In this blog:

  1. Making it easy to recognize DAM terms
  2. Understanding taxonomy and metadata
  3. Finding assets using a taxonomy
  4. Examining artificial intelligence

Have you ever searched for an image or file on your computer, in email, Dropbox, or Google Drive and failed to find it? We’re sure you have. The problem isn’t uncommon. You know it’s there, somewhere. You just don’t remember what you called it or in what folder you put it. The file could possibly be in someone else’s custody, and he or she could be on vacation or out of office. So to find it, you need to continue being unproductive as you search for it or you have to waste time recreating it.

Your ability to find digital content is only as good as the system you develop to access it. If you multiply the issue of locating assets across an enterprise, you can understand why systems must be established to search and find media stored on your organization’s computers.

In this chapter, we examine digital asset management (DAM) systems that are created to help you find what you’re looking for and the technical terms associated with developing them.

Simplifying DAM Language

More than likely, you’re probably unfamiliar with some terms used when discussing managing digital content and DAM. Just like with any new topic there are always a few new words you need to know.


The good news is that these terms have easy‐to‐ recognize underlying concepts that make it simple to adopt the jargon. Here we explain what we mean when we designate something a digital asset.

Reviewing DAM terms

Digital assets are files that have some intrinsic value to a company or individuals. They can be images, videos, graphics, brand logos, presentation decks, and so on. To make them accessible to people using the DAM, they need to be organized, tagged with metadata, and easily findable. An organization wouldn’t be able to succeed in this always‐on environment if it wasn’t able to retrieve specific digital assets quickly and efficiently.

DAM, at its core, enables you to create, find, and use content when you need it.

Focusing on DAM structure

To fully understand DAM lingo, you need to know the following two terms that are critical to structuring your digital assets:

  • Taxonomy: A taxonomy is a classification scheme that helps you organize your rich media assets into categories. Essentially, taxonomy makes things easier to find by establishing a structure. A useful taxonomy uses controlled language that is consistent and provides a clear understanding of the relationships between attributes. Your taxonomy is the backbone of your entire DAM system. You need to give it a great deal of attention when you’re setting up your system. Think of it as the foundation for DAM.
  • Metadata: Metadata is another confusing technical term. It refers to data about your data. But, it too is a really a simple concept. Metadata helps you describe an asset. So when developing your DAM system, you need both a structure to organize your system (taxonomy) and data to describe your assets (metadata) to make them easily findable.

Creating a Taxonomy

To produce an effective taxonomy, you and your stakeholders need to ask the following questions so that you’re prepared to start a conversation about your DAM’s structure. Ideally this taxonomy conversation has already begun during a discovery phase where you’re evaluating current business practices and pain points that you can address with a DAM solution.

  • What is the scope for your DAM system? Consider what your currents needs are and what you’ll need in the future. Does your company have plans to expand or acquire more assets? Ask yourself if you know the full scope of digital assets that are available in your organization. Who owns them? What are they used for and when?
  • What types of digital assets does your organization utilize? Obtaining a sampling of the types of assets that you will want to store in your DAM system and practicing an exercise where you describe them can help you to think about descriptive keywords and categories that may make sense in your taxonomy.
  • How do departments in your organization currently find your media assets? This question is crucial because to create a successful system, you need to know what’s working now and what needs to be improved. Do you always find yourself asking other people where the latest design file is?
  • How would you like to find these assets? This question makes you think about what your ideal system would look like and helps you determine what you need to accomplish.
  • Have you already set up a file‐naming convention? Naming conventions can be helpful to provide additional context to your digital assets about who created them, or even what categories or products they refer to. If you have a file‐naming convention, does it include information that you could use in your metadata? For example, a filename 2018‐spring‐bynder‐001.jpg can already tell you a few metadata fields that might be useful such as the year, season, company, shot number, and the file type.
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