How to create a Visual Brand Audit

Design, Identity, Tips and Tricks0 comments

Creating a visual brand audit doesn’t need to be a daunting task. I once wrote about how an identity update can be a great confidence booster for you, your business, its employees and customers. But how do you decide whether your identity needs updating?

Not every update needs to be a complete redesign –sometimes a refresh or tidy up, such as a simplification of existing elements or a strategy to broaden your sub-brands, are also good reasons to update your identity. The important thing is to decide what you want to achieve from any brand refresh for an outcome to be successful.

What is a Visual Brand Audit

Visual brand audits are a great way to assess the current ‘health’ of your brand. Think of them as a systematic review or an assessment of your company’s brand elements. It’s your use of these visual elements and how you implement them that we’re most interested in. Common items like your use of fonts, colours and logo variations are obvious brand elements. Also consider the style of photography you use, the paper you print on, office and vehicle signage and website graphics. These are all elements that can be reviewed and assessed.

Why is a Visual Brand Audit Important

If you’re business has been trading for a number of years it’s easy to amass a lot of marketing material and sales tools. Each item may have a variation of your logo or have tag lines or colour schemes added to differentiate it from other products or services.

It’s a bit like the childhood game of Chinese whispers, with each handling of the logo someone new adds their own erroneous interpretation or ‘improvement’ and in the end nothing makes sense and the end message has been lost. Unless you have a strict set of guidelines you are diluting your brand and any disunity will be evident to your customers.

Time for a review!

Getting Started with your Visual Brand Audit

Working with your designer or marketing expert, collate anything that carries your logo and even those items that don’t. Include past and present documents, brochures, stationery, your website, signage, etc. You may find it useful to print them out, categorise them (eg. stationery, product brochures, electronic, print, corporate, internal and external documents, packaging, etc.) and stick them on large A1 posters.

Review and evaluate your findings and do some market research into how your employees and customers perceive your brand. Look for inconsistencies when viewed collectively:

  • Are there too many variations of the logo?
  • Has the logo quality been compromised?
  • Are the proportions and colours consistent?
  • Is the same font being used throughout?
  • Are there differences between corporate and retail?
  • Where can you maximise exposure?
  • Do your customers refer to your business with an initialism or acronym?
  • How can you strengthen and improve your exposure?
  • Is your product photography or brand imagery consistent?

How Long Should a Visual Brand Audit Take

Depending on the material you’ve collected and how much categorising and sorting you want to do, a visual brand audit shouldn’t have to take too long. If you’re part of a larger organisation with offices interstate or globally you may find that working electronically is easier. Why not create a shared folder via Dropbox and ask staff to upload files and images to your shared drive. Create subfolders for staff to do the categorising for you. Don’t forget to provide a submission deadline and make sure to follow up with key personnel, those that use your brand most often. Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to collate everything.

Use your visual brand audit to convince management that your brand needs some care and attention.

If you haven’t reviewed your identity in the last five years a visual brand audit may just be what your business needs.

Why Should I Update My Brand

A visual change could signify that you’re doing things differently, it can generate discussion or even excitement. Make sure you consider your brand’s heritage, competitors and market place as well as any cost implications before deciding what improvements you make. If you haven’t reviewed your identity in the last five years a visual brand audit is just what you need for an informed decision and a well considered brief.

Need Help with Your Next Visual Audit?

If you’re a little time poor but would like Paraph to assess your current brand strenght and exposure, why not get in touch and arrange for us to manage your next brand audit?

Case Study

See how, after a visual brand audit, we redesigned the Paltech identity and website.

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