Union Strategy : The Design Audit

Projects that call for re-branding or repositioning begin with a communications audit. There are two components to this: a design audit and a competitive audit. A design audit is a review of all pieces of designed materials (both print and online) currently in use by your organization. (A more comprehensive examination can include an evaluation of written materials.) A competitive audit is a review of the documents produced by your competitors and peers.

Today we are going to focus on how a design audit can help you make your marketing more effective. Before you begin, review your branding or strategic planning documents. Then write down your organization’s top challenges and goals.  Having this information at the front of your mind will help you approach the design audit with a more strategic perspective. (Can you tell we’re huge fans of strategy?!)

Step One: Gather and Evaluate

Gather all the materials in one place where you can see everything at once, whether on a large bulletin board, spread out on a table. Print out online documents so they can be seen with print materials. Note your first impressions. Look for patterns, inconsistencies, and notice anything that stands out to you. Write it all down; after you have collected these initial thoughts, dig a little deeper. Be sure to evaluate the materials based on your strategic objectives and your audience, not your personal preference.

Step Two: Set Objectives

After assessing the strengths and weaknesses of your current spread of materials, identify the areas where you can take action. Some projects, such as a new website, might be too big to take on right away. If that’s the case, break it down into smaller steps and determine what you can do right now. For more significant projects, set objectives and put together a plan for how to get there.

Step Three: Document It

Summarize your observations in a brief report (no more than 1-2 pages).  Capture your insights and ideas so you can include them in the next communications plan.

Step Four: Move Forward

The only thing worse than ignoring strategy outright is spending so much time strategizing that nothing gets done. Sometimes our greatest obstacles come from grappling with our real-world limitations – doing what we can with what we have is always infinitely better than lamenting what is absent. Also, when understanding the gaps in our resources, we can be empowered to fill those gaps.

If this doesn’t sound like work you want to do on your own, give us a call! We’d love to help!