Why brand audits make good sense

I have learned over the years that not all branding is equal — or even positive.

For many organisations — even large, well-established ones — the myriad manifestations of their brand (from signage, to uniforms, to business cards, to the words and tone used by a receptionist) can communicate an undesirably wide range of messages.

Some of those messages are positive and ‘on brand’, others are not, and this is why I audit brands as well as design them.

A great brand should positively serve a business, just like any other business asset. But in most organisations there is no one qualified to determine the current value of the organisation’s brand. I perform brand audits to provide clients with an expert opinion — and a fresh and independent perspective — on the value they are receiving from their branding.

Problems take many forms. Often it is brand elements at cross-purposes. Sometimes it is as simple as a poorly conceived and designed logo, but more often it is the lack of rules and coherency around the use of a logo. And sometimes the problem is that important brand elements, such as signage, simply don’t exist.

For example, several of years ago I performed a brand audit for Otago University. While their printed material and website were well looked after and consistent, it became clear the same could not be said for their way-finding and signage system. There was no standard, each campus had different designs, or there was no signage at all.

It was the norm for students (and other campus visitors) to get lost and have to ask for directions. I concluded the organisation needed a new way-finding system, one for all campuses. This system now directs students and others around without the previous anxiety, and the university’s logo, which features on the signage, has lifted the university’s profile.

I urge you to consider a brand audit for your organisation. It really does make good sense.

Posted in Information design, Information strategy.

Jeroen ten Berge

Originally from the Netherlands but now living in Wellington, New Zealand, Jeroen is the chief designer at Nakedize.