Perform a Visual Audit to Differentiate Your Brand

Elevate your brand's visual strategy with a thorough visual audit. Our blog offers insights on how to improve your brand's visual identity.

POST UPDATED:

March 2, 2024

Visual Audit

Consumers' attention spans are getting shorter by the day. Businesses must have an effective visual communication strategy to get their audience's attention. Otherwise, they will struggle to reach their most profitable customers.

A visual audit ensures that your branding creates differentiation for your business and makes it memorable.

Our team has over 40 years of combined experience in brand strategy and marketing. We've helped countless business clients achieve sustainable growth with visual audits. And we’ve personally tested these strategies in real-world scenarios.

I'll share what we've learned about visual audits in this post. After reading it, you'll know how to perform an audit to enhance your brand.

Table of Contents

    What Is a Visual Audit, and Why Is It Important?

    A visual audit is an assessment of your brand's identity, including its logo, color scheme, typography, and overall design consistency. It's important because it helps ensure that your brand's design elements align with your message, marketing strategy, and business goals.

    The Role of Imagery in Branding

    Visuals play a crucial role in shaping and defining your brand image. Together, they form your identity and improve long-term recognition. Companies should consider these factors when developing visual materials:

    • Brand personality: How do you want customers to perceive your business? The images you use should align with that perception.
    • Target audience: Who are your customers? Different demographics may respond to different types of images.
    • Diversity: Images used should represent other races, ages, and genders.
    • Consistency: Your images' visual style, colors, and other design elements should be constant. Consistency improves recognition and reinforces a unified brand identity.
    • Relevance and authenticity: Stock images are prevalent. But consider using customer photography that shows real people using your product or service. These images make your brand relatable and genuine.

    Mastering the Elements of a Brand Communication Strategy

    Learn the fundamentals of successful brand communication and why it's essential for businesses that want to create a powerful connection with customers.

    Visual Audit: More Than the Logo

    A visual brand audit is the best way to uncover flaws and inconsistencies with the images used in your company's branding and marketing. Here are some examples of brand materials covered in an audit:

    • The company logo
    • Brand typography
    • Website design
    • Social media channels
    • Brochures, business cards, and stationery
    • Presentations

    Research shows that presenting a brand consistently across all platforms and channels can amplify revenue by up to 23%.

    But consistency isn't limited to using the same logo or color scheme everywhere. You must also deliver a unified message and experience, no matter where or how consumers interact with your brand. A brand visual audit is essential because it helps companies maintain consistency across all platforms and mediums.

    An audit also allows you to assess what visual content is working and what isn't. It's easy to drift off-brand. You may not even realize it's happening until you step back and look at your branding. A visual audit can help you correct drift.

    Visual audits can also help uncover potential legal issues. If any images or logos used in your branding are too similar to another company's, you could face trademark infringement lawsuits. Apple actually sued a small company for logo infringement.

    Competitor analysis is also part of a visual audit. This analysis helps you understand their visual communication strategies. In turn, you can figure out how to differentiate while avoiding duplication.

    Visual preferences and design trends change over time. Regular audits enable you to keep up. As a result, you can maintain a relevant and aesthetically pleasing identity.

    Brand Style Guidelines Example
    Brand Style Guidelines Example

    A visual audit enhances the user experience both online and offline. The user experience includes visuals or graphics that guide the user during an interaction with the brand. These interactions occur online (i.e., website or app) and offline (in physical stores).

    A brand visual audit helps you maintain ease of use and a consistent user experience. It also allows you to identify areas for improvement in your visual communication. For example, your visuals may have potential biases or stereotypes. This finding from an audit allows you to make necessary changes to promote diversity and inclusivity.

    Conducting regular visual audits can help companies save money. An audit helps determine whether current assets are relevant, outdated, or unused. As a result, you'll avoid creating new visuals that aren't needed.

    Finally, performing a visual audit also benefits companies with multiple brands under their umbrella. It enables the conglomerate to maintain an organized House of Brands.

