While everyone from your grandma to your boss is on social media these days, pet influencers seem to have won universal approval (and likes), securing their place as a social media staple on our news feeds.

Pet personalities like Grumpy Cat, Doug the Pug, and Boo—to name just a few—have amassed huge followings online that the most successful companies can’t help but envy. This is largely down to their starring roles within the weird and wonderful ‘meme’ culture that’s so popular online nowadays, encouraging countless others to shove their own pets in front of a camera.

A typical Instagrammer likely follows at least one or two of these pet influencers, whether it’s a superstar like Nala the Cat, or a more local pet celebrity. Which makes you wonder: why do we follow these pets, often obsessively so?

Well pets are cute, furry, and unintentionally hilarious; why wouldn’t you want to be constantly reminded of the good things in life? Pets are almost universally adored and familiar to us, while also coming in all shapes and sizes.

So we thought: what better example to help get to grips with digital asset management taxonomy than pets?

Classifying the cute

So what is taxonomy? Put simply, it’s a scheme of classification for things and concepts. It’s traditionally been used to categorize organisms, including the various breeds of dogs and cats. For our own purposes, taxonomies are also a great way to provide some structure to how we organize digital assets in a DAM system.

Whether you’re creating a taxonomy of cute, on Game of Thrones, or for your own company’s digital assets, you can follow a standard 8-step process. The example below demonstrates how we created a taxonomy of ‘the cute and cuddly from start to finish.

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Scope and gather

1. Determine scope

First off, we set out to find and describe pets—both online and in real life.

2. Collect and audit assets

Next, we gathered digital photos of pets known in real life and the top 10 pet influencers according to Forbes, and then reviewed the content accordingly (to check that there weren’t any pictures of food or people, for instance.)

Describe and define

3. Describe assets

We reviewed the asset collection and noted the keywords used to describe the pets in the photos. Then those keywords were categorized into similar groups. The end result was a map of multiple categories, each of them containing multiple values (category: value pairs).

4. Define categories and values

We listed the categories horizontally within a spreadsheet row. Next, we listed the values associated with each category in the column directly below the cell containing the category name.

5. Define relationships

We listed the relationships between values in different fields (“Dependency”).

Test and adopt

6. Refine the design

We reviewed all of the terms in the spreadsheet for accurate naming, correct spelling, and standardized formatting.

7. Test the design

We pulled up a few of the pet photos and mentally “tagged” them with the terms available in our taxonomy. Do the terms apply to this asset? Do they make common sense? Are any terms missing?

8. Adopt the design

We then had other colleagues read the terms and do the same tagging exercise. Record their feedback and adjust the design accordingly. We recommend at least two rounds of feedback and revision before publishing the design.

Just like that, we’ve got our taxonomy of the cute and cuddly! While we don’t expect you to devote quite so much attention to categorizing your favorite Instagram furries, this 8-step process should help you understand how a taxonomy can be set up for your own digital assets.

To see the full taxonomy of pets as referred to in this post, click here.

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