What Happens When You Start Sharing Your Digital Assets The Right Way?

Andrew Rhodes – Senior Content Producer
September 24, 2020
1 min read

Picture this. You and your team have been working on a new campaign for months. You’re planning to launch it in a few weeks, when your manager sends you a quick email:

“Just got word from our client, they want to take a different approach. Need a new hero image. Remember that image we used in the first round of sketches for the Tilson campaign last year? Can you please find that and send it to me for our presentation tomorrow?”

A lot of designers know this feeling all too well. Sharing digital assets can often feel frustrating, even exasperating. How do you turn a request like this into a recipe for success?

Digital asset distribution doesn’t have to be a mad scramble. There’s a better way to share images and fonts, a way that can calm your creative chaos. And there’s no time to waste. The clock is ticking.

Digital Asset Management Workflow Begins with Intelligent Search

Successful projects are built on great collaboration. This is how designers thrive, by sharing digital assets and ideas. But before creatives can share images and fonts, they need a surefire way to find what they’re looking for every single time.

For many organizations, finding the right digital assets often looks more like a guessing game than a clear recipe with step-by-step instructions. This is troubling since artists should be paid to create art, not track down emails or manage projects. Finding the right digital assets should take seconds, not days. So, how can organizations make this process more efficient?

Flexible digital asset management systems give you the ability to set multiple filters in your search queries. This way, your designers can fine-tune their searches by upload date, file size, and a wide range of other characteristics. But what if you don’t know any of these details? Think back to our example in the introduction. You might recall an image of a woman who had just stepped off a train, but that’s it.

If your digital assets had been tagged manually, you might come up empty if you searched by “city,” “train,” and “woman.” How would you know the person who uploaded that image decided to tag it with “urban,” “subway,” and “lady?” In this case, guessing the keywords that would return the right image would be like playing darts. Blindfolded.

Smart keywords are metadata tags that have been automatically applied to digital assets through artificial intelligence and machine learning. If your DAM system can automatically assign metadata based on the nature of the image, you’ll have a much better chance of hitting the target when you search for your files.

Finding the right fonts brings up similar challenges. But with the right font manager you can preview a list of fonts with certain characteristics and pick the best one in seconds. And if you don’t already have a shortlist, you can filter by different font characteristics to zero in on the correct font quickly and efficiently.

Now that you’ve found what you’re looking for, how are you going to share it?

Sharing Images and Other Digital Assets

Many designers are probably familiar with our example from the introduction. Finding and sharing the right digital assets is the essence of an effective image management workflow. And what comes next might also ring a few bells:

  • The endless back and forth: “No, not this version, the other one we worked on at the same time.”
  • Second-guessing: “Do we own the license to this image? What do you mean you don’t know? Can you check with Lucas, our PM on this account?”
  • Access? Denied: “Wait, you emailed that version to everyone on their team? That wasn’t ready for Tanya’s eyes. Or Sharon’s, for that matter. Now we have to go back to them and apologize before we send the final. I just hope they haven’t used that other image already.”

Sharing digital assets doesn’t have to lead to analysis paralysis. There’s a better way to do digital asset distribution.

Intuitive DAMs enhance your workflow by making sharing as easy as 1-2-3. Select the digital assets you want to share and create an online portal with a single click. You don’t need to search through emails for the right version. Anytime you update one of these image files, everyone who has access to the portal will see the most current version. And if you need to add someone to the portal — or revoke someone’s access — you can do it in seconds. The right DAM makes sharing digital assets simple and secure.

How do you make sure you add the right version to the online portal in the first place? The most versatile DAM systems simplify version control. These tools let you drag and drop files into Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, or Illustrator. Make the changes you need and then add it back to the DAM in seconds. One version, zero guessing. This way, you can always be sure you’re sharing the right version with the people who need it.

Now, let’s say you find the right version of that image and you’re about to share it with your manager. Do you own the license for that digital asset? If you have any uncertainty, this is where doubt can creep into your digital asset management workflow. The quickest way to solve this is to buy a new version of the image. But that’s also the most expensive fix. And if you don’t have a way to keep track of your image licenses, you can count on repeating this process again very soon.

Robust DAM systems can stop this kind of second guessing in its tracks. Search for what you need, get results fast, and then easily view licensing information on all relevant assets. With the right DAM system, you can share digital assets with confidence every time.

Sharing Fonts and Font Files

Images aren’t the only type of digital asset you might need to share. Let’s revisit our example from above, but with a twist:

“Just got word from our client, they want to take a different approach. Need new fonts for the subhead and body copy. Remember those fonts we used in the first round of sketches for the Tilson campaign last year? Something similar to that. Can you please find a few possibilities and share them with me for our presentation tomorrow?”

When you talk about sharing digital assets, font sharing needs to be part of the conversation. But sharing fonts between computers has its own set of quirks:

  • Always read your font end user license agreement (font EULAs). No two font EULAs are the same. Different foundries permit their fonts to be used in different ways, and these specifications can vary from one font to the next. Font usage needs to be consistent with their EULAs if you want to reduce your compliance risks and avoid font litigation. And this is even more important once you start sharing fonts.
  • Sharing fonts with clients or team members is as easy as attaching the font file to an email. Easy, and incredibly risky. Because once you share a font like this, how will you track its use? A lot of the time, the recipient might not have permission to use that font in the way they intend under the terms of that specific font EULA. They might not even have a license for that font. Many organizations attempt to compensate for the latter by over-purchasing font licenses. Without a comprehensive font management solution, this can be the ultimate Pandora’s Box.

Finally, are you sure you’re sharing the exact right font? Are you absolutely sure? There are at least half a million fonts out there, and this number doesn’t include custom fonts. So, the actual number is likely far greater.

What does this have to do with font sharing? Everything.

If you don’t use the exact same font from one document to the next, it can erode your brand voice and client trust. Small changes in kerning and tracking from one font to the next can propagate throughout your entire document, altering its appearance and derailing your workflow. A lot of font management solutions compare fonts based on a few simple attributes, yet this is not enough to ensure an exact font match.

In short, sharing fonts by email is an unnecessary risk on multiple fronts. There is a better way.

The most secure font management solutions allow you to create workgroups of different fonts and individuals. This way you can share fonts on a per project, per user basis. Add new fonts to a project on the fly. Add new members to a workgroup as needed, and then scale back once the project is done. With this approach, you can easily track font usage and monitor your font licenses.

The alternative to this kind of centralized font distribution system? Font files flying back and forth by email and flash drive. No way to generate reports on font usage. No visibility into your font license or font spend. And no way to regulate font sharing.

What’s the Right Way to Share Digital Assets?

Finding the right digital assets for your next project doesn’t have to take all day. And sharing images and fonts doesn’t have to break your workflow. Save yourself from this stress.

With the right processes and systems in place, you can share all your digital assets faster and more securely than ever before. When you look at all your options for sharing images and fonts, consider your needs for accuracy, speed, and security. Focusing on one factor without the other two could expose you to more risk than you’re willing to take.

Explore our solutions, and let’s talk about your needs for sharing digital assets.

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