Developing packaging artwork requires speed, precision, and transparency. Packaging artwork not only captures the attention of end users but also often contains critical safety information. As enterprises scale up their business, speed-to-market becomes an indispensable part of staying competitive. Slow label development or labeling errors can seriously damage a product launch and its subsequent success in the market.
Product labeling can get quite overwhelming as projects scale up which makes human errors inevitable. Without a proper means to prevent or correct such errors, project timelines can become unpredictable.
Why your artwork development process is slow
1. Development taking place in silos.
Packaging development generally takes place in three stages:
- An initial strategic thinking process.
- The designing process.
- The final production process.
In the strategic thinking process, the brand and its marketing team come up with a keyline design of the artwork. In the next stage, the design is forwarded to an external design agency to develop the artwork and then update it based on the brand’s feedback. Finally, the artwork is sent to the printers for production.
In most cases, these steps happen separately and not as a single integrated process. The marketing team may send the draft to the design team. The design team can get delayed because of low-quality feedback. Often, small delays can add up to create unnecessarily extended timelines.
Such delays are inevitable when teams work in silos. If a team is not aware of the downstream tasks and the timeline associated with them, they would not work with the sense of urgency that is usually required in such projects.
2. Use of unstructured workflows
Enterprises put a lot of importance on the reliability of processes. However, the “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” approach can severely slow them down. While manual packaging development processes are functional, they are not competitive.
Manual project management processes depend on the collaborative functionality of a plethora of tools — spreadsheets, instant messaging services, email inboxes, multiple document viewing programs, and more. The process cannot be standardized, making auditing challenging.
Without a standardized and integrated workflow, it is not surprising for minor labeling errors to get overlooked. A minor labeling error can become a major problem for a brand.
3. No single source of truth
Label development projects start with inputs from different stakeholders. These inputs continue to change as the project progresses. When the project is still underway, bringing together different inputs can become challenging. Often such inputs can be contradictory — the marketing team may suggest a certain text and the legal team may suggest a different one.
Without a single source of truth, communication across departments can suffer from inaccuracy, misinterpretation, or omission. Getting a crucial asset for the design team or tracking different versions of the project also becomes a challenge. Sometimes, assets required for a project can be spread across different places. Getting them at one place for the design team can be a tedious task.
4. No foresight on delays or bottlenecks
Packaging and label design are mission-critical elements of any product launch. Like most business processes, these too are subject to delays and bottlenecks. However, with legacy processes, there is no way to predict and resolve these.
Brands generally use standard office and project management software suites for artwork management. These often do not meet the complex regulatory requirements of their industries.
These tools are also managed by an already overworked IT department, leading to outdated software. Updating one software may need the team to update a bunch of other dependencies, all of which will require training the staff all over again.
All this downtime ends up having a significant impact on the speed to market.
7 ways in which you can speed up your artwork development
Packaging and labeling should be considered as a part of the manufacturing process. Dedicated label management and artwork proofing software rectify and optimize all the issues that plague legacy systems. Here are seven ways in which you can use artwork management tools to speed up the artwork development process.
1. Improve collaboration
Collaboration ensures consistent communication and streamlines workflows with multiple stakeholders. With an artwork management service, you can onboard both internal and external stakeholders with an email invite. Designers and stakeholders can see all the design files and brand collateral in the project folder. Everything is hosted in the cloud and so everyone stays updated.
2. Integrated workflow management tools
Artwork management platforms such as Artwork Flow come with integrated workflow management tools. As a manager or a project lead, you can assign roles and deadlines to stakeholders when you define a project. You can also assign checklists to each project member, so everyone has a clear idea of what they need to do. This way, with clear directions and well-defined timeframes, you can avoid unwanted delays.
With Artwork Flow, you get some nifty features like:
- Automated workflow creation.
- Complete customizability of workflows depending on project type.
- Reusable, user-defined workflows across multiple projects.
- Easy collaboration with external design agencies and print vendors.
3. Ensure compliance
Food, beverages, and pharmaceutical industries must abide by strict labeling rules set up by regulatory authorities. Organizations like FDA and NABCA in the US, and FSSAI in India have extensive regulations in place to enforce public safety and prevent substance abuse.
Regulatory compliance makes already overwhelming label development projects even more difficult to manage. Artwork management and label development services can act as labeling regulation compliance software to simplify regulatory compliance.
Here is how they help.
- You get preset to-do lists to ensure you meet all the regulatory requirements.
- You can modify these lists, divide them across reviewers, save these lists as templates, and more.
- Reviewers get access to the whole suite of proofing tools right in their web browser. This includes the ability to compare design files, measure the size of visual elements, check for typos, verify colors using their Pantone, CMYK, or RGB codes, and more.
- Reviewers can comment on each item on the list, accept or reject a design, and annotate the design file.
- Designers get instant feedback on what they need to modify. This drastically reduces the number of revisions, ensuring a faster go-to-market.
Artwork management services also simplify record-keeping with the help of e-signatures. One can ask for e-signatures right from the portal.
4. Get full visibility on project status
Brands have multiple artwork development projects running in parallel. Managers get complete visibility of how each project is progressing right from the dashboard. At a glance, one can see which projects are delayed, or which projects are experiencing slowdowns. Managers can also see the reason for the slowdown and directly contact the project member responsible for the delay.
5. Ensure accountability with audit trails
It’s never possible to completely eliminate human errors. Artwork management platforms, however, drastically reduce human errors, and even if one happens, it provides the tools to track it and address it, ensuring that it never happens again.
With audit trails, you can retrace your steps and see who was responsible for the error. Did a reviewer mistakenly approve an artwork? Did the QA team miss out on a minor detail? The audit trail makes the artwork development process more transparent and brings in accountability.
6. Single source of truth with centrally managed assets
Forget scrolling through endless email threads to find that design file you sent a colleague. Artwork management platforms come with secure cloud-hosted storage. You get:
- A single source of truth for all your project assets and brand collaterals.
- Secure, role-based access to the assets.
- Version control for every design file on the project.
- Integration with design tools such as Adobe Illustrator.
7. Speed up timelines with minimal errors
With automated workflows and an organized feedback system, artwork management platforms help you drastically reduce time to market. Artwork management platforms serve as creative collaboration tools that clean up the label development workflow.
Here is what the workflow looks like when you use such services.
- The brand creates a keyline design and gets it approved internally.
- The project manager onboards a design agency and shares the required design assets on the attached cloud storage. They also onboard other stakeholders such as marketing, legal, and QA teams. Every member gets their checklist and deadline when they onboard the project.
- Designers can work using the assets directly from their designing software and upload them directly to the artwork management platforms.
- Stakeholders review the artwork based on their checklists and either approve or reject it. Stakeholders can also include print vendors who can comment on the feasibility of production.
- The designers receive the feedback and make the necessary changes.
- Steps 4 and 5 continue till the design is perfected and is then moved to production.
With an artwork management tool, the number of iterations needed to get the perfect design is considerably reduced thanks to effective collaboration tools. Projects for multiple SKUs of a product can run in parallel.
Label design projects involve input from multiple stakeholders. Dedicated project management solutions are indispensable when speed-to-market is a mission-critical requirement. An artwork management solution enables different teams to work in perfect harmony. To see how Artwork Flow can help you, head over to this link.