I was recently asked what’s involved in auditing the communications of a printing company. There are many aspects to an audit but here are five that would be included. These would also apply to a services firm or a product manufacturer:

1. Brand Strategy: Determine if there is a strong and cohesive “Brand Strategy” being used throughout all company brand messaging, marketing programs and corporate communications including publicity = High Score; or is there a large number of seemingly disconnected marketing promotions that are clearly not tied together by one overall strategy = Low Score.

2. Brand Identity: Determine if there is a strong and cohesive “Brand Identity and Tone” being used throughout all marketing communications (in all media) including Print, Internet, Web Marketing, Literature, E-Mailings, and related sales promotions = High Score; or is there a series of disconnected marketing items that are clearly not tied together by one overall strategy = Low Score.

3. Brand Strength: Determine how well the brand is being differentiated from its competition based upon the brand’s inherent strengths and weaknesses. How well are the brand strengths being communicated? Is the brand being reinvigorated daily in a clear and effective manner = High Score; or are there more effective and obvious ways to tell the brand story = Low Score.

4. Brand Reach: How well is the brand being marketed throughout its markets? Effective coverage = High Score; Little coverage and relying heavily upon sales representatives = Low Score.

5. ROI (Return On Investment) What process does the company use to gather marketing intelligence about its marketing expenditures to determine its overall return of these investments? Fair and balanced systematic approach = High Score; No system to gather information = Low Score.

An annual communication audit is the minimum requirement for ensuring that a brand strategy and marketing program is optimized throughout the year. Many companies do not include an audit as part of their overall marketing program and thereby miss opportunities to improve their brand’s effectiveness.