Digital Asset Management: What Is It and Why You Need It

In a fully digitized world it becomes increasingly difficult for companies to manage all assets efficiently. Digital Asset Management (DAM) software helps you tackle these challenges.

Digital asset management is an absolute must-have today.

As consumers, we practically drown in digital assets. Every day, we receive images and other visual files, audio files, see interactive ads, review documentation, and so on. The situation is no different within organizations. With so many customer touchpoints and marketing channels, the list of media assets to manage and use grows by the day. It becomes more challenging to navigate all those assets to deliver projects on time and to the spec required. Digital asset management is the way to overcome all these challenges and more.

In this guide, you’ll learn what it is, exactly, why manage media assets within the digital content lifecycle. We’ll even show you some of the most common digital asset management (DAM) use cases to illustrate the benefits of having the right DAM solution. But let’s start at the very beginning – By defining some of the terms we’ve actually mentioned in this post already.

Table of Contents

What are Digital Assets?

We’ve mentioned this term a couple of times already but what is a digital or media asset, really? Well, in the simplest terms, a digital asset is any content that’s stored digitally. Any physical content, a newspaper, magazine, book or a DVD disc would not qualify as a digital asset. On the other hand, any file containing rich media like video clip, a photo, a document or any other digital media is a digital asset.

There are, most likely, hundreds of different digital media asset types. However, the most common file formats in use today are:

  • Photos,
  • Videos,
  • Audio files,
  • Powerpoint presentations and other slide decks,
  • MS Office documents,
  • Plain-text files,
  • Graphics,
  • HTML documents, and
  • PDFs.

Some digital storage experts also name three common characteristics of digital assets:

  • These assets are digitally stored, typically on a hard-drive or a server somewhere,
  • They are also easily identifiable by a file name attached to them, and
  • They contain information that’s of value to a person or a company.

What is Digital Asset Management, Then?

Digital asset management (DAM, for short) is a process of managing, organizing, and distributing digital assets from one, content location or a hub.

DAM’s core objective is to help organizations create and manage content throughout the entire content lifecycle. Digital asset management software, in turn, helps create, archive, manage, repurpose and even manipulate digital assets. The above happens by assigning metadata – unique description for each asset – to make assets easier to find, filter and manage within an organization’s entire ecosystem.

Who Uses DAM Processes?

Digital asset management can aid practically every department within an organization. However, there are some specific departments that deal with digital assets more than anyone else:

  • DAM provides a way to manage and use the brand-specific creative files. What’s more, it ensures compliance with the brand guidelines, regardless of where the team is located.
  • IT teams use DAM to ensure file compliance across companies’ devices and tech stack,
  • With DAM, sales reps can create various sales materials – presentations, decks, proposals, and others – ensuring that they always work to the latest version of the file.
  • Finally, PR and Marketing use DAM to manage assets required for various campaigns and initiatives.

But Why Should You Manage Digital Assets in the First Place?

Well, the simplest answer is, because, as an organization, you use so many digital assets that it’s impossible to keep track of them all naturally. For one, the complexity of modern marketing strategies forces the use of hundreds, if not more, different types of digital assets.

PR and traditional marketing initiatives rely on text and visual assets like photos and graphics. Digital marketing strategies like SEO or content require even more assets, all in a whole variety of file formats. All this poses challenges for brand management to maintain consistency across all marketing initiatives. Sales teams constantly output various documents – proposals, presentations, and other sales enablement assets. Not to mention that each of those includes a whole range of other assets, from graphics to copy. Unfortunately, those teams often waste tens of productive hours on locating the right assets for their projects.

The multi-channel aspect of today’s marketing also forces companies to expand the number of digital assets they use. Maintaining brand consistency is one of the key ways for providing a strong customer experience, after all. Finally, as organizations grow, so does the cross-organizational use of digital assets, increasing the need for a formalized way to manage media files and other assets.

