Right-first-time tip 3: Make sure all the information is correct before starting, using an artwork brief

Right-first-time tip 3: Make sure all the information is correct before starting, using an artwork brief

Right-first-time, I believe, is a key metric and goal for your artwork process and this week I talk through my third tip, ‘Make sure you have all the information before starting’. Unfortunately many companies start with incomplete information and so here I talk through why this happens, why having the information upfront is so important and how to manage the process.

People mistakenly think starting early will make it faster

Why is it that there are so many issues with pharmaceutical artwork? Well getting artwork right is tricky. It requires gathering all the correct different elements, from different departments in the company, often from different countries, and making sure they are placed onto a piece of artwork in exactly the right position, accurately.

Companies often jump straight into designing the artwork, thinking that getting ahead of the game will speed up the overall process but they are mistaken. Consistently, I have seen that proceeding this way not only makes it more likely for mistakes to happen but often the overall timescales are longer.

One analogy is to think of the situation where you are arranging for your house to be painted. You test to get the colours you want and then agree that up front with your painters.  You don’t get them to try different colours until you see one you like and you don’t want to have to pay them again if they use a colour you don’t like!

A good artwork brief defines ‘the change’ completely, with no ambiguity

Events either inside or outside a company will result in the need to introduce new artwork or change existing artwork. So a ‘change’ is required. I always recommend to clients, to have all the information before starting and make sure it is correct. The ‘change’ is captured in an artwork brief, signed off as approved by key parties before starting.  A perennial source of artwork not being right-first-time is incorrect input information or a key stakeholder not agreeing the change during artwork approval.

A good brief is a clear and concise record of the change required with no room for any misinterpretation and contains the following information:

  • The standard cover page with all the relevant information on the change and the data required
  • A standard implementation workflow with the people who will be involved in the change and their agreed dates
  • A draft bill of materials with the component numbers required, both new and existing
  • The electronically marked up artwork amended and presented with suitable software
  • The source documents selected from a recognised repository.

All this information is collated and presented as one brief.

It is important the same groups who approve the artwork, sign off the brief

A powerful use of the brief comes from the key stakeholders agreeing this is the change required. The signatories will need to be defined for each part of your company and their approval forms a critical control point in your process.

The final artwork review and approval would be made against the artwork brief, by the same signatory departments and ideally the same people who approved the brief, making sure all the changes required have been implemented and that no other changes have been made inadvertently.

In my next article I will talk through my fourth tip – making sure you have a clear process.

To help you in your Artwork Improvement Program, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities


Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.

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