What is Artwork Management?
Artwork management is the practice of automating and simplifying the processes related to artwork development and approval.
Product packaging communicates many things including the company image, corporate value, brand, product description, and safety information. Brands are under constant pressure to bring new products to the market and stay ahead of the competition and errors can be quite costly.
Almost 60% of product recalls happen due to errors in packaging artwork or labeling. The packaging makes a direct impact on the brand's bottom line. However, brands have multiple products and as their variations, and they have to manage all the packaging projects at the same time.
Traditionally, brands have used emails and spreadsheets. However, managing artwork via emails and spreadsheets is inefficient. They do not allow proper collaboration or workflow, lack of version control leading to increased errors, more revisions, and delayed time to market.
However, dedicated artwork management software can automate workflows and make the artwork approval process more efficient.
Efficient artwork management helps to:
- Reduce time-to-market
- Reduce artwork revisions
- Provide improved collaborations and workflows
- Grant easy access to artwork resources
What is an Artwork Management Software?
An artwork management software allows businesses to eliminate the manual processes associated with artwork development.
Artwork management software is an extension of more traditional project management software platforms with dedicated tools to speed up artwork development.
It allows brands to manage multiple artwork projects, provides the tools needed for accurate proofing and feedback, and provides instant access to assets.
Who Needs an Artwork Management Software?
Artwork management software is used to define the different stages an artwork goes through before it is finally printed on the product packaging.
The internal team creates an initial request that the upper management will approve. Next, the internal team sends a keyline to the artwork studio or a design team. The studio can also be an in-house studio. Now, multiple departments will check the draft and suggest changes. The designer will revise the artwork as needed. After multiple revisions, the internal team, including the legal and QA teams approve the artwork. Finally, the artwork is sent to printers for creating proofs.
Here is how different users can leverage artwork management software.
1. Internal Teams
Internal teams include the brand's marketing team, legal team, quality control, packaging, and more. Artwork management software assists in collaboration and coordination during the artwork proofing process. The managers can assign roles and checklists to different stakeholders and set deadlines for each task.
2. External Teams
Design agencies and can use the artwork management software to send in their version of the artwork or download the current version. They will also receive feedback from internal teams. Version tracking allows design teams to quickly revert to previous iterations if needed. The printers can also use the artwork management software to show if there are any incompatibilities.
3. Users by Industries
Most Industries can use artwork management software to manage labels and packaging design projects. This includes pharmaceutical industries, as well as food, beverage, cosmetics, and more. Label management becomes crucial in pharmaceutical industries particularly during clinical trials as brands have to manufacture different variations of a medicine in a short period.
Project Management vs. Artwork Management
An artwork management software is a specialized version of project management software.
For instance, you can use any shoe to go for a hike, but a specialized hiking shoe provides certain convenience features that make hiking fun and easy.
Just like that, artwork management software is a solution dedicated to managing artwork only, even though both the products share the same DNA.
However, there are also similarities between the two platforms. Both the software platforms make collaboration easy. Both of them provide the tools needed for analytics.
Here are some features that are present in artwork management platforms but not on project management platforms:
- Digital artwork proofing: This feature allows you to check the accuracy of an artwork file.
- Optimization processes for design processes: Comes with built-in tweaks that make it easier to manage artwork.
- Asset library: Provides central storage for all the artwork assets along with version control.
Why Do You Need Artwork Management Software?
As businesses grow in size and complexity, so does the product labeling process. Managing the artwork for labels and packaging can be a formidable task without artwork management software.
Here are a few reasons why you need artwork management software:
1. Streamline Go-to-Market Strategy
For any product, the packaging makes the first impression. A Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy considers the packaging type, the target audience, the product category, competition, legal requirements, and more. The decisions you make during the packaging development will create a domino effect. Each delay in artwork development will be reflected in the manufacturing and shipping stages. The delays will increase your GTM timeline as well.
An artwork management platform allows you to create custom checklists and delegate tasks to different stakeholders to get the artwork approved as fast as possible.
2. Enable Flexible Workflows
An artwork management software allows managers to define workflows, deadlines, and checklists. These components can be different for different products. The detailed workflow gives all members of the team a bird's eye view of the process and understands their priorities better.
3. Improve Collaboration Between Teams
Since the pandemic, companies recommend their employees to work from home. According to Lenovo, 87% of the employees are ready to shift to a work-from-home model when required by their employers.
This means that people working from home will have to collaborate and work online. During the artwork development process product, design, branding, sales, legal, and marketing teams need to work together. A cloud-hosted artwork management solution provides a unified platform where all the team members can work collaboratively from their respective homes.
It eliminates the need to send emails back and forth, creating huge threads. Finding files and attachments can be a headache. People may miss out on information, causing miscommunication and subsequently affecting product launches.
With artwork management software, everyone has clarity on what they need to do and how the project is progressing.
4. Track Progress and Identify Bottlenecks
A manager should always be updated regarding the progress of the project. A manager should not have to send emails on why a project is stuck on approval, or if something is ready for production.
An artwork management tool makes project tracking simple. It shows progress as simple bar charts, where managers can see how each project is progressing. If a project is stuck at a stage, they can see what is causing the delay and address it. It allows managers to plan precisely, pinpoint bottlenecks, and meet deadlines.
