Building Naming Conventions: Best Practices and 6 Tips

We need to talk about building naming conventions. I know you do not want to, but let us face it – we need them. Without them, we are stuck sorting through files and projects, unsure what the names of the items are. When you do not know what you are looking for, your only option is to keep searching for it in the dark.

Recommended reading: The Importance of Naming Conventions, File Naming Conventions: What Is the Secret to Successful Ones?, Handbook on Guidelines for Naming of Buildings and Estates

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 require, and then a month later realize you must go back and fix a bunch of names? At the same time, you cannot just throw all elements into a naming formula, or the names will not be usable, and that also defeats the purpose. Determining the best naming convention for your team is a major step. Use the following best practices as a jumping off point.

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1. Do What Works for You

Because building naming conventions is so important, a lot of people have strong opinions about how to go about doing so. 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 considers your team’s specific needs and work characteristics. For example, if your team likes to organize work for a client or department, then it can be useful to put some information about whom the work is for in the name. On the other hand, if you are an in-house creative team that works solely with the marketing department, it does not make much sense to call that out all the time.

2. What Details Matter

It is 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 is also good to have some room for descriptive creativity.

3. Make It a Date

Knowing something about the when of a project can be incredibly useful, whether that is the start date, due date, submitted date, or even what month or quarter it was worked on. It is regularly useful to use the convention YYMMDD for dates since that convention can be more easily ordered chronologically than the US standard of DDMMYY.

4. Numbers Do Not 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. Lytho Workflow provides Auto-Numbering to help teams assign numerical codes to project and campaign names.

5. Order Matters in Building Naming Conventions

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 easy to sort items chronologically. If you put the date at the end, you will lose some sorting ability. The question you should ask is “what purpose does each element serve?” and build the convention accordingly.

6. Find Your Balance

Length is an important consideration in your naming convention. For one, do not 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.

However, if you choose to build your naming convention, the secret is to use it. That is why Lytho Workflow includes Auto-Naming – a feature that allows teams to set up naming rules that are applied to every project and campaign. This helps teams consistently use their naming conventions to streamline their workflow and reduce confusion.

Do you want to give yourself and your creative team more room for creative stimulation by automating the boring stuff? Lytho helps you streamline workflows and harmonize all brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a demo and learning how our creative solutions can boost the effectiveness of your creative projects. We look forward to speaking with you!