The Problem: Lack of naming standards created daily issues with version control in everything from assets to client deliverables, which created an additional layer for full-time vigilance in quality control and added obstacles in locating needed media.
The Solution: Creating a strict naming convention that adhered to the best practices of naming standards; and provide users with easily accessible documentation to help adoption.
The Details: Some time after joining the Blonde+Co agency in 2013, I moved on to tackle one of the most pervasive issues plaguing modern digital file-based workflows: lack of naming conventions.
Like in many other institutions dealing with digital file deliverables, issues and confusion were rampant in the usage of Blonde+Co’s asset repository. Everything from a collection of inconsistently named exports that caused confusion when delivering to client (e.g. “ClientName_Campaign_V9”, “ClientName_Campaign_Version8Final”); to difficulty locating a project because the client’s naming reference differed from what was used internally (e.g. Client’s “Ultra Sun Protection Lotion.mov” vs Agency’s “Sunblocking Creamy Substance.mov”); to a duplicated client asset causing the wrong logo version to be used (e.g. ClientNameLogo_New.PNG vs ClientNameLogo_New Copy.PNG).
I sat down with all stakeholders of the post-production pipeline–Editors, VFX Artists, and all the way to the Client Managers. Through multiple sessions, I began to develop a naming convention which followed best naming standards, and tried to address the most common pitfalls that each stakeholder ran into when dealing with digital filenames.
This culminated in the development of the Blonde+Co Naming Convention.
Every staff member and freelancer involved in post-production was then trained in the usage of the naming convention. The guidelines were easily accessible through the agency’s website subdomain hosting a google doc, and a stylized summary of the rules set up as a wallpaper in every workstation in the agency. This helped the naming convention be quickly adopted and become an integral part of the workflow.
The Results: Many issues of deliverable confusion and quality control in digital file workflows can be easily resolved with a strict naming convention; and this was the case at Blonde+Co.
Since there was a specific number attached to projects (which was replicated in the agency’s project management platform), the client’s marketing team could change the name of a campaign or product halfway through the post-production process and it would not cause further confusion. The account managers simply needed to add any alternative names into the project management platform, and the project number would essentially function as an index tool.
Thanks to the benefits of the naming convention, there was never again confusion on which client asset was the correct one to use when exporting final outputs, and what deliverable was the latest.