELUM offers a high-end asset storage solution that can easily manage thousands of images, videos, documents, and other file types. 

The content hub offers a fully customisable taxonomy, so you’re in complete control over how you categorise and organise stored assets. You can also create flexible node structures and asset collections to take your asset management to a whole new level. 

You can also bulk upload vast amounts of files with one click, meaning that you never waste time on manually sending files to the server. 

Finally, with advanced user rights management options, you can be sure that only authorised people will access relevant files. 


Content is rarely produced in vacuum. In most cases, various stakeholders and even entire teams work together to bring assets to life. CELUM includes a whole range of capabilities that help teams collaborate and work together to complete even the most demanding creative projects:

  • Advanced file management that helps teams store their work in a secure and easy-to-manage location. 
  • Kanban boards and workflows to streamline processes. 
  • Deadlines, responsibilities, and more to make task management easy, and let the creative work flow and more.

Feedback and approvals

CELUM also features the most advanced online proofing solution on the market. With it, your teams can collaborate on reviews and revisions to get projects signed off relatively quickly. 

  • You can comment directly on assets and annotate images, audio and video files, and more. 
  • Notifications features will alert any team members responsible for feedback that new versions of drafts are ready for their review. 
  • Finally, automations can run parts of this process for you. 

Integrations and Marketplace

In CELUM, integrations help you route your content to relevant channels. These could be anything from creative tools like Adobe Suite, to PIMs, your content management system, or your DX platform. 

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