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What Is Digital Asset Lifecycle?

The phrase “digital asset lifecycle” expresses how a digital asset is used in a workflow from creation to retirement and archive, and the many steps in between.

  1. Reconcile/Audit/Assess
  2. Acquire/Create
  3. Iterate/Edit/Change
  4. Deliver/Publish/Share/Distribute
  5. Store/Archive/Search
  6. Repurpose/Upcycle
  7. Retire



An assessment may seem like an odd first step in the process, but nothing simply springs forth into being.

The fact is that many digital assets can be built from various other licensed resources. For example, a PDF is a digital asset. It may contain several licensed fonts and images — both of which are also assets.

An assessment empowers creators and managers to better understand the current state, potential value, and true cost value of a new digital asset, so they know how to best manage it.


Some assets are created in-house, while others are acquired from external sources.

Iterate/Review/ Approve

Content production is rarely a linear process. Research and input lead to fine-tuning content so that it can be as effective as possible. This step may lead to discoveries of latent value for assets contained within your systems.


Whether your content is intended for customers, clients, or internal team members, the publishing step is when the asset is shared. Your digital asset reaches its intended recipient, and its effectiveness can start to be tracked.


Now that the digital asset has been created and delivered, it needs to be stored in a way that it can be easily found and reused. Applying metadata to the asset ensures that team members can easily locate it. One reason may be so it can be used as an informative resource for future creative works. However, even greater value for this stored content can be achieved with the next step.


If the last e-book, video, or PDF that your team created was the most successful one yet, there are lessons to be learned from its execution. Repurposing and recycling existing content allow you to extract maximum value from your assets. With improved tracking and analytics, you can also distinguish whether you need new imagery or fonts, or if the same licenses are still valid. This step is integral to reducing cost and maximizing the overall return on your investments.


Once a digital asset has had as much insight and value extracted from it as possible, it is time to retire the asset. This is appropriate for assets that use brand elements that feature outdated design, messaging, etc. Unlike storage and archival, retirement removes the asset from easily searchable collections. This ensures that the asset isn’t mixed up with current digital resources and used inappropriately. The asset is still accessible, but may be stored in a separate location, and even compressed to save bandwidth.

The lifecycle of each digital asset is interesting in and of itself. However, when we take a step back, it’s how all these assets interact with creative individuals, teams, and even other pieces of content that truly informs insights and strategy.

Understanding the Digital Asset Ecosystem

Each digital asset has its distinct lifecycle, but it is not siloed. Digital asset lifecycles interconnect with one another and also connect with people. These assets are more than just files. They are the connective tissue that binds together the work of individuals, teams, and help organizations prosper.


Gaining insight into how these connections work is crucial to making more informed business decisions. Metadata, artificial intelligence, and machine learning can all lead to improved tracking and analysis of digital assets, transforming them into tools for how organizations function, where they excel, and actionable insights for how they can improve.

Digital assets become even more valuable as they inform overall business insights and decision-making. By increasing workflow transparency, organizations can identify:

  • Lifetime value and ROI of specific digital assets
  • How to improve digital asset processes and general workflow
  • Content gaps, needs, and best practices based on data
  • Most productive individuals and teams within the organization
  • Specific relationships between digital assets and customers/clients

At Extensis, we believe that the future of digital asset management lies in this interconnected analysis. That’s why we’re working to build and improve tools that enable greater insights into how our customers’ digital asset collections — from imagery and fonts to documents and creative design — work independently and cohesively.

Optimizing the digital asset lifecycle begins with choosing the right tool for your business’s distinct needs. Our comprehensive guide explains what to consider when you’re ready to invest in a digital asset management solution.