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Creative Operations
September 30, 2021
July 21, 2023

Creative Director's Guide to Successful Packaging Artwork Management

Contributing Author

Creative Director's Guide to Successful Packaging Artwork Management

September 30, 2021
July 21, 2023
Contributing Author


No matter what business you are in – be it food and beverage, personal care, pharmaceuticals, or anything else, as a creative director or a design head, you are under constant pressure to get your products released to the market. Creating what is on the packaging is just as challenging as creating what is inside it. Developing the packaging artwork is a creative as well as a collaborative process, often spearheaded by the creative director or design head. 

Challenges of a Creative Director Role

While key responsibilities of creative directors and design heads need to brainstorm innovative ideas and shape brand standards, they also need to oversee and steer teams of creatives, collaborate with other departments, evaluate, revise, and create creative content. They need to assess and approve the packaging design before it gets to the market, which puts them in a position of great responsibility. Without proper brand asset management tools, this can become chaotic and frustrating.

What is Artwork Management?

Depending on which industry you are in, artwork for your product packaging can be heavily regulated. For example, regulations for scented candles packaging and pharmaceuticals are extensively different. Packaging errors can have grave implications depending on how heavily the industry is regulated. Therefore, organizations often have a fool-proof, tightly regulated workflow in place to develop artwork. However, the error control mechanisms and efficiency do not always go hand in hand. 

This is where artwork management comes into play. Artwork management is simply a software platform or a SaaS which brings teams together for artwork development, revision, and approval. It is a set of tools that simplifies communication, collaboration, feedback gathering, and artwork approval while keeping the entire workflow error-free. They also help with securely storing digital assets and keeping track of changes. 

Why Do You Need Artwork Management?

Packaging design is becoming increasingly complex. Soft drink bottles have personalized names, intelligent packaging is moving forward at great speeds, and the regulatory landscape is getting trickier each day. As someone who oversees and approves packaging artwork, staying on top of everything becomes challenging. Here are some of the key challenges.

1. Collaborating with multiple stakeholders

Developing the packaging artwork requires multiple departments to pitch in. The marketing department, the quality control, the legal team, and more. You also need to collaborate with external agencies like the supply chain partners, printers, and design teams. Without a unified communications channel, keeping everyone on the same page becomes chaotic.

2. Managing many products

Brands usually have multiple products in the pipeline, each product may have multiple SKUs. The artwork for each of them is different. Assessing and approving multiple projects throughout their lifecycle can be a headache.

3. Handling revision after revision

Without proper feedback, the design team will not have an idea of what the brand wants. Improper feedback gives rise to endless revision cycles with no real progress. This delays the approval process and increases the time to market. 

4. Managing digital assets

How do you store and manage your digital assets and confidential documents? Do you still rely on emails and cloud storage to share designs with others? Is there any plan for accidental data loss? Managing digital assets vary extensively across brands, and even internal departments, without any fixed standards, which is a recipe for data loss. 

5. Calculating risks and delaying release dates

When every design project is a series of disconnected processes, there will be slowdowns. Project managers now must incorporate these delays into the already inefficient workflow, leading to delayed sign-offs. As a creative director, handling these tackling these delays and trying to meet deadlines can be frustrating. 

6. General lack of control and poor visibility

With the lack of cohesion between the different steps of the artwork development process, understanding the progress becomes difficult. Without end-to-end visibility, you can spot bottlenecks, resolve issues, and improve the process. 

How Artwork Management Helps?

An artwork management platform comes with all the tools a brand needs to develop and manage artworks. It is a unified end-to-end solution that can transform the chaotic process into an automated, configurable, integrated workflow designed just for managing artwork.

1. Simplifying your process

Project managers can create workflows and assign to-do lists with deadlines to stakeholders. With a well-defined schedule, creative directors and design heads have a better understanding of 

  • The progress of a project
  • What different teams are working on and how they are performing
  • Potential bottlenecks and delays

This simplifies approvals, makes regulatory compliance less tricky, and increases consistency while reducing complexity.

how artwork management helps to simplify process

2. Effortless management of multiple projects

Dashboard functionalities allow management to get a holistic view of multiple projects simultaneously. Progress and efficiency of projects can be compared using metrics. This allows you to quickly sift through multiple projects and sign them off effortlessly. 

How Artwork Management Helps To Manage Multiple Projects

3. Meet regulatory compliances without hiccups

Unlike generic project management tools, artwork management software is built keeping in mind the packaging development needs of various industries. 

  • Every stakeholder gets their checklist – a list of what they need to do and by when. Templates for checklists simplify task distribution too. 
  • Proofing tools make it easy to look for errors and meet regulatory compliances
  • Annotation tools make it easy to comment on artworks and give comprehensive feedback to designers. 

4. Bring in accountability

Audit trails allow the management to see exactly who made what changes and when. This feature adds transparency to the workflow, helps address bottlenecks, and even improves productivity. 

5. Collaborate seamlessly

With an artwork management platform, everyone is on the same page. There are no shared spreadsheets, long email threads with lost messages, or a mess of files on your cloud storage. Every stakeholder can onboard the platform with a simple email invite. The integrated proofing tools with annotation and comments enable communication between the collaborators. 

6. Worry-free storage of digital assets

Every project comes with an automatically managed file repository. You do not have to separately manage files for each product or SKU. With file versioning, it becomes easier to track changes over the development process and even revert to older versions if needed.

How Artwork Management Helps For Digital Storage

With version control, it is easier to eliminate clutter like this. 

7. Work from anywhere

Artwork management platforms are available as Software-as-a-Service. So, as long as you have internet connectivity, you can get all your work done right from the browser. You can focus more on the artwork development and less on the tools. There is no need to install annoying upgrades, you do not have to buy servers or support hardware. 

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