Multiple channels, more and more proofing
Anybody in the consumer goods or consumer electronics industry will tell you: Those who’s job it is to proof content and graphics on packaging, will see more and more of it in the future. As industries trend towards more precise customer segmentation, as demand for more and more personalization in products creates shorter and shorter runs with more packaging variations on any given product, there will be more proofing to do.
Who’s in charge?
Trouble is, most people who do packaging proofing are busy doing other stuff too: Graphic artists, Product Managers, Marketing people, Translators and Technical specialists, they are all busy doing other stuff, namely their job. No wonder the proofing process, when not strictly regimented, can seem a little bit chaotic: everyone has a different take on how it should run.
So, some advice: First of all take stock of where you are: Measure things like how many proofs did it take to get the packaging right? How many mistakes had to be corrected? How long did the process take from beginning to end. Once you have your first answers on these questions, immediately set out to improve performance on these metrics.
The person in charge of the proofing process from A to Z (let’s hope there is one!) has to 1. Map out the entire process and 2. Educate all involved on how it has to run. 3. Make it clear that the process needs to be cleaned up and sped up.
Time for proofing
The time constraint is very important. There is always a time constraint on packaging. There are sales expectations, shipping schedules, customer expectations and seasonality windows always just around the corner. Every person in the team has to realize that as soon as their turn comes around, they need to drop what they are doing and proof. As often as not, proofing happens in the urgent and important quadrant of the work. If a person can’t do it at that specific time, they need a back up. Everyone needs to have a back up. The fact is, getting the product out the door is always top priority.
Granulize when proofing
Proof with checklists and proof with a ”siloed” approach. If you are proofing content, break it down and check items completely separately: grammar, spelling, capitalization (beware the random capitalization virus), titles, footnotes (not my favourites to proof), Legalese, and disclaimers. You’ll find things. It’s probably one of the only times you’ll find that it is an advantage to be very narrow-minded in what you do.
Packaging with multiple languages can be particularly tricky. Don’t even think about proofing the secondary languages before you finalize the primary language. Even then, you’ll find you’ll have to recheck the secondary languages when someone down near the end of the process needs to do a change on the primary language. Be vigilant.
When it comes to communication methods, email, though often used, is not ideal. Sending around marked up .pdfs can sometimes cause confusion if there were step backs in the process or if someone forgets to CC someone in the group.
It would be worthwhile to look into collaborative proofing software to ease the process: Some offer time stamping on revisions to create audit trails, others offer colour accuracy checking software and some even promise reduction of number of revisions by 30%.
There’s no one right method for everyone, but if you have a frank look at your resources, figure out a simple process, start measuring performance and are motivated to improve, you’ll be on your way.
And don’t forget to seek advice. If you’d like advice on how to streamline your proofing process, let’s talk. We’ll be happy to help.