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DAM vs. Dropbox: Have you outgrown your file storage?

by Stephanie Erbesfield  |  June 5, 2023

11 min. read
Man considering cloud storage vs dam for managing brand assets over orange background.

Dropbox is one of the most recognizable file storage systems on the market. But name recognition doesn’t always mean it’s the right solution for you and your business. Don’t you want to manage your assets rather than just store them? That’s where a digital asset management (DAM) solution comes in. In the battle for your asset organization, it’s DAM vs. Dropbox.

What’s a good alternative to Dropbox?

The first question that comes to mind when you consider that Dropbox might not be the best solution is: what’s a good alternative to Dropbox? There are many alternatives to Dropbox – the internet is flooded with file management solutions ranging from Google Drive, OneDrive, WeTransfer, Box, or MEGA. But if you’re ready to scale and take your digital assets to the next level, why look for a simple alternative? Especially when there’s a solution that will elevate your file organization once and for all: a digital asset management (DAM) solution.

If you’ve never heard of a DAM, you’re not alone. DAMs are the best-kept secret in file management and cloud storage solutions. They’re ready to change how your teams work – providing you with better workflows and better ROI on your content while giving you the plethora of features you always wanted. It’s what we wish Dropbox could do: store, organize, manage, distribute, and provide unparalleled searchability for all types of digital assets – videos, images, PDFs, and design files. It’s not just about storage, it’s about collaboration, brand management, and having every asset available when you need it. It’s about having a single source of truth.

So, when we talk about Dropbox alternatives for business, there’s only one answer: it must be a digital asset management platform.

What is a digital asset management (DAM) solution?

A digital asset management solution is your new best friend. It’s a system that allows you to manage, store, organize, search, and distribute all your digital assets from one single source of truth that you can access anywhere at any time. And because of the unique features that digital asset management offers, you can improve your team’s efficiency, streamline workflows, distribute content more effectively, and collaborate with internal and external teams easily.

There’s much more to a DAM than just that. Throughout this article, we’ll highlight what makes a DAM a truly unique tool that cloud storage solutions simply can’t match. Let’s jump right in!

Women posing in an image inside of dam library with a comment from a user for approval and download presets, all over blue background.

DAM vs. Dropbox: key differences

Dropbox has been a staple of cloud storage since its inception in 2007. 700 million registered users can’t be wrong, can they? While Dropbox may have worked for you at the beginning of your digital asset management journey, the needs of your team (internal and external) and the demands of content creation can catapult you beyond what Dropbox can provide.

If you’re ready to move on from Dropbox but aren’t sure about the impact moving to a DAM could make, don’t worry; we have an easy DAM vs. Dropbox comparison guide below to see what you’ve missed.

1. Organized. Visually.

See your files in a whole new light – or at least a new way. With a DAM, instead of seeing small thumbnails or just a list of file names and dates. And with features like smart albums, you can see your assets by type of content—making it easier to view on the fly.

2. Unlimited version control

With a DAM, you can put worry to rest with the best version control around. You no longer need to upload and reupload different versions of an asset into your content library, leaving your colleagues wondering what changes were made or which version is the latest.

You can upload a new version alongside the existing asset, preserving comments and its link, ensuring everyone sees the latest iteration. Plus, you can revert to an older version or check on comments from the last iteration—it’s all right there.

3. Hide and seek no more

You and your team do a lot, and spending time searching through document names like “bannerdesign_socialmediacampaign3final_FINAL.jpg” should not be sucking up your valuable time.

DAMs allow you to tag every asset with keywords, labels, and even metadata. What’s metadata? Metadata is data associated with digital files that contain additional information, such as file type or resolution.

You can add keywords or metadata for anything, including themes, products, campaigns, color, or even the content year. This guarantees that when you’re looking for files, regardless of the file name, you can find it – or any related files.

4. Automate your way to efficiency

The automation offered by a DAM solution makes using one a no-brainer compared to Dropbox. Add metadata, tags, and keywords automatically using artificial intelligence (AI). The AI can suggest labels that may fit your assets, helping with searchability.

Many DAMs also use facial recognition to tag assets with the featured individual’s name, even if more than one person appears in the asset. This makes searching a breeze, especially if you’re looking for campaigns featuring a model or a headshot of your CEO.

Other possible features include automatic content delivery or image cropping that requires only one stored version of an image. These features depend on the DAM solution, so look at the product offerings and ensure you get the facts about the DAMs you’re interested in from each software vendor. That way, you can see the DAM in action with a demo or a free trial.

5. Real collaboration where you can see it

You’ll be able to feel the effect a DAM has on your collaboration just by using a few features offered. To keep in sync with your external collaborators, check out portals—small libraries that are separate from your main library. These can be public or private but are intended for users without privileges in the main library. Bet you can’t get that with Dropbox!

Whether they’re a retail store selling your products, a franchise, or one of your many global offices, users can access these curated portals in a snap. Your collaborators don’t have to worry about using something out of date, and you don’t have to worry about them having access to files that aren’t approved. A DAM solution can eliminate that concern for both parties and streamline the workflow for everyone.

