Thinking About Some DAM Taxonomy

When we master taxonomy, it makes our lives exponentially easier, allowing our organization to shift from institutional memory and asking someone “where’s that thing again?” to a much more reliable digital asset management system.

Taxonomy: the science or technique of classification. While the word itself sounds somewhat mysterious and potentially painful, the reality is that it’s one that we as content marketers should embrace.

Why? Because when we master taxonomy, it makes our lives exponentially easier, allowing our organization to shift from institutional memory and asking someone “where’s that thing again?” to a much more reliable system, empowering everyone in the organization to quickly put their hands on the assets they need, when they need them.

Creating a Visual Taxonomy in Acquia DAM

Creating a Visual Taxonomy at Acquia

The image was one that we’d used ONE TIME on the Acquia website, and I knew it came from Getty. But finding it again on the Getty website so I could redownload the original and put it into our DAM?

That was a miserable experience, because the way Getty tags its images and the way Acquia looks for and refers to images are two totally different things. Once I did find it —  perhaps half an hour later — I added it to our DAM, first donning my mindreader cap to give it Acquia-appropriate keywords so that when someone in our organization searches for it, they won’t have to spend 30 minutes to find it.

Sound familiar? Have you found yourself searching your stock photo site and emerging minutes (or hours) later wondering where all of the time went? At Acquia, we envision our DAM empowering us to create a visual taxonomy, allowing us to curate a subset of stock images that effectively represents and reflects our brand. Instead of sending our marketers and blog authors to the time suck that is Getty, we’ll send them to our DAM where we have photos, illustrations and images that fit our brand’s concepts, tone and colors.

Additionally, because we’ve curated these images ourselves, we will have been able to add keywords and phrases that are in our “language.” So the Rubik’s cube image that we bulk imported from Getty will have the keyword phrase “solving a problem” added to it by the time our blog authors search the DAM, making it easier for them to determine if it’s the right image for their post.

As a business, we realize that custom photography for our website and blog posts simply isn’t an option — we’re going to be fishing from the same stock photography pond as every other business. However, by putting a bit more strategy behind our image choices and using the power of our DAM to help institute that visual taxonomy across our organization, we hope to create a stronger, more consistent brand image.

DAM Taxonomy Best Practices

DAM Taxonomy Best Practices

While we’ve been implementing our own DAM here at Acquia, there are a few things we’ve learned from a taxonomy perspective. Here’s what I suggest as best practices, based on my own experience:

  • Prioritize. Especially for large websites, prioritize your content based on value, then go deep. In other words, focus on your most important images/ebooks/webinars/etc. and get your taxonomy “locked and loaded” on these so you’re poised to start benefiting from their value ASAP. As a content manager, you likely have a good gut feeling about what content this is; check in with your analytics data to ensure you aren’t missing anything.
  • Target. Aim for around 10 keywords per asset. If you need fewer or more, no problem, but 10 is a good goal. Add too many keywords and the asset will show up for everything, rendering your search function less useful than it could be. And try not to overthink when giving keywords. Your first thoughts are likely your best thoughts.
    • Keyword Ideas. At Acquia, I specifically suggest the following keyword ideas: the asset’s subject, any product names mentioned, and the author or person featured in the piece if it’s relevant.
    • Partners & Clients. I also insist we tag any partners or clients mentioned, so that if Client A changes their name to Client AB in the future we can bulk replace it.
    • Internal Names. If we have some internal reference name or nickname — for example, at Acquia we have one annual presentation we refer to as the Mother of All Demos or MOAD, I would add the keywords “mother of all demos” and “MOAD” to that asset too.

Acquia DAM Taxonomy Details

When it comes to taxonomy, Acquia DAM does a lot of the heavy lifting for us marketers, automating many of the tasks that would otherwise fall on our shoulders. For example, when I find photos I like at Getty or another stock image provider and bulk import them, the DAM brings in their keywords and other metadata, giving me a good starting point for our own keyword data. Does Getty have a ton of keywords that aren’t relevant for our needs? Of course. But I’ll be the first to admit it’s much easier to sit and hit the delete button on keywords that don’t work than it is to come up with an on-demand list.

Additionally, not only does the DAM capture and let us search by file type, file name and date added, but working with our development team I was able to set up custom drop-down menus that let folks enter things like an asset’s concept, mood, related images and even campaigns for which an asset is appropriate. While you can set up your DAM with drop-down menus that are specific to your situation, my hope for us is to help support our creative director’s vision of creating a visual language for the Acquia brand and helping our marketers better understand how and why certain images “sound” different than others.

Taxonomy Ain’t So Bad

So that’s DAM taxonomy in a nutshell — see, it wasn’t so bad. In fact, it’s scientifically proven* that spending just a little time thinking about taxonomy at the beginning of your DAM setup will make your life all butterflies and roses.

*This is actually not true, but it is highly likely.

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