Creative operations is the emerging discipline that's helping creative teams be more effective. Creative operations (sometimes called "creative ops") is a fast-growing role that supports the work of creative professionals. It's an idea that has taken hold mostly in the world of in-house creative agencies, but which we believe has application to any creative team, including traditional external agencies.
What’s new in creative operations?
With new tools, technologies, and strategies, creative operations have been experiencing a massive change over the last couple of years.
Increased digitization in creative operations
In 2023, organizations will focus on improving the efficiency and returns on investment of their digital decisions. This will lead to an emphasis on consolidating platforms, breaking down silos, creative automation, and content performance. This will result in the elimination of legacy systems, new ways to automate workflows, diversifying the content creator base, and doubling down on analytics. These changes will lead to improved efficiency and effectiveness in digital operations.
Increased innovation due to a tougher market
Many organizations are resistant to change in how they create, manage, and distribute content. However, due to factors such as hiring freezes, budget constraints, and increased pressure to generate returns, organizations may need to adapt to new ways of operating in 2023. More brands will start using in-house experts in short-form video instead of paying for external content, as a cost-effective and creative solution. To manage the content, brands are relying on digital asset management solutions.
Increased content reuse
Content reuse has been a goal for many organizations for some time, but despite a desire to improve, duplicate and unused content still exist. Off late, it has become a necessity for many teams to start implementing content reuse practices. This refers to creating content as building blocks that can be adapted to fit different markets, channels, or audiences, or using the same content for different purposes across channels and markets. This can increase the mindshare of the content within the organization.
Changes in the digital marketing and advertising landscape
Google's removal of third-party cookie tracking and the projected slowdown in ad spend is causing challenges for advertisers. TikTok is gaining popularity and is becoming a platform to watch this year, with a focus on creativity over advertising and a desire for brands to start paying for sponsored content. Google's removal of third-party tracking will force brands to focus on generating first-party data and A/B testing to target customers. The emphasis on content quality and ad creativity will become even more important as advertisers need to ensure their messaging resonates with buyers.
Investing in meaningful influencer collaborations
Influencer marketing remains a prime investment in 2023 and is one of the top trends that marketers plan to invest in. However, there is a growing concern about the authenticity of influencers, and users are becoming more critical of the relationship between brands and influencers. This has resulted in many young people unfollowing influencers during the pandemic.
Brands may need to rethink their relationship with influencers by appointing long-term brand ambassadors who are trusted by their target audience, allowing for more creative and effective campaigns. This can also lead to building lasting relationships between the brand and influencer and maintaining trust with the audience.
Why are creative operations so important?
Having a well-structured creative operations framework can greatly benefit marketing teams of any size by providing numerous advantages. Here are eight key benefits that creative ops can bring to a company:
One of the major challenges faced by creative teams is process inefficiencies. By optimizing each person and process and closing technology gaps, creative ops can help teams work faster and more efficiently.
In the creative industry, great work is often lost due to disparate platforms. By centralizing the work environment, teams can collaborate better and ensure everyone is on the same page, regardless of location or time zone, which is especially important for remote-first teams.
The best part of implementing a creative ops framework is that it can be customized to each team member's preferences and work style, within an overarching workflow that solidifies standardization.
With a centralized intake process and standardized form, creative teams have access to all relevant information needed to start a project and meet deadlines, reducing last-minute requests and incomplete intake forms.
Compliance is critical, especially in industries such as finance and healthcare. Creative operations provide additional oversight and structure to ensure compliance and brand standards are met, allowing creative teams to focus on producing quality work every time.
By providing reporting functionality and operational data, creative ops can enhance the creative process and help teams make informed decisions. This data can also be used to improve prioritization, quantify resourcing needs, and communicate the team's value to leadership.
Inconsistencies in workflows can lead to administrative burnout. By leveraging a single creative work platform, teams can streamline their intake and assignment process, creating consistency and improving speed to market.
By having access to the necessary data, creative ops can help teams accurately forecast how much money, time, and resources will be needed to complete a project. This makes it easier to align projects with statements of work and ensure effective resource planning.
What's holding up the workflow?
Creative operation roles can face a variety of challenges. These include the lack of tools for proper design Collaboration software, dedicated digital asset management solutions, and more. Some of the challenges that creative operations managers face include:
- Balancing creativity and efficiency: Creative operations managers must strike a balance between fostering creativity and ensuring that projects are delivered on time and within budget. This can be difficult as the creative process can be unpredictable and time-consuming.
- Managing resources: Creative operations managers are responsible for managing resources such as personnel, budgets, and schedules. This can be challenging as they need to ensure that all resources are being used effectively and efficiently, while also considering factors such as burnout and staff morale.
- Ensuring project quality: Creative operations managers must ensure that the quality of creative work produced by the team meets or exceeds expectations. This requires a deep understanding of the creative process and the ability to provide constructive feedback and guidance to team members.
- Aligning with business goals: Creative projects need to align with overall business objectives, and creative operations managers must coordinate with other departments such as marketing, sales, and product development to ensure that this is the case.
- Managing risk: Creative operations managers must identify and mitigate risks to the successful completion of projects, such as resource constraints or project scope creep. They must also be prepared to respond to unexpected events, such as delays or budget overruns.
- Maintaining consistency: Creative operations managers must ensure that projects are consistent with the organization's brand and visual identity. This can be challenging when managing multiple projects with different creative styles and objectives.
- Adapting to change: The creative industry is constantly evolving, and creative operations managers must be flexible and adaptable in response to new technologies, market trends, and changing business needs.
These are some of the challenges that creative operations managers may face in their roles. Effective creative operations require a combination of strong project management skills, a deep understanding of the creative process, and the ability to lead and motivate a team.
Why do creative operations need dedicated tools?
Brands implementing creative operations workflow require dedicated creative collaboration software. Software solutions like artwork management systems are crucial tools for creative operations in brands. Here are some of the reasons why creative operations can get a boost from such software solutions.
Centralized asset management
Brand asset management software provides a single, centralized repository for all creative assets, making it effortless to access and manage artworks, designs, and brand elements in one place.
Brand asset management software guarantees version control over creative assets, ensuring that the latest and most accurate version of an artwork is consistently used across all marketing materials. Version control also allows brands to quickly revert to an older version of the artwork during the development process.
With brand asset management software providing solutions for workflow automation, multiple team members can access, review, and provide feedback on artwork in real time, dramatically improving creative collaboration and communication between teams.
By automating manual processes such as approvals and proofing, brand asset management software significantly increases the efficiency of creative teams. Creative teams can not only be productive but can also be accountable because of transparent creative workflows.
Compliance and brand consistency
Brand asset management software ensures all marketing materials adhere to brand guidelines, making it simple for brands to maintain a consistent look and feel across all marketing communications. This also simplifies artwork reuse.
Creative operations are essential for modern brands as they support the creation, management, and distribution of creative content, such as designs, illustrations, and brand elements, consistently and efficiently. Brand asset management software is the cornerstone of efficient creative operations. With centralized asset management, version control, streamlined collaboration, increased efficiency, and guaranteed brand consistency, this software empowers creative teams to work at their full potential, resulting in better communication and a consistent brand image across all marketing materials. If you'd like to see Artwork Flow's brand asset management software in action for your business, get started with a free 7-day trial today or book a quick demo with our experts.