Artwork version control is a specific area of interest for brand teams that are managing their digital assets. This includes:
So, why is version control on the mind of design and artwork managers? It may have something to do with the fact that, according to an AIB report, 43% of recalls are caused by incorrect labeling. Each product recall can cost an organization more than eight million dollars on average, so it’s important to have systems in place to get labeling right the first time. A crucial part of this is artwork version control, or managing the different versions of labels for products.
But managing versions without label and artwork mistakes can be a challenge.
While a shopper might be able to quickly scan the artwork on a product, there is a lot that goes into making that specific label an eye-catcher. There might be several versions of that artwork that each have unique differences for the specific regional market they are in, the type of store they are being sold in, or the size variation of the product. This means that one product could have tens to hundreds of label variations. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the iterations of inserts, marketing materials, and other content that needs to be created in order to sell that product globally.
No matter the number, each version of the label must match up with the master label content map. This includes:
The sheer volume of artwork versions makes managing digital assets a complicated process. In addition to the number of labels, there are many stakeholders that need access to the artwork at any given time. Whether they are providing valuable input, approving content and design, or are responsible for creating the label, there are many people and departments involved in producing artwork.
There is also a tremendous amount of information beyond what you see on the actual label that needs to be tracked. For example, some label content, such as safety information, may originate from a core datasheet. When a claim is made on the label: “Lasts for up to eight hours!” the label approver will need to reference supporting documentation to substantiate the claim.
A very complex part of version control is managing multiple changes to the same piece of artwork. The reality is, the label production process from design to distribution rarely follows a linear path.
The more common scenario is that at some point during the label production process, the number of label versions changes because:
Here some tactics and solutions to help manage artwork version:
When versions of labels need to be managed, an important tool is a global repository or digital asset management system (DAM) that houses all label assets, and is easy to access at any time from anywhere.
This repository is a “single source of truth,” allowing all the stakeholders involved in the labeling process to access digital assets that they need and track versions as they create them.
When artwork managers link their asset repository directly to their process workflows, they can save their teams lots of time spent looking for assets and variations of labels. There are many capabilities of having a DAM connected to workflow, including:
When proofing label assets, it’s essential to be able to easily compare different versions of the label—not just within a revision workflow, but also with the original artwork. With automated version compare functionality, changes will be highlighted to make reviewing that much easier, improving quality control.
If you have a DAM solution that offers automated linking, make sure to utilize it. An automated link can be created at the start of the process from the DAM to the workflow. It will then be automatically versioned when the new artwork is approved and put back into the repository. This creates a closed-loop, eliminating the possibility of the wrong version ending up in the DAM.
Typically, label content is housed in a Word document or similar application. A production artist will then cut and paste from the text from the document into the label artwork, and the word document is used in the approval process to ensure the text on the label artwork is correct.
Text information can also be stored in a database. Because it’s in a database, each individual copy element can be tracked and versioned both as part of the whole document and as a discrete element. Examples include storage instructions, manufacturing locations, size, and brand information.
The benefits of this database include:
By following some of the tips we went through, artwork managers can learn to master their artwork versioning control.