Companies that have a Digital Asset Management system are spending 28% less time each week searching for assets. If you assume that it is all the magic of DAM, then you are mistaken.

Digital asset taxonomy is a system for classifying and organizing digital assets so that users can find them in seconds. It helps to ensure that assets are organized in a way that is consistent and aligned with the organization's needs, and it can make it easier for teams to find and use the assets they need.

The end goal of digital asset taxonomy is to play its part in improving the productivity of the DAM users in the organization. We do not want them to waste time digging the DAM to find the images or videos they are looking for.

This blog post will explore the need for a digital asset taxonomy. We will also discuss best practices for creating and maintaining a digital asset taxonomy.

The need for digital asset taxonomy

Setting up a Digital Asset Management system without a solid taxonomy is like building a library with no genre categories. Can you imagine how frustrating it can be to find a book in such a library?

The DAM user is equally frustrated when they try to find a digital asset in an unorganized DAM system.

Below are a few scenarios to elaborate more on the criticality of a digital asset taxonomy.

1. Difficulty in searching and discovering assets

It is common for the same digital asset to be searched using different phrases, terms, or labels. This can occur because for various reasons.

  • Different people might use different terms to describe the same asset, depending on their own background, expertise, or perspective.
  • Different people might use synonyms or similar phrases to describe the same asset. For example, someone might search for "photo" while someone else searches for "image."
  • If people are using different languages, they might use different terms to refer to the same asset.

Digital asset taxonomy can help address this issue by providing a consistent and standardized way to classify and label assets, making it easier to locate them regardless of the terms or phrases used to search for them.

2. Time-consuming workflows

Media companies and creative teams run multiple campaigns every day. A streamlined creative workflow can save them a lot of time and focus on launching effective campaigns.

See how DAM taxonomy can help streamline DAM workflows.

  • It can help teams understand and share resources easily, facilitating collaboration and reducing the time it takes to complete projects.
  • It ensures that assets are used effectively and efficiently by providing a clear overview of what is available and how it can be used.

3. Remote work culture

Automating and simplifying file access has become a priority with the massive shift to remote work culture. Manually sharing access to each team member for the creative doc does not work anymore.

Without taxonomy, remote collaboration might become challenging, causing significant delays at all levels of operations. With DAM taxonomy, it is easier to share files, define permissions for their access, and save time and effort.

4. Avoiding redundancy of assets, discoverability, and reusability

Have you saved a file twice with different filenames and couldn’t find any of them when needed?

This is a typical problem faced by teams who rely on random categorization and naming of digital assets.

DAM taxonomy can help teams understand which assets are available and how they can be used, increasing the reusability of assets. This can reduce the need to create new assets from scratch, saving time and resources.

Getting started with building the digital asset taxonomy for your DAM system

Building a digital asset taxonomy is not rocket science, but also not a cakewalk.

To get started, you need to understand the two approaches used to build digital asset taxonomy.

Flat Taxonomy:

A flat taxonomy is a system of classification that arranges assets into a single level or hierarchy. In a flat taxonomy, there are no subcategories or nested hierarchies; all assets are placed at the same level.

Flat taxonomies are often used when relatively few assets need to be classified or when the relationships between the assets are relatively simple.

They can be easier to understand and use than more complex taxonomies, as they do not require users to navigate multiple levels of hierarchy.

However, flat taxonomies can be less effective for classifying large or complex sets of assets, as they do not provide the same granular-level detail.

A hierarchical taxonomy, which arranges assets into nested categories and subcategories, might be more appropriate in these cases.

Nested Taxonomy:

In a nested taxonomy, assets are placed into categories, and each category can contain multiple subcategories, which can, in turn, contain further subcategories. This creates a multi-level hierarchy of categories and subcategories.

They can be useful for organizing and classifying large or complex sets of assets, as they provide a high level of granularity and detail.

It is easier to understand the relationships between different digital assets and to locate specific assets within a large or complex set.

However, nested taxonomies can be more complex and difficult to understand than flat taxonomies, which arrange assets into a single level or hierarchy.

They may also require more effort to create and maintain, as they require the definition and management of multiple hierarchy levels.

How to build the digital asset taxonomy for your DAM system

A well-designed taxonomy can make it easier for teams to find and use assets and improve your DAM system's efficiency and effectiveness.

It's important to note that building a digital asset taxonomy is an iterative process, and you may need to revise and refine your taxonomy as your assets and needs change over time.

Here are the steps you can follow to build a digital asset taxonomy for your digital asset management (DAM) system.

1. Conduct a digital asset audit:

A digital asset audit is a process of reviewing and evaluating the digital assets that are stored in your DAM system.

The purpose of a digital asset audit is to identify any assets that are no longer needed or duplicates and to ensure that all of the assets in your system are properly organized and labeled.

Follow this 5 step audit framework to conduct a quick digital asset audit.

  • Identify your assets
  • Review and evaluate your assets
  • Organize and label your assets
  • Delete or archive unnecessary assets
  • Review and update your taxonomy

2. Map out the current folder structure

A folder structure is a way of organizing files and folders on a computer or in a cloud-based system, and it can help to keep your assets organized and easy to locate.

