Brand Audits: Choosing The Auditor

Brad VanAuken The Blake ProjectDecember 11, 20072463 min

More thoughts on brand audits and auditors. Brand auditors must go far beneath the surface to assess the strength of an organization’s mission and vision and the strength of its brand’s essence, promise, and personality (especially in relationship to the organization’s stakeholders’ perceptions of the organization). As part of the process, the auditor should investigate how congruently each of the following groups or sources articulate or manifest these organizational and brand attributes:

  • Its leaders
  • Its official documents
  • Its internal and external communications
  • Its marketers
  • Its salespeople
  • Its customer service employees
  • Its other employees
  • Its business partners
  • Each and every point of contact the brand makes with its clients/customers

Ideally, the company performing the audit has broad and deep experience (as line managers and as consultants) in each of the following areas:

  • Brand research
  • Brand strategy & positioning
  • Brand identity standards and systems
  • Brand advertising
  • Organization design

Audits will vary from company to company based upon the company’s unique needs, organizational complexity, marketing competency and other factors. Given the large amount of work, to complete the audit in a reasonable period of time, the audit team should consist of at least three people. The more marketing experience each team member has, the better.

Audit costs may vary from a low of $150,000 to more than $1,000,000 depending on the global reach of the business, complexity of the brand and product structure, amount of proprietary research required, project’s duration, number of people assigned, audit firm’s profit margin and billing rate, etc. If an audit company provides an estimate much lower than that, it indicates a lack of understanding of the scope and complexity of this type of project.

The project may last anywhere from a month (fast track with concentrated interviews and little to no additional research) to six months.

Weaknesses to look out for in self-proclaimed brand auditors:

  • Strong in other areas of marketing (advertising, promotion, etc.), but not brand management
  • Primary foci are brand research, strategy and positioning, but little knowledge of how to design an organization to deliver upon the brand promise
  • Strong knowledge of brand management but little understanding of organization design
  • Lack brand research experience

A brand audit should identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the following areas:

  • Brand strategy and positioning
  • Brand equity
  • Leveraging the brand for business growth
  • Capacity of the organization to manage and market the brand effectively
  • Alignment of the organization’s structure and systems to deliver upon the brand’s promise

Bottom line questions (that a strong brand auditor will attempt to answer):

  • Does this company have a profound understanding of its consumers?
  • Is the brand well positioned in its marketplace? Does it own a relevant and compelling point of difference?
  • Do the leaders of this company have a vision for their brand(s)?
  • Is this company’s marketing staff competent?
  • Is the organization mobilized to deliver upon its brand’s promise?
  • Does the corporate culture reinforce the brand essence, promise and personality?
  • Are the brand identity standards and systems simple, robust and powerful?
  • Does this organization accurately and consistently reinforce its brand’s identity and positioning in internal and external communication?
  • Does the brand create an emotional connection with its consumers?

Email us for more about how The Blake Project’s brand audit can benefit your organization.

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