Your brand’s next big marketing campaign is on the horizon, and your team isn’t prepared at all. You still need to ideate the campaign vision, create all the assets, finalize the designs, and get approval from the necessary parties. The sheer amount of work yet to be done is paralyzing, and your team is really feeling the pressure. And worse, you know that as soon as you’ve finished this project, it will all start again with the next one. Does this sound familiar?
This struggle is common among creative teams and agencies. Without an efficient creative workflow, each project can feel like an uphill climb. But there is good news! With some workflow management and a little help from a digital asset management (DAM) system, new campaigns and projects will feel much more achievable.
What is the creative workflow?
A creative workflow is the process and tools your team uses to complete each creative project.
It begins with a brainstorming session to identify what deliverables are needed. Then it consists of any number of additional steps, including (but not limited to) drafting, revising, submitting for approval, and, in some cases, even publishing. And throughout this workflow, assets are created — everything from photography and logos to printer-ready design files.
What goes into a creative workflow?
When starting any creative project you need to understand what you’re creating, and why. Otherwise, what’s the point? Let’s review the four common phases in a creative workflow.
This is where you’ll describe the who, what, when, where, why, and how of your creative project. During this phase you’re likely to develop a creative brief which will help get your team aligned. You’ll want to understand:
- Your project goals. This includes the pain points you’re trying to solve and the purpose your project will serve.
- Your target audience. Ensure you know who you’re speaking to and what their engagement preferences are.
- The teams involved. Depending on the scope of your project, work might span several teams. Understand who needs to be involved during each step.
- Your project timeline. Be realistic in setting your timeframe. While you can account for all of the knowns, you have to also allow time for any unknowns. And keep an eye out for scope creep. You might not be able to solve everything with this one project. It could come in phases.
- Your metrics of success. Identify what you hope to achieve with your project. This will help define your metrics of success and optimize similar projects in the future.
- Your deliverables. Describe what “done” looks like.
During the creation stage you put your content brief into action. Work through your deliverable goals, follow through on timelines, collaborate across teams, and keep all stakeholders and contributors informed on the progress.
Once the deliverables are created, it’s time for reviews and approvals. Refer back to your creative brief to reflect on your project goals and understand who needs to provide a final sign off. Once everything has been reviewed and approved, it’s ready to launch.
Launching your deliverables isn’t as easy as just hitting send. While your project is going through the creative workflow phases, marketing teams will be hard at work putting together a launch plan. The timing of the launch plan should coincide with the completion of the project deliverables and will determine where and how the new creative assets are sent out into the world.
How to establish your team's creative workflow
Every team will have a different creative workflow process — even if they follow the same phases above. When determining your individual creative workflow, think of your team and ask yourself a few questions:
- How do we generate ideas?
- What kinds of tasks must be completed for every creative project?
- What marketing technology tools are essential for our creative projects?
- Who is responsible for each task?
- Who approves all final decisions?
If you can answer these questions, then you already have a solid understanding of your team’s creative workflow. You may even be thinking of ways to make your process more efficient! One way to improve your creative workflow is with a DAM platform.
How can DAM improve your creative workflow?
Quickly find what you’re looking for.With a DAM system, all of your creative assets are housed in a centralized location. It uses metadata to organize these assets, so you can find files quickly. Say goodbye to hours of sifting through personal files, shared drives, and unorganized cloud storage tools to find the right assets for each project.
Save money and free up your budget. When creative teams can’t locate original files, precious time and money often has to be spent to repurchase or recreate them. By serving as the single source of truth for all creative assets, DAM systems can help teams use their financial resources wisely.
Easily manage revisions.As your creative team gathers feedback, how can you make sure everyone is reviewing the most recent draft? A DAM system allows you to use embed codes to automatically link to the newest version wherever the link is used.
Understand what’s working. A DAM system provides analytics on how users are interacting with each of your assets. These powerful insights can inform future asset needs and campaign decisions.
Efficiently organize file formats. A DAM system with file conversion options allows users to create the formats they need, on the fly. It eliminates the need to create, save, and manage multiple formats, and gives users access to the format they need, when they need it.
Secure, 24-7 access. DAM systems with configurable roles and permissions allow creative teams to control the assets that internal and external users can access. This secure, self-service approach eliminates the need for a gatekeeper to manage file requests, and gives global teams access to what they need during their workday — no matter what time zone!
DAM integrations for creative teams
Integrating a DAM system with other software platforms is another way to bring efficiencies to creative workflows. Sharing assets seamlessly between a DAM tool and other technology — like Adobe Creative Cloud, Slack, and Salesforce, — can allow your team to spend less time switching between apps and more time creating.
Integrations can be prebuilt, managed, or custom-built, based on your specific needs. Prebuilt and managed connections are out-of-the-box options that instantly link your tools. They can give designers access to assets without leaving their creative apps, or automatically apply metadata using artificial intelligence (AI) auto tagging. With custom connectors, the sky’s the limit. With the help of a developer or two, a DAM system with an open API allows you to build an integration that is tailored to your unique workflow.
Going with the flow
Refining your team’s creative workflow can help you gain efficiencies that allow your team to be more productive. Although every team is different, adding a DAM solution to any creative workflow can streamline efforts, save money, and even enhance the quality of work.
to learn more about how Widen’s DAM platform can improve your creative workflow process.
Note: This article was originally published in March 2019 and has been updated to remain current.