Left to their own devices, employees have very different ways of naming documents. Some might not name files at all, which can lead to a long list of “untitled documents” in folders. This can create a nightmare for other people who may need to access the files they work on to complete job tasks. To avoid confusing situations like these, proactive managers integrate file naming best practices into their DAM solution strategies.
It’s not uncommon for companies to have different naming conventions across departments. This may result from the need to identify variables in one field that are non-existent in another. Even so, these best practices are applicable across all specialties.
Even the most complex fields can be simplified into short but descriptive file names. Just be careful not to make file names too descriptive because the preview might not include the entire title and physical storage often struggles with long file names.
Example: Jenny is saving a marketing brochure for Client X. This is a seasonal brochure that details their offerings for the coming year. As per company practice, she saves it as “ClientX2022BrochureNewArrivals”.
Good file names don’t exist in a vacuum. Separating files into appropriately named and organized folders is of equal importance. This can also reduce the need for including some data in the file names, thereby shortening them.
Example: Jenny saves Client X’s new-year brochure in a folder tree that manifests as Client X > Q1 2022 > Brochures. Consequently, she could then save the file as “CX22BrochureNewArrivals”.
The only way to ensure a consistent naming practice is to establish naming conventions. Having a template in place makes it easier for workers to give files appropriate names that anyone can access and easily understand.
Example: Just in case files are stored in the wrong folders by accident, the team lead insists that file names still have all the information in the saved name: [Client Name][Year][Type of Document][Campaign Name].
Clients with big and frequent campaigns often have several fields recognized in a particular sequence. This could include a set of files published over a period of time or drafts of a particular item. Failure to use zeros could lead to Item 1 and Item 11 falling one behind the other.
Example: Jenny created several drafts of the new arrivals brochure before Client X finally approved one. As per company policy, she saved and numbered each draft. She named the first draft “001ClientX2022BrochureNewArrivals”.
Most people use spaces and underscores when naming files. However, most software applications do not translate special characters well or might not recognize them at all. This can make files almost impossible to find across platforms.
Example: Nick is new to the office and completes version two of the brochure. He saves it as “002.ClientX2022BrochureNewArrivals”. However, the software now tries to treat everything after 002 as a file type, which corrupts the file and makes it impossible to open as is.
In your organization, employees likely already have ways of abbreviating certain words. This may stem from industry jargon, or it may have developed naturally within the company. Using abbreviations can help you shorten file names without losing the richness of the name.
Example: Within the print marketing department, Jenny and her team usually refer to brochures as “BR.” This is fairly well-known within the organization, so she decides to shorten the file name to “ClientX2022BRNewArrivals”.
Getting employee buy-in is integral to ensuring compliance and consistent use. However, achieving this is often easier said than done. Here are a few things you can do to get your employees on board.
Once you create an official naming convention, document it. Doing so legitimizes it as part of the process. Documentation also provides a benchmark that employees can turn to when they need a refresher.
File naming might seem like a trivial item to add to a training curriculum for new hires. However, doing so ensures that employees know from the start that there is an established document naming strategy in place.
The naming best practice used to satisfy the needs of an organization in its early stages might not work as well when it undergoes big changes. To prevent employees from creating whole new naming rules, update the rules ahead of major changes to chart an established chart forward.
Regardless of what file naming best practices you choose, you need a branded platform to facilitate easy storage, organization, advanced search, and access. Marcom provides this and so much more with our digital asset management software. Are you ready to help your employees dig less and do more?