Organizational challenges are often the hidden saboteurs that stop firms from achieving relevance in marketing. That's because they place constraints on innovation and on the adoption of technology and best-practices, or they limit the manpower or skills required to create compelling campaigns and programs.

Recognize that successful marketing is entrenched in a well-defined brand and marketing framework that encourages innovation, albeit against a backdrop of meaningful corporate control.

Accordingly, a brand audit enables a firm to lay a solid foundation for management and oversight.

The following approach to brand auditing is based on a robust audit methodology that focuses on seven key areas of marketing capability and can be used to assess the marketing activities of any firm.

  1. Do we have alignment? A firm's visions, goals, and objectives need to align across divisions and functions, and permeate into its daily tactical operations. Where possible, firms need to align with their suppliers and customers to maintain consistency of purpose.
  2. Where is the value? What is it that makes your brand valuable in the hearts and minds of your customers, suppliers, investors, and the local community? What do you stand for?
  3. What's coming next? Firms that don't innovate... die. How are you managing the evolution of the customer experience? Remaining relevant and central to customers' hearts and minds is the central focus of any good chief marketing officer.
  4. Managing insight. Knowledge is a powerful asset. How do you gather and disseminate information to the areas of the business that need it most? What are the opportunities open to your marketing team, how are they integrated into the mix, and who is best suited to help you succeed? How are you engaging your customers in the process of building management insight?
  5. Engaging customers in the firm's creative process. Ownership of the customer is everyone's responsibility. Customers must be engaged in the creative and delivery process of the business to maximize the experiential opportunities.
  6. Telling the stories. The conversations that occur at all levels in the company need to be consistently aligned with the values and mission of the business. One of the biggest problems facing most firms is the multiplicity of differing stories heard in the public arena.
  7. Executing the plan. It is the role of the entire business to jointly create, support, and deliver the plan. A good audit will review the processes for engaging and including the whole organization in the marketing plan.

Developing a robust auditing approach will provide an excellent baseline against which significant improvement and enhancement of a firm's marketing can be undertaken.

Employing a more-informed management approach to brand and marketing will give your business the capacity to perform way above its current level.

What would you say if someone told you that you could have an additional 10% in your marketing budget? An audit has the potential to find that 10%. An audit culture can help a company refine its business practices and improve its productivity and profitability.

The investment required to conduct a thorough audit should be made with the understanding that most audits pay for themselves in the insight they uncover.

My experience confirms that the inefficiencies and redundancies that an audit reveals can be eliminated, and the savings normally exceed the amount required to conduct the audit in the first place.

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Brett Milne is managing director at Synnovate (