In addition to portals, DAMs feature upload links. This feature allows external collaborators to upload their assets right into your DAM, and you can add requirements, such as metadata tagging, ensuring that every asset uploaded gets tagged in a searchable manner.

6. Security is a high priority (for you and your organization)

A DAM gives you immense control over your content security and a high level of visibility into security. Some DAMs even offer HIPAA compliance in addition to security compliances that are more common, like SOC 2.

Additionally, DAMs often offer 24/7 platform monitoring to stamp out threats before they materialize, meaning you’ll hear about the thwarted attacks from your DAM software provider and not from the news.

7. Integrations are essential

You likely have a lot of tools in your creative arsenal, everything from Adobe Creative Suite to Hootsuite to monday.com and more. You need to find a DAM solution that will help you create a content ecosystem with the creative tools and tech stack you already have in place.

When you select your DAM, you must keep your existing tech stack in mind. With DAM integrations, you can take your efficiency up a notch by never having to leave the program you’re working in to access your asset library. That means your team can focus on revenue-generating activities instead of jumping from program to program because they can complete tasks in one place and move on to the next efficiently.

Approved brand images inside of a dam library overtop green background.

What a DAM can do for your team

Now that you know the key differences in the DAM vs. Dropbox discussion, you might be ready to explore several available DAM offerings. If you’re still thinking about the benefits of a DAM: ask not what you can do for a DAM but what a DAM can do for you.

Organizing and managing

No matter what size or team is, if you’re managing digital assets, you need more than just a place to store your images and videos. You need something that is built to handle every aspect of your workflow. A digital asset management solution is designed with that in mind and does much more than just store your digital assets.

With a DAM solution, you can house your entire brand identity, including your style guides, in an easily accessible place – right in your DAM. You can also include style guides inside of portals, making them easier than ever to access by everyone. Additionally, you can create multiple iterations of your style guide to send out to anyone, from your internal team to external vendors to brand influencers. A DAM makes brand management easy by setting you up with all the tools you need to keep your brand in order and your teams in sync, all in one place.

ROI + time-saving

Did you know DAM users are 3x more likely than others to have seen a significant increase in content ROI in the last year? We did (and you can read all about it in our 2023 State of Digital Content report). And our research shows it’s all thanks to powerful search. With the unparalleled search that a DAM gives you, you’ll be able to find your content, old and new, much easier. You can start to repurpose your content more effectively – whether that’s taking an old ad campaign and breathing new life into it for social media or taking a gated infographic and turning it into a fun newsletter with a DAM. You have content waiting to be loved again, and with a DAM, you can do it faster than ever.

Flexibility in everything you do (but especially collaboration)

Collaboration must not be a hurdle in the age of fully remote and hybrid teams. Whatever’s in your tech stack must facilitate and encourage collaboration, internally and externally. Easier collaboration means more efficient workflows and the ability to accelerate your go-to markets with products and campaigns. Everything that might have been lost in an email with a Dropbox link is now inside your DAM solution.

A DAM gives you a level of flexibility that cloud storage solutions can’t, which is imperative when working collaboratively, whether you’re across the hall, the state, or the globe. Whether those teams are internal or external, a DAM solution is accessible anywhere with an internet connection. This open collaboration allows users to work together right inside the DAM software to add comments, request changes, or ask questions about the asset being reviewed. This prevents the age-old back and forth via email, ensuring that no comment is missed and that every asset you and your collaborators review is the latest version.

Building your future around a DAM

As your organization’s creative and content needs continue evolving, how you store that content must grow with you. Dropbox or Google Drive may be the status quo in simply storing files; why would you want to continue with the status quo? There is more to storing files than just looking at a file name, and if you’re ready, you can make a DAM the center of your tech stack.

Doing so means a commitment to your future and, even more importantly, a commitment to your present. You’re taking the first steps towards your future efficiency and making these improvements over Dropbox (which are going to have a huge impact!):

  • Customizable workflows that live inside of your DAM solution
  • Portals to share content with users
  • Upload links that allow external teams to upload content to your library
  • Style guides for internal and external teams with your logos, typography, colors, and more
  • Branded templates created by your designers and available to your team
  • Download presets to ensure that images are downloaded to the perfect, pre-determined size and aspect ratio every time
  • AI that can help you amplify your tagging game by suggesting keywords for assets
  • Unparalleled searchability, with more advanced search options
  • Facial recognition that allows for the automatic tagging of featured individuals

There’s so much more a DAM can do than just this! With a DAM, you’ll be able to make the most out of the content you’ve already created and the content you haven’t even thought of yet.

Are DAMs on your mind? Canto is head and shoulders above the rest

Canto is the best-in-class DAM solution for businesses of every size. Canto is the global digital asset management software leader and is trusted by over 2,500 international brands. Canto helps some of the most innovative and recognizable brands bring order to their digital assets and efficiency to their workflows.

With Canto, our customers have been empowered to take back control of their digital assets and find a system of collaboration and organization that has streamlined their workflows and increased their content ROI. No matter what the future may hold, Canto is the partner to lead the way on your digital transformation journey.

Sign up for a demo today to learn how Canto can help your organization move from cloud storage to an organized, customized DAM.