A Short Introduction to the Steps of the Corporate Identity Audit

Corporate design is an instrument for transformation and, at the same time, a guarantee of continuing corporate recognition (Van Cauwenberge, 2008). And that could be developed only if the proper corporate identity audit has been made.

A corporate identity audit has been developed in 9 steps. These 9 steps are: + step 1: select the audit team; + step 2: asses key elements in the corporate identity; + step 3: determine who should be interviewed; + step 4: conduct audit interviews; + step 5: audit corporate identity factors; + step 6: summarize salient points; + step 7: determine the options for change; + step 8: present the audit results; + step 9: use the audit data to improve the corporate identity (Ollins and Selame, 2002).

The scheme presenting Corporate Identity Audit in 9 steps

If the corporate identity audit process is to be taken as important or strategic issue it must have enough influence. In the first step is good to know that audit team may consist of individual with expertise in sales and marketing, communications, operations, construction management, engineering and design. The main task is to prepare a written brief that describes the task and should be signed by chief executive officer (Ollins and Selame, 2002).

Even before taking the corporate identity audit, the senior management should be clear about the context in which that identity operates. This will be of help to make the subsequent identity audit. Therefore in the second step the audit team should consider the areas in which corporate identity manifests itself (Ollins and Selame, 2002). We already defined the corporate identity as being made from corporate communication, corporate behaviour and corporate design. Some define corporate design more in detail as corporate product and services and corporate environments (Ollins and Selame, 2002, p. 4). The main point of the step two is to found out what kind of identity the corporation has. Is that a monolithic or branded house, or are we dealing branded identity or house brands, or are we in between be that with endorsed identity or subbrands. The models are a few, one of the most influential was presented in the post Why is the brand architecture needed?. Easier version of Corporate vs. Line branding is also available.

In the third step it is important to asses the consensus view of the organization internally and externally. Even if it’s not possible to select a statistically significant sample, like that is sometimes the case in very large organizations, this shouldn’t stop the audit team from doing the interviews. And the second goal is to find out if there are any significant discrepancies between internal and external perceptions. And finally this step is excellent opportunity to uncover real or political issues that may either enhance or inhibit the acceptance or implementation of corporate identity program (Ollins and Selame, 2002).

In the step four, five and six the audit team is to do the prepared in the first three steps. In the fourth step, conducting the audit interviews the main objective will be: + how much people know about the corporation and business; + what other opinions or judgements people attach to their knowledge of the organization; + how clear and consistent these opinions or judgements are; and + how far those opinions and judgements vary from the identity which senior mismanagement wish to project (Ollins and Selame, 2002, p. 25).

In the fifth step the audit team need to asses all corporate identity elements. Be that product, services and/or environments. The check list of corporate design should be made.  And some questions should be answered, like: + is there a graphics standard program (or corporate identity manual) in place for the current corporate identity program?; + consistency of design; + are there ways to reduce costs of elements that constitute the corporate identity, such as eliminating duplicate communications, consolidating sizes, increasing volume orders, new ways to use technology…; + would be implementing the corporate identity at once rise the costs as in the steps?. (Ollins and Selame, 2002, p. 33-34). According to different field, questions on corporate communication and corporate behaviour will have to be made (Ollins and Selame, 2002, p. 36-37).

Very often, in the sixth step, certain critical and consistent points will emerge. That is the opportunity for the auditors to uncover those important issues and build a consensus within the organization (Ollins and Selame, 2002, p. 15).

And in the last three steps the audit team has to explore the differences between hot the company is perceived and how it would like to be perceived. It should effectively present the audit results. In the last step the auditors should provide ideas for using corporate identity as a powerful management tool if the identity is to be managed actively and effectively (Ollins and Selame, 2002, p. 16).

Ollins, Wally and Selame Elinor. 2002. The Corporate Identity Audit. Pearson Education. 130 p.
Van Cauwenberge, Rennat. 2008. Corporate design instrument for change. In a transition, the corporate design should fit the new mental attitude in de Bruijne A.; P Brandt, Hans; de Boer, Sieds. (ed) 2008. Identity 2.0. Bis Publishers. 229 p.

Marko Savić
I’m exploring & researching the inter-dependence of the business model innovation with design thinking. You may wish to hire me as a Business Design Coach or Senior Lecturer in Design Management or as a Key-Note Speaker at your next event.

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