  • Start with identifying the root folder for all your digital assets.
  • Move on with identifying the mail folders for images, documents, videos, audio files, or other media types.
  • Within each main folder, you might have one or more sub-folders. For example, "Photos" folder contains sub-folders for "Landscapes," "Portraits," and "Action shots."
  • Create a visual representation of your folder structure. This could be a simple diagram showing the relationships between different folders, or a more detailed spreadsheet that includes information about the assets in each folder.

Learn more about mapping an effective folder structure: Organizing digital assets | A Step-by-step guide

3. Categorize assets

Categorizing digital assets based on purpose, format, and platform is the optimal way to organize and classify your assets in your DAM system.

By categorizing your assets in this way, you can make it easier for teams to find and use the assets they need, and you can ensure that your assets are being used effectively.

a. Purpose

  • Sales - Assets used to promote products or services to potential customers.
  • Marketing - Assets used to build brand awareness and engage with customers.
  • Development - Assets used internally to support the development or design of products or services.

b. Format

  • Images - Digital assets that are visual, such as photographs, graphics, or illustrations.
  • Video - Digital assets that include visual media, such as promotional videos, movies, TV shows, or commercials.
  • Audio - Digital assets that are sound-based, such as music, podcasts, or voice overs.

c. Platform

Assets are categorized according to the platform where they are hosted, like the company's website, social media channels, and mobile applications.

4. Establish file naming conventions

File naming conventions lay down rules or guidelines for naming and organizing files. Some such rules or guidelines include:

  • Use descriptive and specific names
  • Use a consistent naming convention, like using dashes or underscores to separate words or using a specific numbering system.
  • Consider including relevant metadata in your file names, such as the date the file was created or the creator's name.
  • Avoid using special characters, such as ampersands or pound signs, in your file names, as they may not be recognized by all systems.

5. Run a pilot involving test users

Involving a group of users to test the DAM taxonomy is a good practice before rolling it out to the entire organization.

  • Start with identifying a set of test users and training them to use the DAM system.
  • During the pilot, note what is working well and what is not. Look for any issues or problems that arise, and note any feedback or suggestions the test users have.

6. Improve taxonomy based on pilot run

The whole point of running a pilot is to improve the taxonomy based on usage patterns and feedback.

  • After the pilot run, Look for areas where the taxonomy was confusing or difficult to use.
  • Identify areas where the taxonomy can be improved, like adding new categories or subcategories and adjusting the hierarchy.
  • Make the necessary changes and test it again with a small group of users.

7. Train internal teams with documentation of the final implementation

Once you think the DAM system is ready to use, conduct training sessions for all the users.

  • Before that, gather all the relevant documentation like user manuals, training materials, how-to videos, etc.
  • Develop a training plan that outlines the goals of the training, the target audience, and the methods you will use to deliver the training.
  • Conduct the training sessions as planned. This might involve in-person training sessions, online training modules, or a combination.
  • In the initial weeks of using the DAM system, set up Q&A calls for clarifications and discussions.

How ImageKit helps in creating and maintaining your digital asset taxonomy

ImageKit is a cloud-based digital asset management (DAM) platform that allows users to store, manage, and deliver digital assets, such as images, videos, and audio files. It can help you master your digital asset taxonomy with

  • Media library:  It has a simple user interface to upload, tag, search and manage files, images, and folders. The central media library ensures that all assets are stored and accessible for all stakeholders with the same URL.
  • Image and metadata tagging: Adding tags to images makes it easier to search and locate assets bearing similar traits. You can search with tags, add/ remove in bulk, and update tags. Further, ImageKit offers AI-based auto-tagging which leverages powerful label detection APIs to  automatically detect and add tags to your images.
  • Advanced Search: Users can search for assets with specific keywords and metadata to update or delete them. You can also use filters to narrow their search results by specific criteria, such as asset type, file size, or date modified.
  • File renaming: Renaming files in DAM is as simple as renaming a file on your PC.
  • Asset versioning and distribution: Creating multiple versions of the same digital asset is common in the creative field. You can use version control on the same file instead of saving each version as an individual file. This will avoid duplicates.
  • Backup media assets: You can backup all your assets with just a click. Setup an active backup, and all your newly uploaded files will also be uploaded to your backup bucket.
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A well-designed and implemented digital asset taxonomy can change your asset management game. It is the first step to creating a productive environment for your creative teams. It is difficult for a designer to be creative and patient to find the asset simultaneously.

You cannot help with creativity but you definitely can ease their job by building a tailor-made digital asset taxonomy and training them to use it for their best.

The process is never-ending with collecting feedback and improving the taxonomy continuously. But ImageKit can make this easy for you with advanced features like a central media library, asset versioning, advanced search, etc.

You can explore ImageKit’s DAM system to build your next digital asset taxonomy for free now.

Sign up for ImageKit today. It is free until you are ready to upgrade.

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