How to Keep Your Visuals On-Brand
By: Lidia Varesco Racoma
Lidia Varesco Design
Are your organization’s visuals on-brand or have they slowly started to derail?
But fear not, you can maintain successful brand consistency by doing some simple planning and preparation.
Conduct A Branding Audit
A brand audit allows you to see all your branding at-a-glance, showing you where there may be gaps or inconsistencies to address.
First, take screenshots or print copies of each of your marketing channels (print, website, email, social media, blog, etc.) and review them all on-screen or spread them out on a table. Are logos, colors and images consistent? Do any visuals stand out or look slightly off? This will give you a clue as to where to make improvements.
TIP: Download this free Branding Checklist worksheet to make the process easier.
Clean Up Your Logos
Over time, you may end up with multiple versions of your organization’s logo—many of which are incorrect in color, style or resolution. Do an occasional clean-up of your logo files, keeping only the appropriate and usable versions.
TIP: Make sure you have all necessary logo variations (horizontal, vertical, square, with/without tagline) as well as file formats for print and digital usage.
Develop a Look
Consistent imagery makes your organization’s outreach more engaging, so consider how you will use images in your branding—especially in the more visual social media channels. You can create image consistency through color, style, photographic point of view, backgrounds or subject matter.
TIP: Keep an inspiration folder of social media feeds you find interesting and engaging.
Create a Photo Library
Most organizations eventually end up with a large collection of images from multiple sources—as well as many people who need to access those images—so it’s a good idea to organize and categorize them regularly. You can sort images by project name, subject matter (i.e. events, volunteers) or source (i.e. in-house, photographer or stock).
TIP: Label stock images by agency name (iStockphoto) and type (i.e. royalty-free, licensed, free) for future reference.
Upload Brand Assets
If you use an image creation app, you can upload and store logos and other key brand elements in the app for easy access.
For example, Canva’s Brand Kit feature allows you to store your brand’s colors, fonts and logos directly in the app. Adobe Spark users can activate the Add Brand feature to create a custom template defined by brand colors and fonts.
Make Branding Accessible
Aim to keep all of your organization’s brand assets in one place (such as a shared Dropbox or Google folder) that is accessible by your entire team and outside vendors.
TIP: Keep brand asset files organized and labeled by type, i.e. logos, fonts, photography.
Be Aware of Sizing
Image size and proportion will vary across digital channels as well as by usage (i.e. the size of a Facebook post is not the same as a Facebook header). Don’t make the mistake of using the same image for multiple purposes and letting the app resize for you—always create graphics specific to the channel and type of post.
TIP: Bookmark a social media image size guide (like this always-up-to-date post from Sprout Social) to assure you are sizing images correctly.
Have Templates On-Hand
If you share specific types of images often (i.e. infographics, event posts, weekly themed posts), storing editable templates in a graphics program or online image app will help maintain consistency—and also speed up the design process.
Create a Brand Guide
Keeping a brand guide for your organization is the best way to ensure visuals stay on-brand throughout your marketing outreach. Brand guides provide a detailed overview of your organization’s branding elements and assure that everyone in your organization (as well as outside partners and vendors) are expressing the brand consistently and accurately.
If you don’t have one yet, consider creating a brand guide for your organization. Even a simple guide with specifications for logo, color, typography and images can make a big difference.
TIP: If you need help creating a brand guide, here’s a useful framework for what to include.
So there you have it: a few easy ways to assure your organization’s visuals stay on-brand—while also making a connection and stronger impact with your audience.
Lidia Varesco Racoma of Lidia Varesco Design empowers organizations to make a change through strategic branding and marketing design. She blogs about branding and creative marketing and leads workshops and webinars for nonprofits and small businesses. She is also founder of an online community for moms in business called Biz Mama.