Creative Workflows
Collaboration
Marketing excellence

Mastering the Steps: Why a Thorough Creative Approval Process Is Essential

Creative Approval Routing makes sure every piece of work gets the necessary stakeholder feedback to hit its goals. It involves pinpointing the right people, setting clear guidelines, and using efficient tools. This process polishes the final product and helps teams deliver faster and on a larger scale. It's all about streamlining the journey from idea to polished, high-quality result.

David Pondell

7

min read

Jun 18, 2024

In the whirlwind world of creative collaboration, it’s important that every piece of work is reviewed and approved effectively. This meticulous process, known as Creative Approval Routing, is the backbone of delivering high-quality, cohesive marketing and sales materials. It involves a series of steps that each creative asset must go through before final approval to ensure the output hits the mark every time.

Mastering the Steps: Why a Thorough Creative Approval Process Is Essential

Introduction to Creative Approval Routing

Picture this: Your entire team is pouring your hearts into a campaign, and anticipating the impact the campaign will have at launch. In everyone’s eagerness to get creative out-the-door, a formal approval process was bypassed—thinking quick, informal feedback from internal stakeholders and the client would suffice. 

Just days ahead of the scheduled launch, the campaign undergoes a last-minute review by the client’s senior management—and the feedback is a blow. Multiple assets need to be reworked and files need to be redesigned. Now, your team is on an even tighter deadline and stretched thin.

Does this scenario sound familiar? If you’re like me, a distant memory of this may even raise hairs on the back of your neck. All of us—whether you work on a large marketing team or at a small agency—have encountered some version of this approval paralysis before. Creative approval software enables you to avoid pitfalls like these from the start, so that you don’t fall prey to last-minute surprises. By implementing top creative approval tools, your team can ensure the final product is aligned with brand standards, legally compliant, and better suited to market needs.

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What is Approval Routing?

The approval routing process is the backbone of any effective creative project. For teams in agencies, marketing, and sales departments, mastering this process can be the difference between a project that soars and one that falters. 

Remember Pepsi’s infamous Kendall Jenner ad? It’s possible that a thorough creative approval workflow would have enabled Pepsi to avoid public backlash. When done right, creative approval workflows can help your team avoid costly mistakes, protect the creative vision, and ensure the final product matches the original concept and goals.

At its core, creative approval routing refers to the process by which creative assets—be they videos, graphics, or written content—are reviewed and approved before final delivery. This process ensures all stakeholders can review, provide feedback, and approve content in a sequential manner, so that errors are avoided and, ultimately, the campaign delivers on the intended brief and meets all stakeholder expectations.

What is Required for Creative Approval?

Embarking on the journey of creative approval can seem daunting at first, but it becomes far more manageable once stakeholders and review cycles are clearly defined. Remember, the goal is to ensure that the creative output aligns with the objectives and standards of your team, agency, or marketing department. Below are three key criteria to focus on so that your creative process is not just effective, but also empowering for everyone involved:

  • Stakeholder Identification: The first step in the creative approval process is identifying the key stakeholders who need to be involved. This often includes team members like project managers, creative directors, and marketing leads, or more senior managers like the VP of Marketing of CMO. The involvement of these individuals ensures that diverse perspectives are considered and that the final product meets all necessary criteria. Understanding who the decision-makers are early in the process—and when they should weigh in—can streamline communication and significantly reduce delays.

  • Clear Guidelines and Criteria: For a creative review and approval process to be efficient, clear guidelines and criteria should be established from the start. These often include brand guidelines, project objectives, and quality standards that the team needs to keep in mind. Articulating this criteria helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and aware of what is expected.

  • Efficient Tools and Platforms: With the amount of creative that team’s are expected to turn daily, an efficient creative review software and video approval software are indispensable. Streamlining the approval process with robust approval platforms allows teams to collaborate more effectively so that you can eliminate bottlenecks and accelerate your overall workflow.

How to implement a Creative Approval Workflow?

