Visual Brand Audit!

A good comprehensive audit of your brand is an important exercise that every business should do, no matter what size they are. This consists of:

  • revisiting strengths and weaknesses
  • assessing your competitors and where you fit in
  • looking at your audience to see if it has changed
  • where you are positioned in your area
  • how effective your brand voice is
  • if your messages are getting across to your target market effectively

An important component of an overall brand audit is the visuals you use to get your messages across in order to attract your next customer. These are your logo, imagery, colours, typography, marketing material, stationery and anything that is seen by everyone.

The assessment of your visual brand should run alongside a wider brand audit and should  also be informed by a fuller deeper analysis once it is done.

How often should you carry out a visual brand audit?

Think about it, you wouldn’t leave your car year after year without a service and MOT, so why would you leave the important elements of your business, the ones that keep it moving forward, for years and years without at least checking to see how effective they still are (or aren’t!). At least once a year you need to stop, look, and assess how your visual brand is doing – does it still portray your brand effectively or do you need to ‘tweak’ things a little?

Perform regular small reviews checking back to the goals and actions you have in place and  adjust slightly if things are not going to plan. Going back to the car analogy, you wouldn’t go on a road and stay on there if it was taking you in the wrong direction, you would adjust your route. So, every 3- 4 month do a smaller review to ensure things are going in the right direction!

Why do a visual brand review?

It’s easy to fall in to ‘bad’ habits, become complacent and, as a business grows, it’s an easy option to just keep adding to what you do. Your brand can then start to look confused, muddled and lacking in focus. Things such as:

• using too many or wrong colours

• Inconsistent posting

• Inconsistent fonts

• no structure to important information

• no imagery, or imagery that doesn’t represent the brand correctly

• logo starting to change or being used wrongly, or even different logos

• low resolution images or logos

• untidy advertising in print or digital

• Inconsistent use of brand Not having a strong connected visual brand can damage the reputation of your business and lose you sales without you realising it. If your visual brand is messy, unorganised, inconsistent, and confusing, it will confuse your target audience, who may then go and seek clarity in your competitors business.

Good Visual communication is Powerful!

If you think about our earliest recorded forms of communication as humans, you think of cave paintings, which evolved to symbols and then ultimately the written word. Our brains are geared up to process visual information faster and more effectively than the written word or speech…60,000 times more quickly in fact. Images also evoke stronger reactions than words, as they are encoded in the part of the brain where emotions are processed.

Investment in your visual brand and materials can be powerful because this subliminal deeper cerebral messaging done consistently and effectively, helps customers see the value of your brand helping build trust and recognition.

How do you do a brand audit

Collect all your marketing elements together in one place, from your logo and stationery to your social media and website, and everything in between. Then analyse all the elements used – logos, images, colours, fonts, print and digital materials, etc.

Ask questions like:

  • Do they look like they are from the same company?
  • Are you using the same language and sayings?
  • Is anything out of place?
  • Is there anything missing?
  • Are the colours being used consistently across everything?
  • Are the fonts being used in the right way and are they the correct ones?
  • Are all the images used representing your company correctly and do they look consistent?
  • Do the brand elements you are using, e.g. circles, lines, patterns, etc., look consistent?
  • Are you getting the right important information across clearly?

You can do this on your own, but it would be even better with one or two more people, either colleagues or friends, as a fresh pair of eyes can give you a different perspective and pick up things that you take for granted.

What next?

Set out some actions, what needs to change, and prioritise accordingly, from most important to least. Decide if you need outside help from the likes of a graphic designer or web designer and task accordingly. Really grab the opportunity for changes because the impact will pay dividends.

If you subscribe to our newsletter below you can get our free visual brand audit sheet to help you.

If you need help with your visual brand audit, then don’t hesitate to give us a call 01773 317148 or drop us an email:

Size really does matter…Pixels vs Vector

Navigating the world of digital images and which file format would fit which job is an area many of my customers get confused about. As designers, we forget it’s a language not everybody understands, and simply giving an image the correct file extension (.jpg for example) will not suddenly make everything clear and easy to understand.

This blog will explain, in a simple way, the differences between pixels and vectors, which to use, and when.

Pixelated Images

Let’s start with pixel-based images, these are images that have been created by camera or scanner and maybe have the file extensions .jpg, .png, .gif, .bmp after the file name. These types of images could also be created in a computer program like Photoshop, Elements, Pixel Art, etc. Look very closely at these images, zoom in, and you will see tiny squares of colour, a little like a mosaic – these are the pixels.

The squares are measured in square inches, so for instance, if you have an image that is 300dpi it means 300 dots (pixel squares) per inch.  If you want to enlarge this image to fit into a larger product, the little individual squares will grow, and this will make your image look blurred, fuzzy, and lacking in definition once you increase the image size. Trying to add more pixels per inch won’t help, as they will be added randomly and won’t produce good results. 

Low resolution images 72-150 dpi are used on digital platforms as they don’t need to be large and are quicker to render (show properly) on screen.

High resolution images are 300dpi and higher, these are needed for print to ensure they are not blurred.  The higher the dpi the sharper the image, especially if enlarged.

Vector Images

Vector images are files created in programs such as Illustrator, CAD, CorelDRAW and mainly have .pdf, .eps, .svg after the file name.

These images have been created by creating shapes and outlines, they are not made up of pixels, and do not rely on resolution as they are based on mathematical equations from one point to another forming lines and shapes.

You can edit colour, shapes, text layout etc. giving greater flexibility for images that need to change regularly for your brand or documents. This is why a vector image is best used for logos, illustrations, graphics, icons, and infographics. 

These files can be scaled up to whatever size you need and never lose any quality, no matter the size you need they will always look the same – from the size of business card to the size of a house.

These types of images are best applied to anything you are going to have printed, business cards, leaflets, clothing, signs, banners, brochures etc.

Where to use them.

Most printers or designers will ask for a .pdf or .eps format of your logo if they are using them in any design-work they are creating for you. This is because they can be changed into whatever format is needed. They are the most flexible file types because you cannot easily create a vector based image from a .jpg, .png or any other pixel file. There is a way designers can convert an image, but it is never a good quality conversion.

A designer may ask for a .jpg or a .png file and there is a difference in those two file types. A .jpg file will have a white solid background, whereas a .png file will have a transparent background. For example if you don’t have the logo in .pdf format but want your logo to be over the top of an image, or a different colour background on your website or social media, then a .png file is the best file to use

In conclusion

As you can see, in the context of graphic design at least, size really does matter!  If you don’t use the right file for the right job, it will really affect the quality of the marketing materials that your customers will see.  This in turn will reflect on the customer perception of the quality of your product or service before they even have a conversation with you.  Take pride in the way things look, as it will pay off.

Hopefully this brief explanation of the minefield of filenames and their uses  hasn’t blown your brain but has given you the insight to help you with being consistent with your brand.

Of course if you are truly stuck and have not got the right file format you can always get in touch with me, or any other designer or printer, and we will gladly help you out or explain a little further.

Below I have put together a handy table that might go a long way to helping you send the right file to the right job.