At first glance, Google Drive seems like the perfect home for your visual content. Seamless integration with your tool stack, easy to set up, and great for collaborating with your team — what’s not to love?
But the truth is using Google Drive for digital assets management (DAM) is like eating spaghetti with a spoon. It works for general file management but lacks the key features needed for storing visual content effectively. For growing brands with an ever-expanding library of visual content, Drive will hold you back.
But don’t worry—read on to discover a better way to organise, share and deploy visual content with a digital asset management solution.
What is Google Drive?
If Google Workspace is your business’s main tool stack, you already use Google Drive. It's where all your files live automatically—Google Meet recordings, Slide presentations, documents, email attachments—you name it.
Google Drive is a cloud storage system that lets you organise these files into folders and share them with team members or third-party collaborators like freelancers. You can also upload files shared from non-Google accounts—like a Microsoft Word document or Dropbox folder—so you have everything in a central place.
But that’s not all. You can also:
- Automatically save internal files to a central location: Google Drive integrates with all the other tools in your Workspace, like Google Docs and Forms. This means the data generated from these tools are automatically uploaded to your Drive.
- Synchronise files across devices: Once a file is saved to your Drive, you can access it from any internet-enabled device. You only need to sign into your Google Account to view and share saved files.
- Control file access: Google Drive gives you total control over who can view, edit and share your files. For example, you can restrict access to specific folders or set sensitive documents to “view only,’ blocking unauthorised parties from editing them.
File management is a walk in the park with Google Drive. But things quickly go downhill when you rely on this tool for your brand’s visual content.
What is digital asset management?
Digital asset management (DAM) is the process of storing, organising, and deploying visual content—such as product image files, e-fliers, infographics, videos, etc. Google Drive (and frankly, tools like Dropbox and SharePoint) aren't built for these tasks. What you need is a DAM system.
DAM software is a central, searchable library for your digital assets. It will help you seamlessly organise and share all types of visual content.
Smart DAM tools like Dash automatically add searchable tags to your images, so you can find saved assets fast. You can also search for the actual content of your images—like laptop or shirt—not just the file names.
For example, if I search for "cactus" in Planto's Dash (a brand we've been working on), all images featuring cactus' appear—even though the word isn't always part of their file names. Pretty slick, right?
Dash also lets you:
- Share visual content with external collaborators: Say you're working with a marketing agency for a brand campaign. Instead of sharing image folders from Google Drive, you can set up a Dash Portal—which is basically a public-facing extension of your Dash. The agency can browse the Portal to find all the assets they need for the campaign.
- Deploy assets fast: Dash integrates with loads of apps in your tech stack. For example, you can post infographics and videos from Dash to your social media pages via Hootsuite. Or update your Shopify store with product images directly.
- Organise your visual content: You can organise your visual assets into folders based on their content. What’s more, Dash lets you add tags and filters to your images so that you can find them fast. You also get beautiful image previews, not boring Google Drive thumbnails.
DAM vs Google Drive: Features
Now that you have a general idea of how both tools work, let's closely examine how DAM software and Google Drive compare.
Download images in different sizes and formats
No 👎. You can only download images in their original sizes and formats.
Upload and download your visual content
Yes ✅. You can save all types of files in Drive.
Search for your files easily
Yes ✅. With auto tags and filters, you can quickly find any images in Dash.
No 👎. You can only find images in Google Drive if you know their exact file names.
Share files with teammates and external collaborators
Set user permissions and control file access
Track file changes with version control
Create portals and collections for your visual content, so you can easily share them with external collaborators
Significant configuration required 😫.
You can create and share Google Drive folders containing specific images. But as you add new images to the folder and existing ones get buried under them, it becomes harder for collaborators to find the assets they need on time.
Set image usage and expiry dates
Add expiry dates to your images as you upload them. Dash stops displaying the image in your browser folder after the expiry date.
Like Dropbox, Google Drive only allows you to set expiration dates for shared files.
Preset dimensions for images and videos
Support for integrations
Connect your favourite tools to your DAM software for a more streamlined workflow. Dash, for example, works with Canva, WordPress, Shopify, Figma, and much more!
Google Drive is part of the Google Workspace, meaning it already syncs with many tools you use for running your business — such as Gmail, Google Meet and Docs.
You can also connect your Drive to external tools like Slack and Evernote.
Crop and resize images
You can only crop images in Google Photos and upload them to your Drive.
A DAM, on the other hand, allows you to crop and save images without altering the original content.
Unlimited. Dash automatically adjusts your storage capacity as you add more visual content and users.
Learn more about how storage works on Dash
Google Drive’s individual plan comes with 15 GB of free storage shared across all of your Google accounts.
You can buy more storage via a monthly or annual subscription plan.
Add metadata like custom tags to images and videos so they are easier to find
Google Drive vs DAM: Ease of use
Google Drive’s storage design is straight out of a 1960s library. It follows the folder/subfolder structure, with each folder containing one or more subfolders and each subfolder potentially containing additional subfolders or files.
For example, within a work documents folder, you might have subfolders for specific product lines, campaigns or types of documents (such as contracts, reports, and presentations). And in the Reports subfolder, you might have specific subfolders for each month's report. If this sounds chaotic, wait until you see it in action 😫.
Finding a file in this arrangement without knowing the exact file name is like walking blindfolded through a maze. As one user puts it:
“Google Drive has the worst organisation of all doc tools currently in existence. Drive is only good at making a single isolated file and sharing that file over Gmail. It lacks notions of structured and shared folders. No thought was given to sharing documents across the company/teams/services EXCEPT to make a single document sent by email.”