A quick introduction of CELUM Digital Asset Management Software

Managing Digital Assets Across the Entire Content Creation Lifecycle

The most common use case for DAM is creating content, in a broad sense of the term, within an organization. In most cases, the process includes four steps: content creation, asset management, distribution, and archiving. Let’s see how DAM processes assist each of those steps.

1. Content Creation

DAM processes increase efficiency and streamline the content creation process.
First, DAM processes centralize all assets. With that, all departments can access whatever files they need whenever they need them.

With DAM software, those files are no longer scattered across shared drives and servers. Instead, teams can access them through direct integration between a DAM platform and whatever other tools they use to create content.Finally, DAM platforms typically contain the latest versions of the file, meaning that teams always work with the most relevant assets.

2. Asset Management

DAM brings media assets in one place, meaning that departments can access and use those as they please. However, to manage digital assets properly, DAM also introduces the option to set up management permissions. In doing so, it protects an organization from having a mess with digital files due to version clashes, overwriting and more.

DAM systems allow specifying file access permissions – viewing only, upload, editing or approval – to increase the control over asset management.

3. Asset Distribution

When properly used, digital asset management software becomes the central hub for all digital assets. A key aspect of the process, then, is to distribute and give access to those assets to relevant teams to streamline content production. This, typically, happens in a number of ways. API allows connecting DAM software with any other tools used in content creation to share assets between them. For example, an API can connect the DAM platform with a content management system, making all assets available there at the touch of a button. Other methods for distributing assets are shared links that users can email or forward to others using other communication methods.

4. Archiving

Finally, DAM platforms assist in archiving files that are no longer in use to avoid them being included in new content initiatives. Many DAM tools like CELUM offer the ability to specify file versioning and set expiration dates on assets to prevent them from being used in the content.

How can CELUM help you?
Get a full overview of CELUM's Digital Asset Management features.

Digital Asset Management Software – What It Is

We’ve mentioned the term – digital asset management software – a number of times in this guide but without proper explanation. Let’s talk about it now, then.

Digital asset management software is a platform you use to conduct the DAM processes we’ve described earlier.

A DAM platform performs a number of functions within an organization:

  • It provides a repository where the organization can store digital asset for use when creating, producing and managing content,
  • It becomes a digital assets library for shareholders to access digital assets whenever they need to.
  • DAM software also facilitates content creation and collaboration, utilizing digital asset management processes across the content’s lifecycle.
  • Finally, DAM software facilitates better brand management by enforcing all departments to work with the same, most up-to-date versions of digital assets.

What’s more, its benefits are hard to refute.

  • Teams using the digital asset management software, typically, spend less time looking for relevant assets for their projects, 
  • DAM also unifies the assets used across the organization, regardless of the department’s location or role. 
  • With DAM, departments create and manage content from one place, reducing the possibility of mistakes and wrong assets being used.
  • But digital asset management also helps identify opportunities for repurposing digital files and boosts interdepartmental collaboration. 
  • Finally, having all digital assets in one place simplifies brand management for global companies.

Different Types of Digital Asset Management Platforms

So far, we’ve been talking about DAM platforms in general. There are many different types of them, however, and it’s important that you know the difference to choose the right one for your brand.

Some DAM products focus on brand asset management. These products focus on storing marketing-related content mostly – logos and other branded assets – to assist teams with creating successful campaigns fast. 

Library asset management systems, on the other hand, streamline storage and retrieval of assets that change rarely. The best way to think of them is photo libraries that give shareholders access to files they need. 

Another type- the production asset management system is more comprehensive, focusing on storing assets used in digital production. 

Finally, we can also differentiate DAM software based on how it is being implemented within a company. There are three ways to do it:

  • SaaS, where the platform is hosted in the cloud on the vendor’s servers. The end client can access their account via the browser then. 
  • Hybrid in which part of the product resides in the cloud and the other is deployed on the client’s premises. 

On-premise software resides entirely on the client’s premises. It is the client who provides the storage and equipment to run the software.

