Label development becomes a difficult task as projects scale up.
With multiple products under development, managing multiple SKUs of every product becomes difficult. While initially, brands can get away with spreadsheets and emails to get their label management work done, eventually, such projects demand a dedicated creative collaboration tool.
Developing a label includes multiple requirements — online collaborative proofing, digital asset management, collaborating with both internal and external stakeholders, as well as meeting regulatory requirements.
Why do you need an artwork management solution?
Since you are reading this article, you may have already understood some of the limitations of using traditional tools to manage artwork development projects. Here’s a list of some of the key hindrances that slow down such a project.
Lack of vision or direction
Getting started with large-scale artwork development projects can be a gargantuan task. When a project starts, you need to enlist the stakeholders and assign them roles. You also need to let them know clearly what tasks they must perform and by when.
Product labels require thorough inspection before they can be signed off. The visuals play a crucial role. However, the legality of the content must also be inspected. The label design must be verified by multiple departments and errors must be corrected before the label goes into production.
Managing such tasks over chat groups or emails without a concrete work plan can get confusing. The team members will have no clear vision of what their roles and responsibilities are, resulting in a drop in productivity and accountability.
The slow, error-prone development process
A label development process seems simple on the surface – you make a design, you get it checked by the stakeholders, you correct all the errors and once the label is approved, you send it to the printers. However, such development processes can get mind-numbingly slow. Here are a few reasons why.
- Communication between teams gets lost amongst endless email threads and chat messages. Team members are missing out on deadlines.
- Designers do not have a clear idea of what they need to correct.
- You can’t find an important logo or a design asset that was developed a few years back and was emailed to you.
- You are failing to meet all the regulatory requirements. Every time you are missing out on some minor detail.
- The colors and typefaces are not coming out as expected after printing and you are having to revise the colors and other visual elements all over again.
The feedback process is stuck in a loop
If your design team is struggling to get the label just right even after multiple iterations of revision, then it’s a case of bad communication.
The design team needs clear and precise communication on what they need to do. You also need to talk about their lingo. While you do not need to become a designer, understanding color codes, typefaces, transparency, and other terms can help the management communicate better with designers.
Getting signatures is challenging
Do you need to keep a record of the label development process for regulatory requirements? Do you need the management to provide signatures to approve the label? Getting digital signatures on time can be challenging if one is not familiar with the tools.
Cost savings end up costing more
While your makeshift label development workflow is saving you money, it is costing you time. Projects are getting delayed and are subsequently affecting product launches. You are losing out on revenue to your competitors because of the delays.
If you can relate to any of the above problems, then you must get an artwork or label management solution.
Selecting your perfect solution
Before we get started, you need to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for artwork management. Once you understand your requirements, you can look for the right solution for your projects. Here's a five-step guide to finding one that fits your needs.
1. Understand your requirements
What are your present challenges? Are you having trouble collaborating with others? Is the feedback process stuck in an endless loop? Are you constantly failing to meet regulatory requirements?
The first step is to make a list of your pain points. Look at your previous projects and try to understand where you are failing every time. Making the list above will help you understand the common pitfalls in label development projects and help you identify the features you would need from your artwork management solution. However, there are some essential features that you should never skip.
2. Research online
Once you know your weaknesses, you can address them. Multiple websites list and rank business software solutions. You can head over to G2, Capterra, CrozDesk, TrustRadius, and other similar websites to understand what solutions are available. You can look at their pros and cons, and pricing, and even have a look at the reviews.
It is wise to not directly go for the ones with the highest rating. Instead, sift through the reviews and try to understand which software solutions have helped others with your problems.
3. Directly talk to others in the industry
When you go through the reviews of the software solutions, you will also find social media profiles of the reviewers. You can directly reach out to them, or even send them an email. Social proof is one of the best ways to understand if a software solution is right for you. You can also talk to others you know outside of work to shortlist software solutions for artwork management.
4. Reach out to software vendors
Reach out to artwork management and label development software vendors. You can contact the sales teams directly and let them know your troubles (as in step 1). Ask them if you can try out their solution without any commitment to continue after the trial period.
5. Try out different solutions
Try out a few different solutions before you commit to one. Ensure that the solution you are choosing is something everyone else at the company is comfortable with. Let others vote before you finalize the decision.
Features you should never compromise with
Here are some of the essential features that you should never skip. Even if you don’t need these at present, they will become necessary as your production scales up. Moreover, regulations change all the time and some of these features will help you keep up with ever-changing regulations.
Collaborative online proofing
A core feature of any artwork management solution is collaborative online proofing. This feature allows managers to assign checklists and deadlines to reviewers when they are proofing an artwork file.
In collaborative online proofing, the reviewers can onboard the label development project and access their to-do list along with the artwork file. Every reviewer can access a set of proofing tools right in their browser and review the document.
For example, Artwork Flow provides tools like a color extractor, font finder, spell and grammar checker, a virtual ruler, difference finder, and a whole lot more. It also allows the reviewer to directly approve or reject items from the checklist, and even annotate the design file directly.
Once all reviewers are done with the proofing, the collated feedback is then automatically forwarded to the design team. This reduces the scope of human errors, as well as the number of iterations needed to get a design right.
Automated workflows with multi-stage approvals
Workflow management is a crucial element of label development solutions. Often label development projects require complex multi-stage approvals. For example, the marketing and QA team first signs off a design. Then the legal team checks for regulatory issues and signs of the design. Finally, the print vendors check the design.
If there are corrections to be made at any stage, the stakeholders can use the online proofing tools to suggest the changes to the design team.
Tools to stay compliant
Artwork management tools such as Artwork Flow provide dedicated tools that allow you to stay compliant. It comes with AI-assisted scanners that check design files for any regulatory issues.
It also comes with pre-made checklists of regulations by the FDA and FSSAI so that you do not need to go through pages of text to figure out where you are going wrong.
Secured content sharing
Artwork management solutions come with attached cloud storage for every project. You can store the design files and other digital assets there and share them securely with the project members only. You no longer need to go through emails searching for a particular attachment.
Artwork Flow supports role-based access. This allows the design team to modify the design files, while the reviewers can add comments for feedback. All versions of the design file are also preserved, allowing designers to revert to any old file when needed.
Traceable and transparent workflows
Features like audit trail and version control add traceability and accountability to the workflow. Artwork Flow’s audit trail keeps a log of every action in a project, allowing you to address human errors.
Do you think you will benefit from any of the features listed above? Then give Artwork Flow a try. Click here to get a demo.