Using the competitive audit

Present audit at the end of the research phase.
Use learning to develop new brand and positioning strategy.
Use audit to inform the design process.
Consider meaning, shape, color, form, and content that the competition does not use.
Use audit when presenting new brand identity strategies to demonstrate differentiation.

Understanding the competition

Who are they?
What do their brands stand for?
What markets/audiences do they serve?
What advantages (strengths) do they have?
What disadvantages (weaknesses) do they have?
What are their modes of selling and cultivating customers/clients?
How do they position themselves?
How do they characterize their customers/clients?
What are their key messages?
What is their financial condition?
How much market share do they hold?
How do they use brand identity to leverage success?
What do they look and feel like?

Process: Competitive Audit

Identify competitors

Who are leading competitors?
Who most closely resembles the client, and in what ways?
Which companies compete indirectly?

Gather information/research

List information needed.
Examine existing research and materials.
Determine if additional research is required.
Consider interviews, focus groups, online surveys.

Determine positioning

Examine competitive positioning.
Identify features/benefits.
Identity strengths/weaknesses.
Examine brand personality.

Identify key messages

Mission
Tagline
Descriptors
Themes from advertising and collaterals

Examine visual identity

Symbols
Meaning
Shape
Color
Typography

Document identity

Identity signatures
Marketing collateral materials and website
Sales and promotional tools
Brand architecture
Signage

Examine naming strategy

Core brand name
Naming system for products and services
Descriptors and domains

Examine brand hierarchy

What type of brand architecture?
How integrated or independent is the core brand in relation to subsidiaries or sub-brands?
How are the products and services organized?

Experience the competition

Navigate websites.
Visit shops and offices.
Purchase and use products.
Use services.
Listen to a sales pitch.
Call customer service.

Synthesize learnings

Make conclusions.
Start seeing opportunities.
Organize presentation.