Air alternatives: Which DAM is best for your brand?

Faith Uzuegbu
6
minute read
Written By
Faith Uzuegbu
February 5, 2024

Air is a popular digital asset management (DAM) system for small and growing brands looking to streamline their content operations. It has several project management features (which we will get into), plus a simple interface that makes it easy to fine-tune your creative processes.   

However, whilst it excels in content operations, it doesn’t offer some of the key DAM features that ecommerce brands need to get their visual content out into the wild. For example, if you need to share product visuals with your retailers and wholesalers, you’ll need to invite (and pay for) individual users to access your account, unless you opt for a more expensive plan. 😬

In this article, we’ll walk you through Air’s pros and cons and offer alternative DAMs for your brand. We’ll also compare Dash (that’s us) with Air, so you can make the best decision for your brand. 

Air’s pros and cons 

First, let's see what people love (and don't love) about Air. 

Air’s pros 

Here are some of the pros to picking air for your content operations: 

  • Organise assets in multiple views: Air lets you organise content visually using boards and sub-boards. This means you can add an image to multiple boards without duplicating it — making it much easier to manage your assets. 
    On top of that, you can view your boards in Gallery, Table or Kanban formats, depending on what you need. The Kanban format, for example, lets you drag and drop content from one board to another for quick project approvals. 
  • Smart search: Users say searching for an asset in Air is like “Googling your creative work.” Its advanced search functionality automatically adds AI-generated keywords to your digital assets so they're easier to find. You can use additional custom tags for increased asset visibility. But that's not all. 
    Air also gives you Paige, an AI-powered search assistant. Instead of typing out search terms to find an asset, simply ask Paige — just as you would ask a real colleague. 
  • Easy-to-use interface: With Air, you get a visual-asset-first user interface. This translates into clear image previews and a mood board-like grid display. 
    Dash also has a gorgeous user interface. In fact, most of our customers’ DAMs look like beautiful Pinterest feeds 😍 (just take a look Gozney's home page). 

Air’s cons

Despite these handy features, there are a few things Air doesn’t do quite so well. 

  • Limited integrations: Air only supports a handful of integrations: Canva, Zapier, Adobe Premiere Pro, Shopify and Slack. Zapier is only available on the Enterprise plan — limiting what you can do on the Air’s free plan. 

    Also, because Air is primarily designed for creative teams, most of these integrations only help you create assets. Aside from Shopify, they don’t help you deploy assets to your channels. This means you have to manually download and upload content from Air to external platforms like your social media channels. This is far from ideal if you’re a marketing team needing to launch ecommerce campaigns quickly. 

    Dash, on the other hand, has multiple integrations for both creating and deploying assets. As a designer, you can drag and drop assets from Dash into Canva and Adobe Creative Cloud. Finished assets can then be sent back to Dash for approval. Your marketing team can then deploy them to your social platforms using our Hootsuite integration, or drop them into your Shopify store

  • Pricey: Some of Air’s best features are unavailable on the Free and Plus plans. You’ll have to upgrade to the $250 per month Pro plan to access them — which is pretty expensive for smaller businesses. Plus, you’ll end up paying for a few features you don’t need, which is frustrating and a waste of resources. 

    This user, for example, struggles with Air’s pricing structure. In their words, “Air’s pricing is quite high. We're a small team in a startup, and based on the volume of files we need to store and organise, the pricing model is a bit prohibitive.

    Air also has a custom enterprise plan, but this is locked away. You’ll need to get in contact with the team to find out how much this will set you back. It’s worth noting that most DAMs have locked tiers, which is frustrating when you need transparent pricing upfront. At Dash, on the other hand, we never lock away our prices. 🙌

  • No branded portals: Air doesn't let you create a public, searchable view of your assets. Say you need to share creatives with retail partners or the press; you'll need to invite them to your account or upgrade to the enterprise plan to include ‘view-only’ members. This sounds like a simple workaround until you realise that you’re paying for every invite you send — as this user discovered. 

    In Air, all user logins are paid seats. Many DAMs include guest accounts in the price that allow external users to view the workspace and download what they need. Air does not have that. We have a lot of media partners that need creatives, and currently, our workaround is to create a bunch of share links and add those to a landing page.”

    If you choose to use links, you’ll end up with a cumbersome file-sharing process similar to Dropbox or Google Drive

    If you regularly work with retailers, wholesalers and PR teams, this process will frustrate you and your partners. Instead, you should look at a DAM tool (like Dash) that offers portals to help retailers grab product assets fast. (Scoot down to the ‘Dash vs Air: Features’ section of this article to learn more about portals).