    User experience honeycomb
    User experience honeycomb (SOURCE: Semantic Studios)

    How to Conduct a Visual Audit

    Some of you may choose to conduct your audit in-house. Others might hire an expert. Regardless, assessing images is often a subjective task. You will likely get a variety of opinions, depending on whom you ask.

    For example, some people might think it’s bland or boring if you have a simple logo. Others may appreciate its simplicity. Likewise, some customers might like your color scheme, but others won’t.

    So, who should you listen to?

    It depends.

    We believe there is value in every opinion. However, you should also consider the source. For example, the opinion of someone who fits your ideal customer profile will carry more weight than feedback from a one-time buyer.

    As you perform your visual brand audit, the source of the feedback is as important as the feedback itself.

    Gathering Brand Assets

    Start by collecting samples of typography, color schemes, imagery, and product photography. To get a holistic perspective, be sure to get brand assets from all departments within your organization. Ask all teams to provide you with any visual assets they use, including logos, images, display ads, social media assets, presentations, digital and print marketing materials, and any other branded items.

    Different departments may use distinct visual elements or apply the style guidelines differently. You can gain a clear and complete understanding of your brand's visual representation by including all these components.

    What Is a Brand Audit?

    Want your brand to stand out? Analyze your brand's position in the marketplace with a comprehensive brand audit. Read this guide to learn more.

    Look for Visual Inconsistencies

    The problems with a company’s visual strategy will differ from one to the next. But in this section, we’ll explore the most common issues.

    Alignment

    You might think maintaining brand consistency would be easy. But, in our experience, inconsistency is one of the biggest identity issues companies have. Inconsistencies occur naturally over time across different platforms and departments.

    This happens most often when several stakeholders are involved in choosing imagery. For example, the web designer and social media manager may select images for their respective channels. However, they may never coordinate the selection process. As a result, the appearance of the website and social media platforms don't align.

    Visual elements should also align with the brand’s voice, values, and narrative. Remember that all these work together to create the brand identity.

    Relevancy

    Keeping up with visual trends without losing the brand's essence can be a balancing act. Visual tastes and styles change constantly, particularly in the digital space. The brand’s personality and values are the anchor of all branding decisions. The second component is the audience's preferences.

    Competitors can also be a valuable source of insight. Study their imagery. Look for similarities that could help you create differentiation. For example, if most of your competitors use similar color palettes, you may be able to stand out using contrasting colors.

    The most crucial point to remember is that everything you choose (i.e., images and colors) should make sense for your brand's industry, persona, and market position.

    Quality

    Quality control is another common problem we see. Quality control involves maintaining high standards for all the visual elements, such as logo usage, typefaces, and colors.

    It’s not unusual to see photographic styles that differ across various media. These issues can dilute your image and make it look unprofessional. Lower-quality images appear amateurish, which erodes credibility. Sometimes, they may not even align with the messaging or values.

    3 Pillars of Visual Audit
    3 Pillars of Visual Audit

    Post-Audit Action Plan and ROI Metrics

    Once the audit is complete, it’s time to develop an action plan to address issues. This plan might include updating design assets, style guidelines, or photography.

    Measuring the ROI of a visual design audit involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) that the brand's identity can impact. Awareness, customer engagement, website traffic, and conversion rates are examples. Look at the correlation between your changes and KPIs to gauge ROI.

    Do You Need a Visual Audit?

    If so, click on the button below to connect with a strategist.

    Brand Strategist | Managing Director

    Chris has over 15 years of experience in brand development and marketing. He has designed strategies across various industries, such as technology, B2B services, and healthcare. His areas of expertise include brand positioning, competitive analysis, content marketing, and web development.

    Are you ready to find out how a brand audit can transform your business?

    Our brand audit process is a comprehensive analysis designed to help companies optimize performance.

    • Increase ROI on lead generation and sales conversions.
    • Reduce marketing expenses.
    • Strengthen brand positioning to become more competitive.

    We guarantee satisfaction or get your money back! Schedule a discovery call with a brand auditor to find out more.

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