Manage Font And Asset Risk With Effective Creative Intelligence

Extensis CEO Toby Martin Speaks To The Emerging Importance of Creative Intelligence in 2024


While 2024 is off to a great start, we can’t help but reflect upon the banner year Extensis just enjoyed. That’s right, in 2023 we were lucky enough to celebrate our 30th anniversary AND launch our new Creative Intelligence Suite, the latter of which helps creative teams manage risk throughout creative operations.

Still, that begs many questions as we look forward to the rest of 2024 – what exactly is “Creative Intelligence?” How does it differ from business intelligence? What’s up with its link to font licensing? And are creative assets foot loose and fancy free for everyone do with as they please…or do they come with associated risks?

We knew Extensis CEO Toby Martin would have some thoughts on all these questions (and more), so we sent them his way – check out his responses below.

Key Takeaways

  • Creative Intelligence monitors the entire creative process, from ideation through production, and helps prevent problems rather than solve them retroactively.
  • Various changes in creative operations – including more creative assets becoming intertwined with software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions and the rise of generative AI – have brought licensing and risk to the forefront of the creative process.
  • Everyone, from individual creatives to leadership, should be aware of the risk fonts and other creative assets pose if not licensed and managed properly throughout the entire creative operations lifecycle.  
  • Creative risk results in additional costs, such as overspending for a font by double paying just because it’s easier than tracking down old invoices, or incurring costs from last-minute project revisions due to inefficient auditing practices.

Extensis recently launched a new Creative Intelligence Suite. Can you start by explaining what “Creative Intelligence” is?


Toby Martin: Creative Intelligence is a new way of looking at some things that are established and mature, like font and digital asset management, and combining them with a newer perspective around creative projects in progress. With our suite specifically, it means learning about what creative projects are being produced, how they’re being produced, and ultimately helping our customers increase productivity within their creative process while protecting them by reducing risk.

Extensis’ Creative Intelligence Suite builds on our extensive history working with the world’s top creative teams to provide them with a deeper understanding of the creative process and insight into its inherent risks. Until now, creative teams haven’t had a way to flag risk as they move to production, which is where things can really get messy.

How is Extensis’ Creative Intelligence Suite different from traditional business intelligence?


Toby Martin: Traditional business intelligence is built on the foundation of looking backward – almost forensically – for future improvements the next time something is done. Creative Intelligence, on the other hand, is built on the foundation of not having to wait for results to improve operations. Looking back is fine and a good place to start, but given the speed of innovation, why not look forward in real time? We don’t think you should have to wait to improve.

We spent a lot of time in conversations with our customers regarding their wants and needs for better Creative Intelligence. Those conversations resulted in our Creative Intelligence Suite being active, dynamic, and forward-looking, so our customers have the chance to prevent problems instead of solve them retroactively. We found that our customers were tired of relying on hindsight to inform future decisions, so we gave them a way to prevent problems at the project level in advance, instead of solving a multitude of problems at the asset level through a rear-view mirror.

Extensis has a 30-year legacy in helping creative enterprises remove the barriers that get in the way of creativity. What is changing in creative operations that is driving the need for the Creative Intelligence Suite and creative risk management in general?


Toby Martin: The changes range from time crunches on creative briefs, to agencies now serving as key stakeholders in brand value, to speedier tech stacks tying disparate pieces together into suites, to AI. Plus, as more and more creative assets become part of the SaaS model, those software services we subscribe to instead of individual products we purchase and own, vendors and their behaviors have changed to be more critical about usage. This all brings licensing and risk to the forefront of the creative process, not only at the back end with audits.

Many creative operations leaders are looking for efficiency – a single source of truth that removes all barriers and enables creatives to focus on creating their best work, with less churn, less waste in money, hours, and resources, and less duplication of effort. And that’s exactly what our Creative Intelligence Suite provides.

With more creative assets produced, and more creative assets to manage, risk increases. What is the cost of this increased risk?


Toby Martin: The cost could be soft costs from paralysis due to fear about the countless steps needed to ensure projects don’t introduce risk before you even begin. A hard cost could stem from more intrusive management of the process; combined with shrinking deadlines, this could lead to folks completely circumventing said steps and introducing financial risk by, for example, using an unlicensed font or other unlicensed creative asset in a final deliverable, which can lead to costly litigation. Another hard cost could be straight-up overspending by paying twice for a font simply because it’s easier than tracking down old invoices.  

Within the creative industry, who should care about creative risk?


Toby Martin: Everyone. What we hear from our customers is that the risk that individual creatives and managers feel and experience, such as the risk of an unlicensed font in an ad campaign, isn’t necessarily visible to their leadership, so what’s missing is the connection of risk throughout the creative process and the visibility of that risk to the decision makers. That’s one of the primary goals of our Creative Intelligence Suite – protecting people at all levels of the creative process from the risk.

AI is a brand-new player in the creative asset game. How will the rise of generative AI increase creative risk and the need for Creative Intelligence?


Toby Martin: We’re already witnessing a mass proliferation of creative assets due to AI, on a scale of change that may very well wind up being larger than that of the printing press, given that tool was limited by the availability of raw goods. AI is not limited by anything other than access to computer models, so from our smartphone or tablet or whatever device we’re using, we can reach as many people or more, instantly. The larger the reach and more democratized the creation, the greater amount of risk introduced, and thus greater is the need for Creative Intelligence.

Thanks Toby—a new way of looking at things indeed! Or maybe it’s simply a way of helping customers fill the gaps in their creative ops. Either way, making decisions based on new information is at the heart of leadership, so while we go on amplifying our Creative Intelligence Suite, here’s a blog that will help you decide how to identify font risk in no time: How To Identify Potential Font Risks In Creative Projects.