We need to talk about naming conventions. I know you don’t want to, but let’s face it – we need them. Without them you’re stuck sorting through files and projects, unsure what the name of the item is your looking for, hoping you’ll know it when you see
Knowing how important naming conventions are to your process, it can be a bit daunting to establish a naming convention. What if you forget an element that you need, and then a month later realize you have to go back and fix a bunch of names? At the same time, you can’t just throw all possible elements into a naming formula, or the names won’t be usable, and that also defeats the purpose. Determining the best naming convention for your team is an important step. Use the following best practices as a jumping off point.
Do what works for you
Because naming conventions are so important, a lot of people have strong opinions about them. As you start having these conversations and doing some research, remember that the most important thing is to build a system that works for your team. The best naming convention is one that takes into account your team’s specific needs and work characteristics. For example, if your team likes to organize work by client or department, then it can be useful to put some information about who the work is for in the name. On the other hand, if you’re an in-house creative team that works solely with the marketing department, it doesn’t make much sense to call that out all the time.
What details matter?
It’s often helpful to include something related to the project type, or other details that your team will want to see at-a-glance, like whether the work is a rush job or not. This can also be an area for flexibility and customization. While the rest of the name should be more structured, it’s also good to have some room for descriptive creativity.
Make it a date!
Knowing something about the when of a project can be incredibly useful, whether that is start date, due date, submitted date, or even what month or quarter it was worked on. It’s often useful to use the convention YYMMDD for dates, since that convention can be more easily ordered chronologically than the US standard of DDMMYY.
The Numbers don’t lie
An advanced option is to incorporate a numbering system into the names of your projects. This numbering system could incorporate dates, or it could be as simple as counting the number of projects that year, starting at 1. You could even incorporate advanced information like department or product codes as well. inMotion ignite provides Auto-Numbering to help teams assign numerical codes to project and campaign names.
Think carefully about the order of your elements in your naming convention. For example, if you follow the date convention of YYMMDD, as described above, and then put that at the beginning of your name, it is really easy to sort items chronologically. If you put the date at the end, you’ll lose some sorting ability. The question you should ask is “what purpose does each element serve?” and build the convention accordingly.
Length is an important consideration in your naming convention. For one, don’t make the name too long. You need to hit a balance of a name long enough to have meaning and distinguish the campaign or project from others, but not so long that it becomes cumbersome.
Ultimately, however you choose to build your naming convention, the secret is to actually use it. That’s why inMotion ignite includes Auto-Naming – a feature that allows teams to set up naming rules that are applied it to every project and campaign. This helps teams consistently use their naming conventions to streamline their workflow and reduce confusion.
Elise Hauser is a product and content marketer with a passion for telling brand stories. She has produced inMotionNow’s annual In-House Creative Management Report for 3 years, webinars, content sessions for major industry events reaching audiences of 1,000+, and of course, countless blog posts. When Elise isn’t writing about the marketing and creative industry at inMotionNow she is teaching economics and hanging out with her cat, Tucker, at her home in Raleigh, NC.