How does the DAM software fit into a typical organization workflow?

The benefits of DAM software are clear. However, it’s harder to realize the immense power such platform delivers for an organization. 

Its effect is two-fold, actually. 

Firstly, it helps unify the brand across regions, languages, and cultures. By having all digital assets in one place, an organization ensures that all teams, regardless of where they are, use the same brand assets. This results in a complete unification of all communication strategies across the globe. 

Secondly, DAM also unifies customer experience with a brand. Customers engage with brands on so many channels these days. Even the company’s support may be scattered across email, social media, chat, chatbots, and many other platforms. 

By forcing the use of the same digital assets across all channels, the organization ensures that customers experience consistency in their engagement with it.

When to Use Digital Asset Management – Use Cases and Examples

Use Case #1. Maintaining Brand Consistency

Today, brands must retain the consistency of the brand across all communication channels more than ever before. Customers use a multitude of ways to engage with a brand, and it’s imperative that they have the same experience on all of them. 

The problem? With so many departments involved in brand communications, ensuring the consistency has never been harder. 

DAM software allows companies not only to ensure that departments use the same, latest versions of various assets. With DAM, companies can also enforce the use of branded guidelines, templates and other assets that ensure consistency of the brand’s image.

Use Case #2. Managing a Global Brand Image

Similarly, global brands must maintain a constant image in all markets they target. Having all brand assets centralized in one location gives them the ability to control the image across all the company’s locations and international departments.

Use Case #3. Improve File Management Workflows

Anyone sharing files and digital assets across shared drives and servers will attest to the problems such a workflow generates. Versioning issues, wasting time finding the correct asset or files getting overwritten are just some of the challenges such teams struggle with. 

DAM simplifies the entire file management workflow, also ensuring that no such problems occur.

Use Case #4. Quicker Access to Assets

By centralizing all assets and simplifying labeling and filtering, digital asset management software also ensures quick file retrieval. Teams can access their desired assets from within the DAM platform or directly in the tool they use to create content thanks to API connections.

Use Case #5. Streamlining Approvals

Rarely, assets can get into production without relevant approvals. Without digital asset management, however, obtaining those approvals requires relying on file sharing, email, and other channels. DAM can centralize the entire workflow, allowing brands to get assets production-ready much faster.

Use Case #6. Improving Asset Security

Many organizations fear to have old or outdated files used in marketing or business communications. DAM improves asset security by allowing to set expiration dates for assets, permissions for teams to control file versioning and more.

Closing Thoughts

Digital asset management processes are no longer an option for today’s brands. It’s the only way to navigate the astonishing variety and number of digital assets required to complete projects on time and to the spec required.

Similarly, having the right digital asset management software means being able to avail of all the many benefits DAM offers organizations.

discover the success stories of our customers

The innovative management of our digital assets has proven to be a real source of added value within our company-wide cooperation. For many years we have found a reliable partner in CELUM.

Karin Keplinger
Project Manager, Corporate Communications

Our digital assets were scattered across multiple storage locations. With the introduction of the CELUM ContentHub, we were able to raise the management of these valuable resources to a central and global level.

Johannes Fenner
Head of Global Digital Communication

With CELUM DAM, our digital architecture has been expanded by an integral building block that has now become indispensable: it’s increased the efficiency of our digital processes enormously.

Stefan Vollmer
Business Processes & Digital Media

The direct and cooperative partnership with CELUM has helped us to digitalize our processes even further. In doing so, we could greatly increase employee satisfaction and significantly improve our time-to-market.

Dominik Wollenschein
Senior Consultant, Architecture Management

By using CELUM, we were able to cut our production period from the photoshoot to the completed product brochure to one month, and production costs are a mere third of what they used to be.

Michael Tusch
Group Marketing

We have been using CELUM DAM for a few years now to successfully present the dynamic world of sports to our stakeholders as a consistent brand experience.

Rolf Bigler
DAM & eCommerce Manager

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