Thursday, 25 February 2010

Brand Audits

Ask any oil company or other chain store regarding the state of their network and you would be surprised to hear how little they really know especially when the network in question spreads across different continents and will include many decades of acquisitions, sales, re-brands, refurbishments further complicated by dealer owned sites, company owned sites and co branded sites.For this reason brand auditing is a necessary activity if a brand is to be effectively managed.

With larger constantly evolving networks all that is practical within a short space of time is a series of snapshots containing typical cross sections. As a designer commissioned to undertake remedial work, the prime fucntion of a brand audit is to see at first hand the good the bad and the ugly. There are many other secondary functions including the opportunity to get to know the in house brand managers, engineers, dealers and suppliers with whom you will be dealing with for the next few months / years. Let's not forget that navigating political minefields is all part of a brand/design consultants job! It's amazing how much you can glean about the real issues during informal discussions whilst travelling with the host client. Other secondary benefits of frequenting actual sites is the creative spark that can result as opposed to just brainstorming within the confines of the studio.

An audit is nothing without a conclusion and therefore a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis is required to summarise the findings. Certain findings within an analysis may seem like telling a client the time with their own watch however within a big organisation it is frequently necessary for an outside neutral consultant to achieve a consensus view.

Where a brand / design intervention has been decided upon designers would at least participate within an auditing exercise personally for the above reasons however where remedial work is not necessarily the outcome there also exist dedicated brand auditors such as newly set up 'The Brand Scout' which have in the past given the likes of Shell and Chevron the necessary insight to make more valued judgements on how to proceed.

David Davis
February 2010 © Minale Tattersfield
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