BAM, DAM, and MAM - what’s the difference and how do you know which one you need

BAM vs DAM vs MAM: what’s the difference and which is best?

They might sound similar but BAM, MAM and DAM software have different features and functionality. Choosing the right one for your business needs will depend on your specific use case. Here’s how DAM - digital asset management - software compares to the other and why it might be right for you.

What do BAM, DAM and MAM mean?

First things first, what does this alphabet soup actually mean? In all of these acronyms, the ‘AM’ stands for Asset Management. But it’s the type of assets that makes the difference. 

  • BAM - Brand Asset Management 
  • DAM - Digital Asset Management
  • MAM - Media Asset Management 

Similarities - and benefits - of BAM, DAM and MAM

At first glance, BAM, DAM and MAM seem very similar. They’re all software solutions that allow organizations to store, search and retrieve assets used in content creation. 

They provide a single source-of-truth for file management and retrieval, making it easier for users to find assets and use them appropriately. This, in turn, delivers higher quality and consistency in outputs. 

As you’ll see from the table below, the core benefits are almost identical.

Benefits of BAM, DAM and MAM

But the closer you look, the more obvious the differences become. It all centres around the first letter of each acronym - indicating Brand, Digital and Media. These hint at the different strategic functions of each system and the specific functionality they deliver. 

Let’s look at each of the systems in more detail before exploring the differences. 

What is a BAM?

A Brand Asset Management system is dedicated to improving brand compliance, by providing employees with easy access to brand assets. That may include:

  • logos - in a range of formats for different uses
  • brand guidelines on how logos, colors, and tone-of-voice should be applied
  • approved images, video, and other assets for employees to use in projects
  • templates or artwork files for employees to customize 

It’s a single source of truth that empowers staff members - even those that aren’t part of a creative team - to produce on-brand communications. This prevents the accidental dilution of a brand through well-intentioned - but poorly executed - content. 

BAM is a curated collection of final assets, designed for a specific purpose - managing brand. DAM, in comparison, holds far more assets, often in different states of completion, and meets a much wider range of user needs.

What is BAM?

What is a DAM?

A Digital Asset Management system is a single source of truth for all of an organization’s digital assets. This may include:

  • Logos and brand assets
  • Images, video, and audio files
  • Artwork - like InDesign and Illustrator files 
  • Slide decks, PDFs, contracts

In fact, as the name suggests, a DAM can hold any digital asset you can think of. Plus, each digital asset is accompanied by metadata, which can be tailored to the type of file. Metadata describes the content, permissions, version history, usage, and more. This makes digital assets discoverable in a few clicks. 

DAM also includes advanced functionality to make creative, marketing, and other operations more streamlined and efficient. Two noteworthy features include the ability to:

  • Integrate DAM with other applications, to deliver digital assets directly to where they’re needed - for example, in design software or your CMS 
  • Automatically transform digital assets based on usage needs - for example, applying crops or color profile changes to image files when they’re downloaded

These make it quicker and easier for employees to discover and deploy assets from your full library of files. 

What is a MAM?

A Media Asset Management system is part of the media supply chain, concerned with video and multimedia files. Despite the name, it’s more than just a management tool - it can also provide specialist functionality to manage post-production work.

At the end of the process, MAM may also be used to manage media sales - such as licensing, rights, and distribution. Modern MAMs may allow for the safe transfer of video files online, and even video streaming through a branded web portal.  

Like a DAM, a MAM system makes assets instantly accessible by adding metadata to files. This increases the value of those files by making them more discoverable, and easier to re-use, repurpose, and sell. 

As you’d expect from software focused on video and multimedia content, a MAM can also analyze the contents of video files to add keywords, and even add timestamps to show where particular content occurs.

What is a MAM?

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Differences between BAM, DAM, and MAM

All three software solutions - BAM, DAM, and MAM - recognize that the value of digital assets is directly linked to how easy they are to find, use and reuse. However, there are distinct differences.

  • BAM is specifically concerned with improving brand outcomes - may be considered a subset of DAM
  • DAM is a comprehensive solution for managing a large variety and quantity of digital assets
  • MAM is specifically concerned with managing video and multimedia files  

As individual software vendors seek to improve the value they offer customers, the line between these systems becomes less clear-cut. 

  • DAM systems have added more video processing functionality
  • MAM has added capabilities around other asset types
  • BAM functionality can be easily delivered within a DAM

So customers need to scope out their needs and carefully research their options.

You may think you just need a BAM for brand asset management. But think around the wider challenges in your business. You may discover there’s a use case for a more comprehensive DAM solution.

On the flip side, you may think you need a DAM solution. But think about how you’ll use it... Do you really need full DAM functionality or will a more limited solution - like BAM - deliver the specific functions you need?

Differences between BAM, DAM, and MAM

Which do I need - BAM, DAM, or MAM?

Hopefully, the descriptions above have helped you narrow down the type of product you need. Despite surface similarities, the three systems serve very different purposes. 

You probably need a BAM if...

You’re just looking for a system to:

  • centralize and store brand assets - like logos - for easy access by employees
  • curate an approved selection of finished brand assets 
  • provide brand templates and guidelines 

You probably need a DAM if...

You’re looking for a system that lets you:

  • centralize and store a wide variety of asset types
  • add meaningful metadata to aid discoverability 
  • create automatic versions and crops on the fly
  • integrate with other applications to streamline production workflows

You probably need a MAM if…

You’re looking for a system to:

  • centralize and store specifically video and multimedia assets
  • add meaningful metadata to aid discoverability 
  • provide easy access to media assets for post-production activities
  • potentially provide a platform for streaming and distribution 

WoodWing Swivle - the fast-launch DAM for busy brands

If you want to launch your DAM in days, not weeks, then WoodWing Swivle is for you. Our Digital Asset Management system is fast to implement and intuitive to use, so you’ll be up and running in no time. It’s fast, flexible, and favored by brand managers and digital marketers around the globe. 

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