The act of gathering feedback and securing approvals from stakeholders for creative work has always been at best, a chore, and at worst, a serious disruption. Just ask your favorite graphic artist or creative director, brand manager or video producer—getting from design to decision is an onerous journey, and they often deal with these issues on a daily basis.
It’s for this reason that “online proofing” software came to be—a way to help solve a problem that countless brands and agencies have built workarounds for, or simply forced themselves to deal with (usually through gritted teeth.). As the market grew and more SaaS solutions developed, TrustRadius and other software review sites defined the category and stack-ranked vendors that allowed creative teams proofing abilities.
But now, something remarkable is happening inside marketing and creative teams all over the world. What was originally considered a traditional creative proofing problem seems to have evolved into something much greater.
Creative teams aren’t just seeking out basic transactional markup and approval options–the hallmarks of online proofing. High-performing teams are now actively building wider-reaching collaboration strategies around their creative work. We’re seeing creative teams looking for new ways to:
- Build more formal and predictable structures around gathering feedback
- Create processes that control and move creative work from Stage 1 to Stage X
- Bring stakeholders (inside and outside of the company) together at different phases of creative review–not just on different assets
- Collaborate on all formats of content–video, static design, PDFs, and more–in a holistic manner in one place
- Interconnect their entire creative tech stack from design software to project management tools to seamlessly flow assets across platforms
It was announced this week that Ziflow has once again swept TrustRadius’ “2023 Best Of Awards” in our software category, just as we did in 2022. But what’s interesting is how TrustRadius refers to the category this year: what was previously called “Online Proofing” is now listed as “Online Proofing and Creative Collaboration”.
In giving Ziflow the three top honors for the second year in a row—and changing the name of the category—the team at TrustRadius seems to have taken a look at traditional online proofing use and identified new attributes that separate the leader from other solutions in the space. By adding “creative collaboration” to the name, we believe that TrustRadius is signaling an evolution in the creative technology market, based on an emerging set of needs that creative teams are highlighting across their reviews. In their mind and in the minds of their users, the problem is bigger than just “collecting feedback”.
In short: being able to gather comments from stakeholders is one thing, but the ability to automate approval workflows to shorten the amount of time a creative team spends on a project, is something else entirely.
While some companies can support multiple file formats and offer integrated commenting capabilities, these represent the hallmarks of ”old school” online proofing. TrustRadius looked at what reviewers are looking for in a solution—automation, integrations, access, and accountability—and saw that the other solutions can’t do what Ziflow can do.
Yesterday, we announced our Series A round of funding, led by Riverside Acceleration Capital and Companyon Ventures, an event that comes at the end of an enormous amount of due diligence on the part of the investors. We believe that this funding provides affirmation that we’ve chosen the right direction, that the approval process is broken and a creative workflow solution–not just online proofing–can fix it.
To also have an independent user review site like TrustRadius arrive at the same conclusion at the same time—and to take the extra step of redefining a category to better reflect the qualities of its leader—shows that we’re on the road to something big.
Regardless of how creative solutions are defined and categorized (for what it’s worth, we like the term “creative workflow”), Ziflow will be forever motivated by the needs of our customers. From our perspective, the market won’t evolve until enterprise brands and agencies push it in that direction. We think we’re on the right path, and our customers have helped provide some confirmation that that’s the case. But both the news from this week and the trophies we can add to our shelf gives Ziflow the mandate to keep building and innovating to reflect the needs of the market, wherever it might end up.