Note: most of the small and medium-sized enterprises face identity crises; they do not know how to look at themselves, to stand out, to tell their audience who they are and what are the deep reasons for their presence in the market. These are some of the reasons for which we do not witness their development and, most of all, we cannot take pride in too many successful national brands.
Who could whisper to their mind “We’re becoming stronger and stronger!,” to make them state the same a thousand times louder, so that they grow driven by the power of their business mission, vision and values? To do this, they should know how to build and manage their own corporate brand, and how to think strategically, making their brand platform and strategy valuable beacons in fighting the stormy waters of the competitive ocean.
In this context, the brand audit is the key to success. It can provide you with the crucial elements and indicators for defining your own corporate or product ego. The audit is the decisive step towards your building brand strategy. Thus, you will let people know the mission, vision and values embedded in your brand’s essence (how to define them for your consumers, clients, suppliers, partners, local communities, for the opinion leaders and your employees). From this point, the road towards the construction of your brand architecture (the organization of your brand portfolio, the roles of the brands, the relations between them, and the relations with the products they represent) is not too long.
The brand audit includes investigations and analysis aiming at strategic recommendations. It starts from an internal research, focused on the company’s background (how it developed, who were its representative figures in the past), followed by a comprehensive sequence of interviews inside and outside the company. The internal interviews (that may exceed 100 interviews in a big company) include questions about the company’s identity, management, organizational culture, etc., being addresses to employees from all company departments.
The external interviews involve the suppliers, customers, competitors, partners, journalists, etc., in order to match a representative sampling. The goal is to find how much these people know about the company’s brand, size, profitability, products, services, organizational capacity, their opinion on the company’s strengths and weaknesses and how they are reflected in people’s, attitudes towards and perception of the company.
The next step consists of three auditing forms:
- communication auditing (the company’s system of communication to the internal and external audiences);
- behavioural auditing (internal – human resources management, organizational culture; external – conduct in relation to partners, customers and others);
- visual or design auditing.
The last audit aims at analysing how various parts of the organisation present themselves in terms of graphical elements, products and physical environment. We collect and analyse data in terms of coherence, consistency and costs of buildings, spaces, showroom, stores and offices, etc. out of the entire business of the company.
This process is followed by the data analysis and findings, leading to a set of recommendations to be applied by the board. Most of the times, the brand auditing leads to rebranding or to impactful management decisions, in order to use the company’s strengths: to develop a central idea reflecting its personality, and a vision that emphasizes its purpose and help it gain a leading market position. This vision/central idea should form the grounds for the development of the entire identity programme.
This is the road to success and development, if we know how to best use our brand resources and manage them for a sustainable profitability.
CEO Unity Group