Just about every company or institution today claims to have a brand. But what exactly is a brand?
Simply put, a brand is the expression of an organization’s philosophy, culture, abilities and goals. Branded communications materials can announce or mumble, inform or confuse, delight or depress, stimulate or irritate, and make or break a sale. Therefore, it’s important for every company or organization to plan its branding and marketing communications carefully.
A brand audit is a dynamic discovery process to determine specifically what a brand says. It involves studying all existing branded communications material produced by an organization. The analysis is based on comparing your existing communications material against a set of fundamental ideals and qualities associated with good visual and verbal communications (e.g., a clear message, a presentation that supports it, etc.). The audit provides a critical analysis of strengths and weaknesses in the existing communications effort and, at the same time, identifies opportunities for change. The process can also help garner any necessary support for implementing change later on.
Another part of the overall strategy in conducting a thorough audit is to gather perceptions from various areas of an organization. The most valuable perceptions usually come from three sources—internal groups, external groups, and user groups.
The premise of engaging in this information-gathering mission is simple. A good image development campaign and integrated marketing communications effort should be derived from, and be reflective of, the organization’s self-image and take into consideration how the company is perceived both internally and externally. This research should define, as succinctly as possible, what that self-image is and what the perceptions about the organization are.
Another goal of an audit is to understand the environment in which the brand must perform for the organization. Whether there are few or many competitors, a mature or newly developing industry, or other dynamics at play, a thorough brand audit should help develop better understanding of the factors that affect your ability to clearly express your brand to your audiences.
To learn more, download our free “Brand Clarity” eBook.