Buy the Right Asset Tag

I love stickers.

Asset tags are great for production gear, or organizing office gear. Between shipping out drives, going on shoots, or just generally keeping an inventory of what gear you own, it’s a really good idea to have these things. You can use the barcodes to scan, but that’s something I don’t think I’ll use for a while. I do use the numbering system in my own Filemaker database, but the most important thing for me is identifying the gear as being mine, and including a contact number if found.

If you’re a huge nerd, like me, you already have plenty of databases for your small business.

I bought a set of 100 vinyl asset tags from MyAssetTag.com about a year ago. When I got them, I figured the Vinyl version would be sturdy enough for my production life. Apparently I was very, very wrong—the image below shows you the wear and tear that my Canon 70-200mm has gone through. The vinyl tag is unreadable, and has since been pulled off.

This asset tag looks more like a captcha image—no bots will be calling me!

If you’re ever in the market to label your production gear, make sure you get the beefier versions of these tags. They’re fantastic on hard drives and computer parts, but anything you take out in the field will render the tag useless within months. Unfortunately, the metallic versions can cost about $300 for 100 stickers. It gets pretty pricey.

All those OWC and Lacie rugged drives look the same. Asset tags help you to safely mingle gear with others!
All those OWC and Lacie rugged drives look the same. Asset tags help you to safely mingle gear with others!

Placement is another important thing to think about for the longevity of the tag. Seems pretty boring, but don’t waste an asset tag by putting it in the wrong place like I did. In the photo above, you can see I’ve got a tag on a hard drive—as well as a Scott Pilgrim sticker!—and another tag on my laptop. The sticker on the hard drive is fine, and to this day shows almost no wear. The sticker on my laptop eventually wore off, so I put a new one on the lid. My mistake was placing a tag right where my palm would be, so that definitely didn’t help. Like the sticker that was on my 70-200mm lens, this one couldn’t stand up to constant use.

Even with a new placement, you can see that this tag is starting to show a lot of wear. You can also see that I do really like stickers.
Even with a new placement, you can see that this tag is starting to show a lot of wear. You can also see that I do really like stickers.

If you don’t go for the asset tags, find another way to label your gear. Rental houses tend to use a specific color of tape that they wrap around gear (stands, cables, light yokes, etc). Whatever you do, use something that’s easily identifiable (bright colors), and make sure you’re consistent. You should already have a database or document of all the serial numbers for your gear, but when you’re wrapping on set after a long day, the last thing you want to do is check serial numbers to see whose 5D is whose.