Guide

How can I use design in my business?

The design audit

A design audit is a systematic review of all the different elements that your company uses to interact with customers and the public.

How to carry out a design audit

When you carry out an audit, you should think about:

  • The materials that you use to communicate with your customers - are they printed, delivered via email or in one-to-one presentations?
  • How often do your customers visit your company premises? Have you designed your offices, retail spaces or warehouses so that they support your company's brand? Do they function efficiently?
  • How does your customer service compare to your competitors? Are your call centre, distribution and advice services performing well?

Design audit process

The process begins by collecting all the visual elements used in or by your business - eg business cards, flyers, leaflets, brochures, website, staff uniforms, vehicle liveries, packaging and products. If you operate in several locations, gather materials from each of them.

Then, work with a designer to map your business processes. This map should show the key stages you go through to create, produce and deliver your products or services.

Mark on this map the different types of people you interact with at each step along the way. Include details of how you communicate and influence them. For example, if your delivery drivers are interacting with manufacturers when collecting final products from a production line, mark on the business map the vehicles they drive, uniform they wear, and the receipts and information they deliver.

This will help you spot any inconsistencies in the way your business is presented. You can then develop a plan to ensure that your business and your message are consistent with each other.

Design standards manual

Everyone in your business needs to be aware of the consistent design plan. You should communicate to all how they should portray your business and your visual style in the future.

You can create design standards document to lay down what your company logo should look like, which colours and font to use. The manual may also explain:

  • how staff should interact with customers
  • what standards should your products, spaces or services meet

You can also complete our Get design ready tool to improve your understanding of design and its role in developing successful products, services and businesses.