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Getting the Most Mileage out of your Graphics

So, you’ve spent a minor fortune creating that totally awesome graphic – how do you make sure you get the biggest return on them possible?

How do you maximize your investment in graphics?

We all know the importance of having good images, however good graphics usually come at a price. As a result, it’s important to really get the most out of those images. So, how do you maximize your investment in graphics?

Recycle them, but beware reuse only works well when done right. Luckily for us, Mike Parkinson of Billiondollargraphics serves up some great suggestions.

Pros of Recycling Graphics

  1. Nothing is more difficult than having to create stuff from scratch. Reusing old graphics can help jump start teams by serving as a place from which to draw ideas or foster creation is a lot easier than starting from scratch.
  2. If you can pull it off, reusing graphics saves tons of time and money.
  3. It leverages earlier efforts and institutional knowledge.

Cons of Recycling Graphics

  1. It’s really easy to say that those old graphics are “good enough” making everything look stale. It becomes dangerously easy to use too much of your old content versus using it as a starting point.
  2. Sometimes it can be more difficult to edit older graphics to fit new presentations or purposes. This process of editing older content to relate to more recent projects or presentations can end up taking lots of time and may not be worth it.
  3. Your organization may lose its “edge”. Excessive reuse results in no innovation and having no fresh ways to show off your ideas and concepts, which can lead to others seeing your company as uninspired.

Should you decide to recycle your graphics, here are some best practices to help you out:

  1. Use a knowledgeable, well-organized director to lead your team through the process of reusing graphics. They have to be able to determine what graphics can be reused, manage a database of graphics, and set the standards for reuse.
  2.  Remember the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your project should be custom content and twenty percent can be reused and tailored content. This said; remember that every rule is made to be broken. If quick turnaround is needed and you have projects similar in size and scope, you may want to incorporate more reused content.
  3. Implement a system to catalogue, search and retrieve content – often referred to as a digital asset management (DAM) system. Most large companies use tools that can be customized for this purpose. For example, for graphics try instituting a solution that incorporates metadata (searchable keywords) like 2012 Launch images. This way, you can group graphics by theme to make it easier to find: organization charts, bar graphs, stacked graphics etc…
  4.   Design for reuse. Develop graphics in a software package used by other team members. Create layers within your files labeled for text, photos, boxes, lines, arrows, graphics elements, etc… Highlight elements that require customization. Create templates indicating approved colors, logos, fonts, and any other design elements to keep design styles consistent.
  5. Develop a good quality control process. Try assigning a teammate to proof each piece before it’s printed or uploaded online. Remember the person designing the graphic should not be the one approving it.
  6. Review and refresh often. Excessive reuse results in no innovation. If they keep seeing the same graphics again and again they’ll feel that your company lacks any innovation. Whenever new graphics are created for a project, make sure they are labeled and copied into your database. If you find one graphic being overused, consider removing it from the database or the company server, or place it in a “retired” folder.

Reuse of graphics isn’t a bad thing; in fact reuse is necessary when faced with a project demanding a fast turnaround. Remember the key to success depends on knowing when and how to reuse those awesome graphics.

Image Source: www.iStockphoto.com