3 Reasons Why Folders Are Slowing You Down (and What to Use Instead)


One concept we strongly believe in at Brandfolder is “less is more.” From writing effective, succinct copy, to building powerfully simple features, we know that honing in on what customers truly need — and leaving unnecessary clutter behind — is what elevates a product from good, to really, really, ridiculously good.

Ben Stiller in Zoolander

Zoolander memes aside, we wanted to illustrate this concept in action on a product feature that segments the DAM market today: folders.

To cut to the chase, we don’t believe folders within folders is the most effective way of organizing your digital assets. In fact, it often does more harm than good, causing frustration and inefficiencies across teams.

Some of you may be thinking, “If you think folders stink so much, then why is your company named Brandfolder?” Well, my clever friend, we chose the name “Brandfolder” because of its immediate, universal connotation. Someone who’s never heard of digital asset management can easily understand that Brandfolder is a platform for organizing and managing your brand. Like “Kleenex” to “tissue,” we wanted our name to be synonymous with our product’s function. (If you’re a word-lover like me, this is called a “proprietary eponym,” or more casually, a “brandnomer.”)

However, when it comes down to the technical utility of folders, we’ve found that it’s an outdated, inept method of organization that causes clutter and confusion. I mean, just look at this official Gmail blog post that facetiously dates folders back to the “Paleolithic Era” — and that post itself was written in 2007.

Gmail blog post

So, why aren’t we keen on folders? Here are three important reasons:

1. Folders make it difficult for you to find things.

Just Google Image search “folder structure example,” and feel your blood pressure rise. It’s a collection of earnest, yet headache-inducing tutorials on the best way to name and organize folders.

folder heirarchy structure

If folders are supposed to aid organization and make employees’ lives easier, why is there so much literature on “folder naming best practices”? Anything that requires in-depth documentation is probably a good indicator that the system is not simple or easy to adopt.

2. Folders make it difficult for others to find things.

Once you have folders set up just the way you like them, how do you ensure that others understand the specific hierarchy and taxonomy you used? If you have many folders with many assets; or even many folders within other folders, this can make it difficult to quickly find assets.

3. Folder structures are rigid, making it difficult to accommodate multi-faceted assets.

What happens when you have an asset that belongs in many different folders? Let’s say your company is launching a new product, and has an accompanying product spec sheet which includes the product’s description, features, benefits, and sales information. The marketing team works with the product team to write the copy, but the design team arranges it in a one-sheeter. Sales uses the spec sheet to communicate with distributors, and the biz dev team uses it to collaborate with partners. Which department’s folders would this spec sheet live in? What happens when one department needs to make a revision?

According to the folder system, an asset can belong to only one folder. But, this simply isn’t the nature of many of the assets we work with today. Revisions, approvals, and collaboration require a more fluid, flexible system.

These three reasons are exactly why we love using tags at Brandfolder. Assets can have multiple tags, eliminating the rigid organizational structure that comes with folders. Remember that product spec sheet dilemma? With Brandfolder, you can tag the spec sheet with each department that uses it. Or, you can stack all files pertaining to a specific product inside one Brandfolder asset. This empowers anyone from any department to grab what they need, when they need it.

Check out how FINIS Swim stacks product images, a comparison chart, tech sheet, and inventory detail sheet under a single product asset, “Swimmer’s Snorkel.”

FINIS' Brandfolder

You can also pin commonly-used tags to the top of your Brandfolder to further organize assets. Check out how our friends at Map My Fitness leverages pinned tags to promote different apps.

Additionally, Brandfolder enables you to: search specific tags, use our auto-suggest feature to create consistency with tagging, and add or delete a large number of tags at once with our bulk action bar.

tagging example

In short, tags are the easiest, most effective way to keep your assets organized and help others quickly find what they’re searching for. It’s a flexible system that we believe surpasses the functionality of folders, and matches the collaborative, fluid nature of digital assets today.

Want to learn how to better organize and manage your digital assets? Check out our Collections feature, which allows you to create and share a customized group of assets. Or, just click the banner below to get in touch!

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