As a small business, you can't waste time adapting file-sharing tools to work for your visual content. That’s why we built Dash. Instead of boring Google Drive thumbnails, you get beautiful image previews on a colourful dashboard. This is what ecommerce brand, Goodrays’, Dash account looks like.
Theo, the brand’s Graphic Designer, says:
“Dash is so much more functional than any shared drive for image assets I’ve experienced in the past. Dash is easy. People know that anything in Dash they can use. If someone in the sales team is putting a deck together, all they have to do is go into Dash, and it’s all in one place. It’s not a confusing mess of folders. It’s simple and intuitive.”
Little wonder we were voted the easiest-to-use digital asset management software in the latest G2 awards!
Google Drive vs DAM: What types of companies use Drive?
Any company can use Google Drive—from marketing agencies like Loganix to enterprise companies like Nielsen.
However, if your business relies heavily on visual content, you'll soon discover that Google Drive can't handle your content management needs and is holding you back. At this point, you need to switch to a digital asset management system.
Many of our customers started with Google Drive and switched to Dash. Take Filling Pieces, for example, that struggled to collaborate with resellers using Drive.
“Before, when we were using Google Drive, there were no naming conventions. There were too many people uploading content at the same time. I decided it was time for a completely new system with a really good UX. I wanted to be able to type in the product name, see results and order by category. Google Drive is just not very visual. It’s messy.”
If this sounds like you, it's a sign your company has outgrown Drive. It's time to switch to a DAM tool to support your business's next growth phase.
Google Drive vs DAM: What teams will benefit from them?
Every team will benefit from Dash in one way or another. Let’s discuss specific use cases.
For marketing teams
Your marketing teams can share documents—like articles and brand guidelines—in Google Drive or another file-sharing tool. But for managing visual content, a DAM tool is an essential part of the tech stack.
For example, if you’re launching a new product line, you can get product images ready for your campaigns by resizing them, deploying them to Shopify and sharing them with external partners like your ad agency. You can also give journalists and PR teams access to a public portal so they can browse and download assets quickly.
And that’s not all—discover all the ways Dash helps marketing teams succeed.
For design teams
Design teams are all about visual assets. So DAM is going to be way more beneficial than Drive. For starters, Dash will help them collaborate with your marketing team. They can upload graphics for feedback. You can accept your favourites or leave feedback and request amendments. [screenshot]
They can also integrate Dash with design software in their tool stack — like Sketch and Figma — for a smoother workflow.
Read our article about DAM for Designers to get the full scoop on how creative teams use Dash.
For sales teams
Your sales team can keep sales collaterals like case studies, brochures and proposals in Google Drive. Any team member can sign into Drive, and share requested documents with a prospect or lead quickly. They can also connect your Drive to customer relationship management software like Salesforce and Copper for a more streamlined workflow.
However, when it's time to share visual content with leads and customers, a DAM tool is your best bet. For example, the sales team at Brook Taverner use Dash’s to showcase new product lines to their resellers and distributors. 🤑
Google Drive vs DAM: Pricing
Before your business execs sign off on a DAM tool or Google Drive subscription, they need to know how much it costs. So, let’s look at the numbers.
Google Drive pricing
If you’re using an individual workspace account, you get 15 gigabytes of free storage shared across all your Google accounts, including Drive. You can upgrade to a Google One plan if you need more storage space. This setup is perfect for one-person businesses and solopreneurs.
Google Workspace also has plans for growing businesses—starting at $7.20 per user every month. You get more storage space, video hosting for over 100 participants and more. Check out their pricing page for all the details.
The flexible pricing and all the other apps you get with this tool make Google Drive an excellent buy for small businesses. But remember, Drive only works for general file management. You still need a DAM tool for storing your visual assets.
There are loads of DAM tools in the market, and their pricing structures differ. Some enterprise DAM software costs as much as $50,000 a year! Yikes 😱
What do you do if you don’t have $50,000 to splurge on a DAM tool? Settle for Drive and all its visual asset management inadequacies? I hope not.
We created Dash for small and growing businesses like yours, and our pricing fits your budget. For £79 or $109 a month, you’ll get unlimited users and all features. You only pay more if you need to increase the number of assets in your Dash or your monthly downloads.
Migrating your assets from Drive to Dash
Are you stuck with Drive because moving your visual assets to a DAM tool seems cumbersome? Well, I’ve got great news for you.
You can import assets from Drive to Dash in just a few clicks. All you need to do is connect Google Drive to your Dash account, select the files and folders you want to migrate and copy to Dash.
Follow our step-by-step guide to move your digital assets to Dash.
And if you’ve got thousands of assets across multiple folders, our team will be happy to import your assets for you. Just give us a shout.
Google Drive vs digital asset management: Which tool is better for managing visual content?
In summary, Google Drive is great for general file management but doesn’t work well for organising visual content. You need a DAM tool like Dash to serve as the single source of truth for all your visual assets.
The good news is you don’t have to choose between the two tools. You can use Google Drive to manage your documents (we even have a guide that will teach you how to organise your Google Drive files). And use Dash for organising images and other digital content.
Take a look at these Dash customers who made the move from Drive. ✨
- 🍹CBD brand, Goodrays, needed a place to keep approved images. Without Dash, they risked the potential of employees using unapproved assets they found on their Google Drive, which could harm the company’s high-quality branding.
- 👟 Streetwear brand, Filling Pieces, found that Google Drive was holding them back. Nobody could find the images they needed. There were no naming conventions and the system was messy. Luckily they found Dash!
- 🧑🎨Print and design company, MOO, need a library of previous designs they can browse through for inspiration. They considered using Google Drive but soon realised tey couldn’t search or flick through images quickly. Dash suits their needs perfectly. ✨
Interested? Take Dash for a spin with a free 14-day trial.