5. Reduce Number of Revisions
Artwork development will never be error-free. Every artwork goes through multiple revisions before it is production-ready. Error-checking is a crucial part of artwork development. Packaging errors can be costly as they can lead to product recalls, or even legal issues.
For instance, in the case of food products, every country has its own set of regulations, and brands must abide by them. A legal team needs to review if the artwork complies with the local regulations, while the marketing team will verify the fonts, colors, and graphic elements used in the artwork.
Using emails to describe errors and inaccuracies in the artwork can be challenging. It can also be difficult for designers to understand what changes they need to make.
An artwork management software comes with digital artwork proofing tools that allow team members to verify size, color accuracy, and other parameters of the packaging. They can also annotate the artwork and comment on what needs to be changed. Such comprehensive feedback also enables designers to make the required changes faster.
6. Access Digital Assets
Losing data can be catastrophic for a brand. Even local backups are not immune. Neither the brand nor the design team is immune to accidental data loss. Hence, secured cloud storage is a crucial requirement for any artwork development project.
Moreover, without central storage, accessing files can be cumbersome. Often, one product has different packaging for different SKUs. The manager may want to assign separate designers for each SKU, who will work on the same template. Now, the manager will have to email a designer to send over the template so that they can share it with the other designer.
Furthermore, if the brand decides to make changes to the template, this entire process will repeat itself.
An artwork management software comes with cloud-based storage that solves this problem. Moreover, it also includes version tracking so that everyone can see what changes are being made and can even revert to an old version if needed. When a new version is created, everyone will get the updated file.
When to Use Artwork Management Software
Here are some of the cases where artwork management software can be used:
1. New Packaging Design
Artwork management software can be used to collaborate with the management team during the initial keyline development for an artwork. This includes setting up the requirements, deciding on the colors, typefaces, and more.
2. Regulation Updates
Artwork management software helps in creating packaging revisions. The combination of digital proofing tools and version control makes it easy to communicate the required changes.
Change in label regulations: Food, beverage, and pharmaceutical industries may often have to update the labels with changing regulations. Artwork management software keeps a record of the entire process, including all the approval points.
3. Product Rebranding
Product rebranding involves a subtle or complete overhaul of the packaging artwork. However, many parts of the product remain the same. For instance, just a couple of years back Dunkin’ Donuts rebranded itself to DUNKIN’. Brands like McDonald’s, CVS Health or Tupperware also went through a rebranding. In all these cases, packaging artwork needed extensive modifications.
4. Label Updates
Small modifications such as a change in pricing, changes in addresses, a formulation in the case of cosmetics, ingredients in the case of food products often need different internal teams to collaborate. For instance, Brands like Kellogg, Campbell Soup, and more are reformulating their products to include cleaner ingredients. This allows brands to label products as “non-GMO” or “all-natural”. These changes need modifications to existing labels and artwork.
5. Promotional Offers
Adding offers such as festive offers needs extensive proofing and collaboration. Often, brands come up with completely new packaging for their products during festive seasons. An example would be Oreo’s Music Box packaging.
Benefits of Artwork Management Software
To summarize, here are the benefits of using an artwork management software:
1. Take Control of the Workflow
Artwork management software allows project managers to take control of the workflow. It helps to manage the timeline for each project in a holistic manner.
2. Reduce Errors
It enables effective task control for cross-functional teams and helps reduce errors. This speeds up the approval process.
3. Get Complete Visibility
With artwork management software, it becomes easy to stay on top of the project's life cycle. It enables continuous improvement while allowing managers to anticipate delays.
4. Digital Proofing
An artwork management software allows all stakeholders to evaluate the accuracy and correctness of the artwork collaboratively. It allows digital proofing of high-resolution graphics. You can compare two artworks to instantly find differences, or check the size and color of the graphic elements. It also provides a complete history of changes made to the artwork.
5. A Single Repository
It allows both internal and external teams to have access to digital assets. It also lets you store any other files that are relevant to the project. Version tracking allows you to see who has made what changes and at what time. It does not require any additional IT infrastructure and stores your files in a secure cloud server.
6. Reduce Manual Tasks
An artwork management software is also easier to handle than emails and spreadsheets. Users can get started with the software with zero prior training.
Tips on Choosing the Perfect Artwork Management Software for your Team
Artwork management software can come with additional functionalities that
When choosing the right artwork management software, look for the following additional features:
1. Digital Asset Management
Digital Asset Management allows you to maintain multiple versions of files. store all project-related files, including artwork, and also see how each file has been changed by whom over time.
2. Audit Trail
An artwork management software will allow you to see a complete list of activities for a project. You can see which user did what and when.
Security features include role-based access, secured cloud storage for all your assets, and encryption for sensitive data.
Dashboards save time by giving you a holistic view of all the ongoing projects. You can see at which stage a project is or why it is stuck at a certain stage.
5. Onboarding Process
Artwork management software allows easy onboarding of external teams. You can invite them to your project and assign them roles right from the platform. For instance, if you are using an external design team, you can simply add the designers to the project using their emails. They will get an invitation link using which they can sign up and join the project.
Ready to Adopt Artwork Management Software?
Artwork management software replaces unreliable manual processes with automated workflows. It helps brands avoid endless revision cycles. It provides designers and managers with artwork proofing tools that subsequently assist with regulatory compliance. It also helps manage digital assets and provides secure access. All of these together speeds up the approval process and reduces the time to market.