Smart Businesses Use Smart Artwork File Management Practices

Picture this: Your sales team has been getting great feedback from prospects. You know exactly what to communicate to get results. But your current brochure doesn’t have the right messaging. It desperately needs an update. “No problem,” you say. You have Adobe Creative Suite in-house. “We’ll have that ready for you right away,” you promise.

You ask your marketing associate, Sam, to pull the original InDesign file. It’s only a few strategic edits. Sam can handle it. You get a message from Sam. He’s looked everywhere, but can’t find the files.

Where’s your original artwork?

“What? Why?” you ask. Better ask Tracy. She’s been here for years. “I’m sure she knows where they stored that InDesign file,” you reassure yourself. But Tracy has bad news. “The designer owns the rights to those files,” she tells you. And when you run through your options, it only gets worse.

Every option costs time and money.

Option 1. Reach out to the original designer. Wait for them to fit you into their schedule. Pay them to do a simple task you could have done in-house by now. And then they’ll still probably want to keep the rights.

Option 2. Hire a new design firm that won’t insist on owning the rights. Take the time to get them up to speed on your brand. Then pay them to completely redesign a brochure you’ve already paid for.

Option 3. Re-design the brochure in-house. That means searching for stock images and paying for the rights again. So instead of a few quick edits, you’re re-inventing the wheel you already built.

There’s a smarter way to manage your artwork files.

We advise all brands to develop efficient file management policies and procedures. Here’s our list of best practices.

Get the artwork files. All of them. Make sure you get copies of the final InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, and any other design program files. Also make sure you get each supporting artwork file. This includes logos, photos, illustrations, infographics, etc.

Own the usage rights. Some design firms/designers hold rights to your artwork files. This practice makes your brand’s marketing less efficient and more costly. Before you work with a design firm or an independent designer, ask yourself if they’re more interested in making money than making you successful.

Get organized. Create file names and file path names that make sense. Create subfolders for each project. But keep your company branding style guide outside the subfolders and in a prominent place. Why? Because everyone should be reminded that this guide needs to be handed out to any creative about to communicate on behalf of your brand — web, collateral, advertisements, promotions, videos, etc.

Store artwork files in shared folders. We suggest putting all these assets in a public folder on your office server. Every communications and marketing employee should have access to these files. They should also be able to add new assets to your artwork files.

We want our clients to be able to move quickly and efficiently when necessary. Their success is our success. And when markets change, you need to be ready.

It’s just smart business.

Design Positive is a strategic branding and accessibility agency.