The Importance of Version Control for Managing Digital Assets

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Locating the current version of a creative file can often feel like a wild goose chase. You might have a dozen to choose from, each with a slightly different headline, or logo, or font. Why have they all been updated recently? Did the company font change? Was the headline rewritten based on analytics? Which one do you use?

Trying to manage various versions of brand assets can be downright maddening. 

Fortunately, version control can help you easily organize every last asset and retrieve the one you need, instantly.

What is version control? 

Version control is functionality that allows you to manage and track each version of a file from a consistent location. By aggregating all asset iterations in one place, version control documents its history. This allows you to see how a file has evolved and understand why it’s changed over time. And perhaps most importantly, version control allows you to trust that you’re using the correct file.   

Version control options can be found in stand-alone applications or embedded in various types of software, including digital asset management (DAM) systems.

Why is version control important?

Version control plays a critical role in creative workflows by helping to eliminate brand inconsistencies, lost time, rework, and even legal dilemmas. 

With version control, history of the asset is captured — allowing teams to confidently select the most up-to-date and brand-approved file each time. And if all team members are using the correct file version, no matter where they are in the world, all brand communications using that asset will be accurate and cohesive. 

Further, version control gives creatives a point of reference to retrieve prior versions of an asset if it needs to be reused. Reliable access to the right file creates efficiencies across teams, departments, and distribution channels.

How does version control fit into DAM?

Version control was originally developed to support creative production workflows, by regulating who could view, download, and share current and prior versions of “work in progress” assets. Within DAM software, this functionality works in tandem with permissions and roles to regulate access to released, unreleased, and expired assets.

DAM platforms also allow metadata to be attached to individual assets, to capture notes about each version’s use and changes. This data provides valuable context in documenting and understanding an asset’s history. 

And version control within DAM platforms has become even more essential with the rise of share links, embed codes, and integrations. Share links allow assets to be quickly and easily shared with anyone via a URL; whereas embed codes are added into HTML to display an asset in a web content management system (CMS), public website, or other online source. 

Both share links and embed codes allow you to create once, publish everywhere (COPE). This means that when an asset version is updated in the DAM system, it is automatically updated everywhere else that file is linked or embedded. So with one version update, teams are managing the integrity and consistency of their brand across touchpoints. 

This synchronized functionality also applies to integrations between DAM platforms and other software solutions in a marketing technology (martech) stack. Here, version control allows DAM admins to dictate which files are shared between systems, ensuring the right data is exchanged, and allowing changes to be made in multiple places. With DAM as the central source of truth, any time an asset version is updated that change is automatically reflected anywhere the asset is fed via integration.

More often than not, creative workflows are nonlinear. With each iteration new feedback is added, ideas shift, and the piece evolves. Leveraging version control helps manage this process and ensures that only the latest, approved version is available and visible for use. Don’t get caught up in complicated brand management workflows...give your marketers peace of mind with version control. 

Get in touch to learn more about how version control works within the Widen Collective®.

Topics: Brand management

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