Air digital asset management alternatives 

Now you’ve got the scoop on Air’s pros and cons, let’s look at some of the most popular Air alternatives on the market. 

1. Dash: The best DAM for small and growing ecommerce businesses 

Unlike Air, Dash caters to both the creation and deployment of our visual content. 

Features like AI tags, filters and beautiful image previews help you organise and find digital content easily. And image cropping, download presets, portals and our Shopify integration helps you get content to your partners and marketing channels, fast.  

And the best part? Pricing starts at just £79/$109 per month. Every plan gives you access to all of Dash’s features for unlimited users. Plus, you only pay for extra storage if you need it. 

We’ll cover how Dash compares to Air later in this article. 

For now, take a look at our public portal and get a feel for the software.

2. Brandfolder: For enterprise businesses

You’ll love using Brandfolder as your DAM if you're a large organisation. 

It has a wide range of admin features on top of its asset management capabilities. For example, you can track user actions to see who has downloaded your assets and monitor frequently accessed images and videos. 

For smaller businesses, however, Brandfolder feels like buying a mansion when you only need a room. It's very expensive, has a long learning curve, and has a complex user experience. 

Check out Brandfolder alternatives for a deep look into how this DAM works. 

3. Bynder: Also for large organisations 

Like Brandfolder, Bynder is built for large businesses. Its 96 features span creative workflow management to brand templates and multi-language support. That's a lot! 

These capabilities come at a high price, which doesn't make much sense for small and growing brands. Plus, Bynder’s interface feels outdated and difficult to use. Large brands can afford the learning curve of understanding how Bynder works, but it's not a good fit for smaller businesses. 

We’ve covered more about Bynder's features and alternatives on our blog. 

4. Image Relay: For product-led enterprise businesses

Image Relay layers extensive DAM features on top of a product information system. This makes so much sense for enterprise businesses as it helps them manage thousands of assets, product listings and marketplaces. 

For smaller businesses, however, thinking about a system this robust is already exhausting, let alone using one. It's expensive too. To learn more about how enterprise companies use this DAM software, check out our Image Relay alternatives article

5. Canto: For mid-sized businesses 

Canto's platform offers advanced features such as metadata management, version control, and user permissions to ensure businesses can manage and control their digital assets effectively.

Although Canto isn't clear about its pricing on its website, third-party sites say the platform costs about $600 per month. We delved into the nuts and bolts of how this DAM works in our Canto alternatives article

Dash vs. Air: Which one should you choose for your small business? 

Let’s pit Dash against Air to see how they compare for small and growing businesses. 

Dash vs Air: Features 

To put it simply; Dash’s designed to help ecommerce teams get their visual content out into the wild, fast. Air, on the other hand, is focused on helping teams fine-tune their creative operations. 

Here’s a quick comparison table showing what you get with Dash vs Air. 

Table 1
Feature  Dash  Air 
Portals Yes ✅ No 🚫

Shopify integration

Yes ✅ Yes ✅

Hootsuite integration

Yes ✅ No 🚫
Zapier integration Yes ✅ (For all plans) Yes (Only for enterprise plan)
Version control  Yes ✅ Yes ✅
Preset download sizes Yes ✅ No 🚫
Version control Yes ✅ Yes ✅
Guest upload  Yes ✅ No 🚫 (You get ‘board guests’ on the Pro and Enterprise plans) 

Air started as a creative workflow tool for designers. That's why it has functions like timestamps, versioning and ample storage to help you manage creative collaboration efficiently. But it lacks core asset deployment features that your marketing team will need. For example, Air doesn’t have image presets which you’ll need to resize content for social media. Nor does it have public portals for sharing visuals with your external teams. 

The good news is that Dash works great for designers and marketing teams. Rather than just focusing on creative operations, Dash concentrates on making sure you can use that finished creative to actually make money. 🤑 Here’s how: 👇

  • Collect content from your creators: If you regularly work with creators and influencers, our guest upload feature will really come in handy. You can send out a unique link to each creator, ask them to upload their content, and approve the ones you want to go live in your Dash. 

 

  • Get assets ready for your marketing channels: If you’re working on new campaigns, you’ll need an easy way to deploy visuals to your channels. In Dash, download presets let you trim images and videos down to the sizes needed for your social media channels. And our Shopify integration will help you update product pages, fast. 

  • Share visuals with your partners: Need to get product images to your retailers and wholesalers? You can create public portals that let retailers access all the assets they need to sell your products. You can set permissions, add a welcome message and create a beautiful, branded space that your partners will love to work in. ✨

Here’s our Product Manager, Emily, demonstrating how you can set up portals in Dash. 

