DAM system deep dive: Unique ID codes & filenames

igital Asset Management Unique ID Codes & File Names

We’ll assume you know what filenames are, since they have become constant in our professional and personal lives. The term “unique ID codes” may be unfamiliar, though, especially if you’re fairly new to the world of digital asset management. Actually, unique ID codes are a critical component to most people’s lives, and in the world of DAM software they keep your system running efficiently and your digital assets organized.

At first glance, unique ID codes and filenames might seem like the same thing. But there are marked differences. In this article, we’re going to take a close look at both unique ID codes and filenames, clearly defining both in the process. We’ll also identify their differences and discuss best practices that can help you use each to their fullest potential.

What are unique ID codes?

Although the term “unique ID codes,” may not be familiar, they’re actually something most people use on a daily basis. In the analog world, unique ID codes include your phone number, email address, social security number, zip code, license plate, and credit card number. In essence, it’s exactly what it sounds like — a unique code comprised of numbers and/or letters that are one-of-a-kind.

Digital Asset Management Unique ID Code Definition

In the examples mentioned above, there’s a mix of auto-generated and user-generated codes. Setting up an email account or choosing a custom license plate are examples of user-generated codes. You enter your preferred code, in this case, the email address or plate information, and the system tells you if it’s available or taken.

Although some DAM software has this type of functionality, there’s really no room for user-generated unique ID codes in your digital asset management system. Why? Because every digital asset — whether it’s imagery, video, audio or documents — absolutely must have its own unique ID code. Once you have more than one user, the potential of creating duplicate ID codes rises.

Duplicated ID codes can cause confusion and lost time in an organization. One of the functions of your DAM system is to help you avoid these types of problems, which is why any solid system should auto-generate unique ID codes. That way there’s no chance of a duplicated ID code.

Unique ID codes allow digital asset managers to accurately track an asset through their DAM system. Since ID codes are infinitely expandable, you won’t run into problems if you need to scale your digital asset management system up later on. This is why it’s so important to qualify whether DAM solutions you’re considering have the ability to auto-generate unique ID codes.

DAM systems that don’t have this capability usually encounter problems because of human naming convention limitations — especially when you’re dealing with multiple users. Plus, a system without auto-generated unique ID codes can be a true nightmare when it comes to versioning assets. In addition, handling metadata on a large-scale is much easier, and less time-consuming, when every digital asset has its own unique ID code.

Just as important as these auto-generated codes, are the filenames associated with your digital assets. Unlike unique ID codes, these should absolutely NOT be auto-generated for a multitude of reasons …

Filename use within your DAM system & your SEO efforts

Over the years, we’ve seen filenames misused, under-used, or completely ignored. Yet the filename holds incredible power within your digital asset management system, as well as in your website, blog, and social media efforts.

DAM system filenames

Well-composed filenames in your DAM system are part of your metadata, which helps you locate digital assets or asset groupings.

Filenames depend on the human brain, as opposed to a unique ID code-generating algorithm, to keep things clear and organized. In the taxonomy of your digital asset management software, you’ll probably have parent and child categories that need to be differentiated from each other by filenaming conventions and metadata. For example, digital assets for social media might live in the parent category of “Social Media” with child categories like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, etc.

Each of these child categories may contain a version of the same asset for optimal sharing through respective channels. In other words, imagery and/or messaging may differ between Facebook and LinkedIn, making it important to use an appropriate filename that clearly identifies each. In its simplest form, this may be “DAM-Webinar-Summer-2015-FB” for Facebook, and “DAM-Webinar-Summer-2015-LI” for LinkedIn.

If this simple approach is well thought out and adopted at your organization, things within your digital asset management system will be pretty clear. We want to take things one step further, because what’s clear internally may not be enough to engage search engines like Google and Bing so they include you in results for relevant keyword phrases. In other words, if your digital assets are going to be used on your website, blog or social media channels, your filenames need to include optimal keywords.

Digital Asset Management Filename Definition

We are now entering the realm of search engine optimization (SEO). Whether you have an expert on staff or hire a professional, you’ll want a comprehensive keyword report that summarizes the best keywords for your industry. This report should be based on many factors including your company size, website size, website age, tenacity of your competition, and the region(s) where your customers exist.

Once you have the keyword report, you can share it with your team and begin using filename conventions that will offer good SEO value. Naming the digital asset upfront with a keyword-rich filename streamlines the process down the road when the asset gets disseminated through your website, blog or social media.

If you use a filename that makes sense to you, say “ID-Codes-Blog-Post,” the search engines have very little idea what you are referring to. Instead, the filename should read something like this: “Digital-Asset-Management-Unique-ID-Codes-Filenames.” Now the search engines have a clear idea of what it is your digital asset is about. There’s no need to include the word “blog” in the filename.

Using SEO-rich filenames from the start is a great way to make sure your keywords are included when digital assets are used and shared. Many DAM systems allow for renaming and of course, you can change a filename once it’s downloaded, but we recommend streamlining the process up front.


As you can see, both unique ID codes and filenames play important roles in your digital asset management system and beyond. The implications of proper use of unique ID codes within your DAM system, as well as optimizing your filenames for dissemination through your website, blog, and social media will not only save you time but also improve your company’s efficiency and drive traffic to your brand — creating more opportunity to connect with potential customers and convert them to raving fans.

More info

Interested in learning more about digital asset management? Head over to our Knowledge page for related resources including Digital Asset Management: What to Know Before You Go, and our Metadata Quick Start Guide, which is a great document to help you plan and organize your asset information.

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