“How To….” Audit Your Brand

Nadine Slama is currently studying her AGSM MBA at the Australian School of Business. She recently took the “Integrated Marketing Communication” course and has written a guest blog post related to an assignment undertaken. This assignment was to conduct a brand audit of Penfolds, an Australian wine producer.

Brand auditing on a small budget: Process, Framework and Tools used for an analysis of Penfolds

We wanted to analyse Penfolds to understand more about perceptions of their brand. Applying the frameworks of Hatch & Schultz (2008) and Kapferer (1997) we started to:

  • Decode the brand identity of Penfolds – what Penfolds truly represents and stands for from the brand owner’s perspective, and
  • Understand the brand image – the customer perception about what Penfolds represents.

Figure 1 - Brand Audit

The goal of the Brand and Product Management is to create as much overlap between image and identity as possible. By analysing differences between Penfolds’ identity and image we were able to identify problems the brand and product faces and to develop recommendations for improvements.

But back to the start:

How do you decode your brand identity?

When you are inside the company this should be relatively straight forward, but still there are companies who have difficulties explaining the identity of their brand. The Kapferer brand identity prism (Kapferer, 1997) helps to take a structured approach:

Figure 2 - Brand Audit

The six dimensions of the brand identity are:

  • Physique: the tangible elements of the brand
  • Personality: the kind of person it would be if it were human
  • Culture: the set of values feeding the brand’s inspiration
  • Relationship: how a brand interacts with its customers
  • Reflection: the way others see the brand’s users
  • Self-Image: the way consumers see themselves

As we had to decode the Penfolds’ brand identity from outside the company we used several information sources (website, hotline, advertising, product packaging) and focused on what Penfolds wants to tell us, instead of what we understand from the communication (which would be the brand image).

It was interesting that the message conveyed by the various sources was actually quite different. On the one hand, Penfolds’ advertisements carry the slogan “To those who do things for love not money” and it seems that Penfolds wants to communicate a very exclusive, sophisticated, quality brand. On the other hand, you reach “Foster’s beverages” when you call the service hotline and they could not provide any information material (except the homepage) about Penfolds products and history.

This was one of the major take-aways of the project:

Product management cannot be limited to the tangibles. Customer service, advertisement, information about the product… all customer touch points need to be aligned in order to create a consistent message.

How do you get data about your brand image with a small budget?

The brand image analysis was done in two steps:

The first step was a qualitative survey in form of individual interviews. The purpose was to test a variety of associations that potential customers have about the Penfolds brand from a standalone point of view and also in comparison with other famous Australian wine brands. The qualitative survey was designed to elicit frank, open, and detailed opinions about Penfolds that would allow us to determine which associations were particularly common and worth further investigation in the quantitative survey. We used projective techniques which are unstructured, indirect forms of questioning that encourage respondents to project their underlying beliefs and attitudes. Examples are:

  • Association technique – associate Penfolds with situations (e.g. barbecue, formal dinner, celebration), animals or celebrities,
  • Third-person-technique – what would your boss think if you would serve Penfolds at a dinner, and
  • Construction technique – let the respondent tell a story about a party where Penfolds is served (time of day, age of guests, formal/casual environment etc.).

Second, a quantitative survey: In order to understand the strength of customer’s associations the quantitative survey was constructed using the most commonly recurring associations that were observed in the qualitative survey. In addition, we specifically addressed issues where identity and image did not seem to overlap. The survey was an online questionnaire using survey monkey and was distributed via email and twitter.

Both surveys were certainly not representative in terms of sample size and diversity of the sample, but it was still amazing how quickly you could get a rough idea about what people think about a brand – without incurring any costs.

Implications for product marketers

Take-aways from the brand image analysis were:

  • Use easy tools like the online questionnaire to get feedback from a relatively large group of customers to get a first idea of their opinion.
  • Test questionnaires with small numbers before sending them out to make sure that the generated data are useful for your interpretation.
  • Try to ask your customers directly what they would do if they were product manager. By doing this improvement areas often become obvious and you sometimes even get very creative ideas.

Your thoughts and opinions

Do you have other examples/ideas how a marketing/product/brand manager could get a first idea about the customer’s perception of the brand/products without using many resources?What tools, like survey monkey have you used and what has your experience with these been like?