You can check out how Haws use Dash to help 100+ retailers sell watering cans all around the world

We never lock away features, so you’ll get all the Dash features we just mentioned for £79/$109 per month. Speaking of which… 

Dash vs Air: Pricing 

Air seems cheaper than Dash at first glance. But features are locked away behind more expensive tiers (including a mystery 'enterprise’ plan), and price quickly racks up when you add users — whereas Dash gives you access to all features for unlimited users across all our plans. 

Let’s explore Dash and Air’s pricing plans a bit more.

Air’s pricing and plans 

Air uses a tiered pricing system, starting with a free plan up to an enterprise plan. The higher you go, the more you pay and the more features you get access to. Also, Air’s fourth tier is locked away, so you have to contact their team to find out how much it costs. 

You get more storage with Air. But many of its amazing features and capabilities are not available on the free and Plus plans. For example, the Adobe Creative Cloud integration is only available on the Pro plan, and Figma only works for enterprise users. 

Say you upgrade to the enterprise plan only to access Adobe Creative Cloud. In that case, you’re wasting money on a ton of features you don’t need. It’s not worth the hassle. Let’s see what you get with Dash.  

Dash’s pricing and plans

Unlike most DAM’s on the market, Dash is super transparent about its pricing. For starters, we never lock anything away. So even if you’re considering the highest tier, there’s no mystery about how much it’s going to cost you. 

Speaking of tiers, Dash has four paid plans starting at £79 or $109 per month. When you subscribe to any of these plans, you get access to all of Dash’s features for unlimited users. And you'll only pay for extra storage and downloads if you need it. 

This means you won't be forced to upgrade to a higher plan just to access one feature and get saddled with several ones you don't need. You can enjoy maximum ROI from your DAM and only upgrade when it makes sense to your business. 

Not sure what plan you need? There’s a handy calculator on our pricing page to help you figure out which one to pick. 

Dash vs Air: User interface and experience 

Both Dash and Air really shine here. 

In one Air user’s words, “What I like best about Air is its undeniable beauty, both in its design and user interface. Everything is so sleek and visually appealing, making it a pleasure to use.”

Of course, we can’t expect less from a design-first software tool. 

Plus, Air doesn’t sacrifice design for functionality. It’s really easy to use. Boards and images come with clear previews that show off the beauty of your assets. On top of that, you can add the same asset to separate boards without duplicating it. This way, it’s much easier to organise your images and videos. 

Dash measures up to Air easily. This user says it best. 

“Dash has a simple yet modern interface that makes searching for files a breeze. Searching for files is speedy, with minimal loading times, so everything feels easily accessible. The tagging of files is impressive as they're automatically generated on upload, making life easier.” 

Here’s a screenshot of what a home page in Dash looks like. Reminds you of a beautiful Pinterest page, right? 😍

What’s the right DAM for you? 

When choosing a digital asset management tool, consider factors like:  

  • Your use case: Consider who will be using your new digital asset management tool. Remember: Air will help you improve your creative operations, whilst Dash will help you get your marketing campaigns out into the world, fast. 
  • Your budget: DAMs like Air and Dash are great for smaller businesses, while Bynder and Brandfolder are better suited for enterprise companies. 
  • Onboarding cycle: As a small team, you'll likely need to reap the rewards of a good DAM early. In that case, you'll need a plug-and-play DAM tool with a small learning curve that fits into your current workflows. Dash is your best choice in this case. 😇
  • Customer support: Choose a DAM with reliable customer support. The last thing you want is to spend productive hours trying to resolve an issue with your DAM because the support team is unresponsive. At Dash, our team is always on hand via in-app chat support. We aim to get back to you within 10 minutes and we’re always happy to jump on a call. 

Ultimately, the best digital asset management software for you is one that caters to your specific business needs effectively. Say you’re looking for a simple way to streamline content operations for your creative team, then Air might be the right choice. 

But if you want a powerful digital asset management platform that will simplify your content workflows and offer core DAM features at an affordable price, you can’t go wrong with Dash. 

Brands like MOO already use Dash to streamline creative operations and easily deploy assets — and they're loving it! 

Now, it's your turn. Try Dash for free and let us know how it goes. 

Faith Uzuegbu

Faith Uzuegbu is a content marketer and freelance writer for B2B SaaS and tech companies like ClassPass, PlayPlay, and Thinkific.

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Faith Uzuegbu

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