What is digital asset management (DAM)?

What’s digital asset management?

Digital asset management (often shortened to ‘DAM’) is a software solution that provides one centralised, searchable location for your brand’s images, videos and documents. Think of it like your brand’s single source of truth for all your assets and the home for all of your visual content. 🏡

Dash DAM homepage

In this article, you’ll discover what a digital asset management system is, why it can be useful to your brand and how you can tell when it's time to purchase a DAM. By the end, you’ll be able to decide whether it’s the next best tool for your brand. (Spoiler: we think it is)!

What’s the difference between a digital asset and a file?

A digital asset might include product photos, video ads, podcast audio files and brand guidelines. What’s more, all of these come in different file formats, like JPGs, PNGs, PDFs and more.

How do digital assets differ from any digital file? To put it simply, a digital asset is a type of file that provides value to your brand. The examples above are valuable because it takes time and money to create them and they contribute to your overall marketing and brand strategy. A screenshot of a landing page you like, or your own personal to-do list, on the other hand, wouldn’t be considered digital assets. They don’t provide any value to your brand.

How to organise your digital assets?

That’s easy. With a digital asset management solution. This is the software that’s used to store your digital assets. Say you work in a marketing department. You’ll need a place for your team to access the files they need.

You may already be using tools like Dropbox, SharePoint or Google Drive. These are great if you’re storing documents. But if you’re creating lots of visual content in a growing business it can quickly get overwhelming. Forget trawling your Drive for content - a simple search in a good digital asset management tool will pull out the results you’re looking for.

A digital asset management solution provides a safe, secure and easy-to-use platform to store, organise and find all of your assets. You can also share assets with external agencies, create portals for public access and set permissions so people only access the digital content they need.


What are the benefits of digital asset management?

A great DAM should be built with your needs in mind. Every feature, function and integration should be designed to make your life easier. It’s as simple as that. Here’s an overview of digital asset management benefits.

Save time and money

One of the biggest benefits of digital asset management is the time you’ll get back. In fact, time is money, and something I’m sure you and your boss want to save. Features such as super-fast search will save you loads of time. By using tags and fields, you’ll be able to store your assets in such a way that when someone searches for them again, all they’ll need to do is type in a keyword. For example, type ‘cactus’ and your DAM will show you all images with that word in it.

DAM assets search

Discover how you can prove the ROI of DAM to your boss in our handy guide. 🤑

Protect your brand

Many DAM providers talk about ‘brand integrity.’ It’s about keeping better tabs on your content going out into the world (so you can stop any mistakes before it’s too late). Features such as permissions will ensure that only certain people can access your content. And, expiry dates will notify your team when something is no longer available to use on the web.

What’s more, making sure you have the right, high-quality visuals will mean a better experience for your customers. Just think about the times you’ve landed on a website that has pixelated images on its homepage. Or a brand’s social account filled with confusing off-brand content. This is not a good experience for your customers. With a DAM, you’ll ensure that you and your team always have access to quality, on-brand visuals whenever they need them.

Get your visuals to market, faster

Once you’ve got all your gorgeous brand assets, you’ll want to get them out into the wild. With DAM, you’ll be able to deploy your assets seamlessly by embedding them into your website, downloading social-ready images and connecting up with tools such as Hootsuite.

What’s more, in Dash you can share a link directly from your assets or by starting a collection or portal. And this isn’t just like any old WeTransfer. The link will lead your freelancers to a download screen filled with your branding, giving you that professional edge and them a secure way to access your content.

Check out our article all about the benefits of the digital asset management for a more detailed look at DAM and the features that can benefit your brand.

How to know it’s time to pick a DAM?

We’ve already said it, and we’ll say it again: if you’re spending too much time searching for images and videos, you need a DAM.

Perhaps Google Drive isn’t working for you anymore, or your Dropbox is jam-packed with image files that nobody can search through easily. No matter what you’re using to store your images, if it’s not a DAM we can guarantee that you’re not making the most of your assets.

If you’re still unsure, check out some of these Dash customers and the reasons they chose to pick a DAM. ✨

And, if you resonate with any of these stories, we reckon it’s time to consider a DAM.

1. Searching for images was costs too much time and money

Ecommerce brand, Kelly Wynne, has been selling handbags for over 10 years. Before Dash, they were using Google Drive to store and search for images. Unfortunately, this was costing them a lot of money.
“I was spending two hours at a time looking for one image. Not the best use of my time with such a small team! I told Kelly, our CEO, that I was basically being paid to find images.” - Kaitlyn Katsen, VP of Brand, Demand and Community

If this sounds like you, just think about the money you could save simply by being able to find the images you need quickly. As Kaitlyn testifies:

“The monthly Dash investment is much lower than my hourly photo hunting rate, and now I’m able to spend my time running campaigns and planning for the future.”

