Brian Penry PenryPosts are the musings of designer, writer, artist and branding expert, Brian Penry. His posts are offered in hopes of amusing, enlightening, sparking spirited debate and disrupting the status quo—as well as those intrepid souls who dare to read them. Note: Mr. Penry does not ‘blog’, that being a word most foul—and an activity in which he refuses to engage [please read Better Uses For The Word, “Blog”].


Photo: Sandy Connolly

Behold The Brand Audit

One of the true tests of a healthy, brave and enduring brand.

I recommend periodic Brand Audits, or check-ups—just as one regularly sees their health practitioner of choice, or their mechanic, to keep their car running well.

Yet, the mere mention of what some fear would invite doom is often met with nervously hurried mutterings such as, “We already have a logo”—or, “Our brand’s well-established, but thanks anyway.” It’s amazing how uncomfortable this subject can make people feel about their brands!

Many of us live in ‘Brand Denial’, placating ourselves with the false belief that our brands are bullet-proof—impervious to Trojan Horses, rotting with age from the inside out, or becoming petrified forests of irrelevance. Deluding yourself is easy, thinking just because business is relatively good, your brand must be up to snuff. My favorite excuse for avoiding the brand introspection that so many apparently dread is, “We just redid our branding”—as if it were a one-time deal, and not the living, breathing organism and ongoing process that branding is.

The mere thought of scrutinizing one’s own brand strikes horror in the hearts of many—tantamount to an IRS audit. Yet the truth is, well-run Brand Audits can be painless not to mention invaluable experiences with positive outcomes.

Sometimes referred to as an ‘Internal’ Brand Audit, the basic idea is to identify weaknesses before someone else does—such as your competitors, or worse: your customers. However, I find the term, ‘Internal’ (borrowed from the financial world) to be problematic. First, it would seem to imply that such audits can be conducted internally, i.e. by management or employees rather than independently, by brand professionals—as only they should. Secondly, any thorough, comprehensive ‘internal’ audit almost invariably involves researching external perspectives, as well—those of clients/customers, vendors, strategic partners, industry allies, community leaders, potential prospects, etc.. Besides, no one’s ever going to conduct an ‘external’ Brand Audit in the unwelcome manner that government agencies would your financials—thus, the superfluous nature of ‘internal’.

No matter how fantastic your overall branding, customer relations, branded products and services—something somewhere in the vast realm of your brand culture can always be improved. Perhaps it’s a relatively small aspect of your brand cosmetics. On the other hand, your customer service may be in need of tweaking—an issue with far greater potential for tarnishing your brand. And that’s just skimming the surface of how an effective Brand Audit evidences flaws needing attention throughout your brand, and in turn, in every nook and cranny of your business or organization’s operations.

Perhaps most importantly, a Brand Audit can be a powerful tool for assessing your overall operations—a critically important point often lost on even the most astute among us. There are many ways in which the well-conducted Brand Audit reveals and pinpoints weak links. Once strengthened, a healthier brand can help ensure that your business or organization is as high-performing as possible—and optimally positioned for growth and new opportunities.

Take heart—fear not the Brand Audit. Make it a close ally and a frequent visitor in your professional life by hosting Brand Audits every other year. It doesn’t always have to be a full physical—ideally, a thorough, annual check-up can do wonders for maintaining your brand’s health and well being—and in turn, yours.

Consult the brand healthcare specialists at Penry Creative—make an appointment soon. It’s painless—no needles, annoying tongue depressors, or waiting—and we never look at your books, ever! We offer uncompromising pediatric, adult and geriatric care for start-ups through mature brands.