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Download TDC BRAND AUDIT WHITE PAPER V3 - The Design   Clarity Get an accurate view of your organization with a brand audit Ideas that engage, inform and inspire

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  • Brand Clarity Get an accurate view of your organization with a brand audit

    Ideas that engage, inform and inspire.

  • 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 organizations 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. It is therefore 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 the 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 the

    necessary support for implementing change later on.

    Another part of the overall strategy in conducting a thorough brand audit is to gather

    perceptions from various areas of an organization. The most valuable perceptions usually

    come from three sourcesinternal groups, external groups and user groups.

    The premise of engaging in this information-gathering mission is relatively simple. A good image

    development campaign and integrated marketing communications effort should be derived

    from, and be reflective of, the organizations 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.

    The goal is to understand the environment in which the brand must perform for the

    organization. A thorough brand audit should help develop this understanding.

    definition and purpose

  • By studying an organizations existing

    communications, a more complete picture of

    the organizations total identity and image it

    projects can be seen.

    A brand audit helps defi ne a strategy for improving the entire communications effort.

    Furthermore, it articulates strengths and weaknesses of individual projects through an

    objective framework and helps provide direction for branding on a broader scale. This

    perspective allows an organization to plan a more informed course of action to enhance

    its branding and communications effort.

    Branding problems and solutions are unique to each company or organization, but the building

    blocks of an effective brand and its communications remain virtually unchanged. The brand audit

    and subsequent steps help to establish these building blocks by:

    - Developing knowledge of what the company or organization is and wants to be

    - Monitoring changing values and expectations among audiences

    - Setting up goal-directed management of brand communications change

    - Providing clear, positive and forceful branding and identity

    The audit gives managers of branding and marketing communications more tools to work

    with. It provides the opportunity to exercise more control in managing the overall image and

    promotion activities of an organization. More control means enhanced quality, a higher level of

    consistency, higher brand integrity and, ultimately, greater marketplace preference for a brand.

    perceived value and benefits

  • The fi rst step in the process, before beginning an

    audit, is to develop a clear understanding of the

    organizations perceived identity.

    Certainly it is possible to audit the communications material without this context, but the

    evaluation would lack depth. The more information about an organization that can be factored

    into the evaluation, the more specifi c the recommendations can be. Most of the information

    needed should be easily obtainable.

    The following is a list of whats needed:

    1. Perceptions of the organization through the three groups mentioned previously

    2. The history and evolution of the company

    3. The companys mission statement

    4. The companys business and marketing plans

    5. As much information about the industry as possible, as well as what the

    competition is doing branding-wise, including samples of its branded materials

    methodology and deliverables

    5. As much information about the industry as possible, as well as what the

    competition is doing branding-wise, including samples of its branded materials

  • The next step in the process is to gather all

    existing communications material produced over

    recent years and to categorize it by department,

    general nature or purpose. At this point the

    evaluation process can begin.

    As mentioned before, the analysis is based on the visual and messaging context, and

    compares the existing brand communications material against a set of fundamental ideals

    and qualities associated with good branding and marketing communications. The following

    fundamental elements are referred to as observable characteristics which provide the

    backdrop for evaluating an organizations existing communications.

    These components are:

    1. Suitabilityappropriateness and compatibility with the organizations purpose

    and general nature

    2. Nomenclaturehow you refer to yourself; by name or set of names

    3. Dignityattractiveness, staying power

    4. Distinctivenessuniqueness, memorability

    5. Consistencyhow everything works as a part of the greater whole

    6. Technical qualityin the reproduction of materials, photography and imagery, etc.

    7. Clarity of messagingsimple, direct, transparent

    8. Versatilitythe ability of branding and marketing communications to be

    integrated in various media

    After the evaluation is complete, a written analysis is produced. The analysis is delivered

    with a verbal presentation to the client and includes exhibits of the evaluated items for

    easy reference. The report draws on the evaluation and concludes with general and specifi c

    recommendations for making improvements, and presents an overall strategy for next steps.

  • One of the most common results of a brand

    audit is finding a lack of consistency in the

    communications effort. Another is finding

    the communication to be out of date with the

    current image and direction of the organization.

    This is particularly evident if an organization has

    grown and evolved rapidly, and/or the people

    responsible for the communications effort have

    changed over time.

    A brand audit is only one piece of the brand discovery process. As mentioned earlier,

    gathering perceptions from internal and external audiences is also crucial, as is conducting

    desk research to understand the competitive landscape. But a candid assessment of your

    branding materials is the first step toward understanding what messaging and image

    elements work to your advantage and which dont, as well as identifying the opportunities that

    can lead to a more accurate reflection of who you are (or want to be) in the marketplace.

    implications and next steps

  • A branding expert

    The Design Channel has extensive expertise in creating insightful positioning and brand

    strategy solutions for organizations and companies in a wide range of industries. Visit

    www.thedesignchannel.com to learn more about our work.

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    Branding and Integrated Marketing Communications

    The Design Channel, LLC

    5420 Wisconsin Avenue

    Chevy Chase, MD 20815

    p 301.951.9195

    f 301.951.9197

    www.thedesignchannel.com