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Top compliance risks in your creative process (and how to fix them)

5 min read
Aaron Marquis

If you were to ask many creative teams “Do you have a compliance process?,” the answer you would most likely get is silence and a shrug. 

It’s not because these creative teams don’t care. It’s because most busy teams don’t have the resources or bandwidth to implement one. However, the risks of delivering creative projects without an eye on compliance are serious — companies expose themselves to brand damage, penalties, and fines.

Read below to see some of the problems you face when you don’t have a marketing compliance process in place and the solutions you can implement to protect your creative team.

What we'll cover

You’re relying on email to track approvals

The problem: Your company uses a tried-and-true, decades old method of collaboration, though it can create long email threads and isn’t particularly controlled in regards to compliance. Still, everyone has access to it and knows how to use it, so you believe the benefits outweigh the negatives.

The risk: Even though everyone uses email and you think it’s an archivable method of creative collaboration, it’s full of risk. There’s nothing to stop someone on the email thread from forwarding protected IP or proprietary information to others (even if it’s due to harmless excitement about an upcoming video, for example.) 

Plus, if you’ve ever been on a lengthy review thread for a creative project, or have simply completed tons of deliverables for your company, you know the headache of scrolling through thousands of email threads when an issue arises and you need to do a post-mortem on marketing content.

The solution: Use a controlled platform for content review that utilizes passwords and other safety measures to limit access to marketing and design files, and automates the review stages.

There’s no auditable trail of approved marketing content 

The problem: From the start of production to final delivery, creative files of all tops are shared across multiple platforms with no consistency. Versions find their way onto Dropbox, Adobe folders, project management apps, Slack, email, and everywhere else.

The risk: Besides the obvious risk of losing or misplacing creative files across such a disparate storage system, it’s also a guessing game as to which file is the “final” file approved for brand use (how many times have you seen “CreativeFile_FINAL_2.png” haunt your file system?). It’s a guarantee that one of your team members, or even someone from another department, will use the wrong file or an unapproved version externally.

The solution: Use a system that tracks approvals with the assets as they progress through the creative development process, and that approvals for files are married to them and easily exportable.

Content approvals and decisions don’t have a reason 

The problem: You only have the “who” of the approved content, not the equally critical “why.”

The risk: Creatives are not mind readers. When your team doesn’t know the reason why a change was requested or made, or why a piece of content was or wasn’t approved, you leave the intention up for interpretation. 

The solution: Stop the guessing game and utilize a feedback and approval system that empowers reviewers to attach reasons directly to assets. Additionally, that reason should never disappear, and should be archived for future reference.

Your partners don’t have a standard brand guidelines

The problem: The look, feel, and voice of your brand exists entirely within your creative team, inaccessible to brand partners or external contributors as they create content for your company without a brand book. 

The risk: Significant brand damage. When brand guidelines are left to the whims of individuals, without a written source of truth, your brand may be used in undermining ways without your knowledge. Imagine if a client or customer sees your logo with slightly different color shades or letter spacing — they might think the creative is not from your company.

The solution: Create a source of truth for your brand. A brand playbook (sometimes called a brand bible) and brand prototypes are absolute essentials, and should be accessible to anyone when beginning a creative project. Further, you should incorporate brand briefs into your asset review process.

You don’t have a predictable collaborative flow with your legal team

The problem: Your legal team is last to know, last to show. They may have to review all creative, but they’re not part of the creative process.

The risk: A murky or ill-defined legal review of creative content ensures that you will encounter situations where creative goes out the door without approval. At the minimum, you’ll create a bottleneck in your creative approval process where you wait for ages for legal to get back to you.

The solution: Build automated workflows that create deadlines and stages for review, so your legal team is seeing content throughout production and can weigh in at the appropriate time–every time.

Tuning up your creative process with compliance in mind can seem daunting when you're just trying to ship creative out the door for publication. Implementing controls over creative production minimizes risk and ensure brand content is created with due diligence every time.

Read more on how to create a compliant creative process in our ebook: "The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Compliance."

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