2. OneDrive is getting in the way of your content creation

Canadian charity IDRF was using OneDrive to store and share visual assets. This is not the easiest platform to share photos and videos on. Each time a colleague requested a photo, Sannah (IDRF’s Marketing Manager), would have to stop what she was doing and hunt around for that particular asset.
“People would be coming to me all the time - do you have photos of this, do you have photos of that - and I’d have to manually distribute assets to whoever asked for them.” Sannah, Marketing Manager at IDRF.

Nobody wants to be hassled when they’re in the zone, right?

Luckily, now that Sannah has found Dash, she’s no longer a bottleneck. Instead, she can get on with the work she’s actually paid to do.

“It’s saved me a lot of time. People don’t have to come through me to find photos, they just have direct access to it - it’s ideal both for me and the organisation.”

3. SharePoint is holding you back

Forthglade, who make natural dog food, has grown rapidly in recent years. With that growth, it’s become more important than ever for them to maintain brand consistency.

So when Graphic Design Manager, David Keefe, joined the team, he quickly realised that SharePoint (the solution they were using at the time), wasn’t doing their brand’s visuals justice.

“I wanted one place where everyone knew if they were going there to get an image, it was definitely approved and good to go!”

Tools like SharePoint just aren’t built for visual content. The search functionality isn’t designed to look for images and it requires people to know exactly what they’re looking for. Not ideal if you’ve got file names like summer_campaign_v2_09283_JPG.

With Dash, everyone has access to the images they need.

“We get fewer requests now for branded graphics and logos because they’re all on Dash. People in other teams can do basic editing in Dash, like resizing graphics, so they don’t have to come through us. I’ve also noticed the briefs we get through are more specific, as everyone can see what assets we’ve already got available.”

Dash Forthglade Customer Homepage

Here's a peek at Forthglade's Dash! 

4. Google Drive is stopping you from growing

When you’ve got thousands of photos of your products - both archive and current - and you’re running a website, an Instagram account and social ads, you need a place to store your visual content which works for your business. For furniture brand, RJ Living, Google Photos just wasn't doing it for them anymore.

“It was fragmented and became limiting pretty quickly. To keep a mental note of exactly where each image of a product isn’t very scalable, especially as more people have their hands in the system. It became something people were getting lost in.” - Nathan Oakley, Chief Operating Officer

In other words, their current system wasn’t letting them grow. That’s why they chose to move to our digital asset management tool. 🌞

“We can grow with Dash, honestly I can’t see us outgrowing this for a long time, if ever. It provides us all the functionality we need it to, and it’s saved us countless hours through various members of the team being able to access it. We found it, we love it, and I can’t see any reason why we won’t keep building on it.”

Picking a DAM that’s right for you

If you feel it’s time to purchase a DAM, you’ll probably want a little guidance around the types of solutions out there. Take a look at G2 and Capterra to get an idea of the types of features to expect, along with the various pricing models available. There’s loads of DAMs out there and it can get overwhelming. Here’s a few things to consider to whittle down your shortlist:

  • How big (or small) is your budget? DAMs have a reputation for being expensive. Totally fine if you’re in a huge enterprise, but not so great if you’re in a bootstrapped growing DTC brand. If you’re worried about cost, be wary of DAMs who don’t have a transparent pricing page on their site and make you book a call with them to get information on costs. That’s often a red flag. Consider DAMs who make their pricing upfront, clear and affordable (like, ahem, us).

  • How easy is it to get started? If you’re picking a DAM to save you time, you don’t want to be drawn into a lengthy and exhausting set-up process. If that’s a major factor in your consideration, look for DAMs which offer help moving your assets from their old location into your new DAM. Check out my blog post on how to get started with DAM.

  • What features are essential? Sit down with your team and make a list of what features you’d consider essential, and what features are just a ‘nice to have’. If you need to get buy-in from your senior manager, you don’t want to end up justifying the cost of an expensive DAM full of features you don’t need. Sitting down with your team also helps you get aligned and makes sure you’re finding a DAM that’s right for everybody. You might want to consider specialist types of DAMs - like brand asset management (BAM) and video asset management (VAM) systems.

  • How easy is it to cancel? Who knows where you’ll be in a year or two? If you need some flexibility, be wary of DAMs who lock you into lengthy contracts. With Dash, we don’t believe in forcing you to use the product if you don’t want to anymore. That’s why we’d just need a month’s notice if you ever want to bid farewell.

💡If you're currently looking for your new DAM tool, take a look at our digital asset management worksheet. 

comparison-transparent (1)

The Digital Asset Management Comparison Worksheet

Whittle down your choices and pick the right digital asset management tool for your brand

Download now!!!

Dash's easy-to-use digital asset management solution starts at just £49 / $59 a month. You can also grab yourself a 14-day free trial with no credit card required. You can get a feel of the system, customise your dashboard and invite your team to join.

Want to give it a go? Sign up for your free trial today. 

Table of contents

Dash allows you to deploy at speed 🚀

See how Dash saves marketers hours each day.

Get started with a 14-day free trial – no credit card, no auto-renew.