Packaging artwork development teams have good reason to be nervous. They are often motivated by the rapid pace of product development to finish new packaging quickly, fearful that producing artwork too slowly will delay the product launch and cost them their jobs. Yet, producing artwork too quickly can result in packaging artwork errors such as incorrect language translations or a wrong 800 number that results in an entire product recall. These errors are also potentially career ending.
These concerns should not keep development teams up at night. Leading companies use packaging artwork management (PAM) software systems to significantly reduce or eliminate these painful blunders while ensuring that packaging artwork development keeps pace with product development.
Start with PLM
Most companies already have robust product lifecycle management (PLM) solutions that facilitate product design and development processes. However, traditional PLM systems are only now starting to treat packaging artwork development as significantly as they do product development. PLM's strengths are traditionally in project portfolio management, product data management, and the integration of authoring and design tools. Since specialized artwork development capabilities are not always a competitive strength for PLM systems, a capabilities gap exists.
This gap is often reflected in product launch delays caused by packaging artwork that is not ready. As companies speed up the product development engine, packaging artwork teams struggle to keep pace without having the same robust design and development systems in place.
Add artwork management system
PAM solutions fill the capability gap with specific functionality that firms need to support their complex development process. There are a number of ways PAM software helps companies develop packaging faster with fewer errors:
Automated workflow: Packaging artwork teams need an easy way to share digital images. This electronic routing tool facilitates the transfer of digital files. Having a system in which artwork is easily shared eliminates the need for laborious phone and email communication, and increases accountability regarding who is responsible for each stage of the project.
Artwork annotation and markup: Having a system that allows multiple designers to collaborate on a project simultaneously greatly reduces artwork review time. Artwork annotation and markup systems provide virtual spaces where users can add comments and suggestions throughout the development and/or approval stages.
Digital asset management (DAM): One of the biggest packaging artwork time wasters occurs when a designer spends time working on a digital file that is not up to date. Maintaining control of digital assets and IP rights within a centralized DAM eliminates de-synchronization of art files, minimizing the chances of this problem occurring. DAM systems also allow designers to share files both internally and externally from a centralized database.
Electronic color management: These tools eliminate the complexities of managing colors that are difficult to consistently produce and maintain by providing accurate color standards that are accessible by design groups, packaging development, quality assurance and printers.
Copy certification and translation: Errors in translation are a common cause of delays. Copy certification systems give packaging label designers an automated workflow combined with stored common phrases. These tools help reduce copy development time associated with translations.
Automatic artwork generation: In situations where packaging artwork teams are forced to produce a final product very quickly, they can turn to artwork generation tools that can produce error-free artwork through standardized label design templates and certified copy. While automatic artwork generation is not appropriate in all cases, companies can significantly reduce time and costs by automatically generating art files.
Reap the benefits
Packaging often is the most important part of a product, often more important than the product itself. The package is what the consumer first sees, touches and sometimes even smells. Packaging is what makes a consumer pick your product up off the shelf. Companies need to have systems in place that deliver perfect packaging on time, all the time.
PAM fills a significant PLM capability gap by providing specialized packaging artwork development functionality. Product development, graphic services and IT management teams should assess their packaging artwork development capabilities for balance with the rest of the organization's product development capabilities. If the graphic services department is struggling to support faster and more complex product development, the firm should consider PAM systems that enable more efficient and reliable packaging artwork development.
Stephen Birtsas is a manager at Kalypso, an innovation consulting firm. He has experience in product design, packaging development and implementation of packaging artwork management. For more information, visit www.kalypso.com.