When it comes to implementing a creative workflow, there are a series of proven steps that will help your team hit the ground running. From initial brainstorm to internal and external reviews, approvals are both an art and a science, and the following formula will enable you to kick-start the process:

  1. Initial Submission of Creative Work: The journey begins with the initial submission of creative work. This stage involves the creative team preparing their content for review, whether it's a marketing strategy, a video, or a digital ad campaign. They present a draft along with any relevant context or backup documentation needed for the reviewers to understand the project's scope and objectives fully.

  1. Review Stages and Rounds: Once a draft, or initial version, is created, the next step is most often an internal review where feedback is collected iteratively from internal team members and stakeholders. The internal review is usually composed of multiple steps, with each round aiming to refine the creative asset further. Each stage may involve different sets of reviewers with unique expertise—ranging from brand managers to legal advisors. 


  1. Final Approval and Feedback: Once the internal review is completed, a client review is typically next, where external stakeholders are asked to weigh-in with their input. Client feedback usually happens over several versions until final feedback is received and adjustments are made with the goal of receiving final sign-off from key decision makers. After rounds of refinement and feedback implementation, the project is presented for final sign-off. This ultimate endorsement signifies that the work aligns with the initial vision and meets the high standards set by the brand. Constructive feedback here not only validates the team's efforts but also offers insights for future improvement.

By understanding and effectively managing the approval routing process, teams can enhance their creative output, ensure stringent quality control, and foster a more collaborative environment. This path requires commitment, communication, and the right tools to streamline each step, leading to successful and impactful creative projects.

Benefits of Using Creative Review Software

Without the right tools, a creative review process can feel like a lot to tackle, especially when teams are working on multiple campaigns and dozens of creative assets at once. Here's where creative review software and video approval software come into play—and why it can make a world of difference. Let's dive into the benefits these platforms offer teams, especially those in marketing, sales, and agencies:

  • Increased Efficiency and Speed: Time is of the essence in the fast-paced world of marketing and sales. Implementing creative review software can drastically cut down on the time it takes to gather feedback and make revisions. These tools streamline the entire process by allowing all stakeholders to view and comment on creative materials in real-time. Notifications and automatic reminders ensure that no one misses a crucial review deadline, which leads to quicker turnaround times so your team can launch campaigns faster and stay ahead in a competitive market.

  • Improved Communication and Collaboration: Collaboration is the heart of creativity. Creative review software and video approval software act as centralized platforms where all team members can share their insights, comments, and approvals in one place. This eliminates the chaotic email threads, messy file versions, and the classic “I missed this in my inbox” scenarios. With everything hosted in a single platform, team collaboration becomes more streamlined, transparent, and effective. Such improved communication fosters an environment where creativity can truly flourish.

  • Enhanced Quality Control and Consistency: Ensuring that your creative output maintains high standards and brand consistency is vital. Using creative review software helps maintain a meticulous review process where every detail is scrutinized. The software often comes with features like version tracking, which allows teams to compare different iterations and ensure that the final product meets all guidelines and standards consistently. This level of quality control not only enhances the final output but also helps in establishing a trustworthy and consistent brand image.

By embracing technologies like creative review software and video approval software, you're not just optimizing your workflow; you're also empowering your team to focus more on creating and less on managing logistics. In a world where every minute counts, equipping your team with these tools could be the catalyst for unparalleled creative success.

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Future Trends in Creative Review and Approval

Creative Approval Routing is more than just a process; it's a strategic asset that teams must leverage to stay competitive and innovative. Embracing the right tools and platforms is crucial—and those that do it best get ahead of the rest. By consolidating feedback, approvals, and task management into one seamless interface, teams can achieve higher levels of efficiency and creativity.

A top creative review and approval tool like StreamWork can streamline the management of your team’s creative projects, all in one place. It simplifies workflows by consolidating all feedback, approvals, and task management. This enables teams to communicate more effectively, reduce administrative overhead, and focus more on creative output rather than process management. 

Whether you're dealing with design, marketing, or any other project-driven work, StreamWork provides the tools needed to keep projects on track and enhance productivity. Try it free today at www.streamwork.com

Author

David Pondell

David is a Sales Account Executive and Platform Specialist at StreamWork. David has extensive experience working with organizations of all sizes to implement seamless creative workflows that drive results and exceed client expectations.

Creative Workflows
Collaboration
Marketing excellence
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