Communications Audit: Reinforcing Your Key Brand Messages

Benefits of a Communications Audit

A communications audit will discover how consistently your college or university is projecting a brand identity and key brand messages to external audiences.

  • Your website is the first place that many people will experience your key brand message.
  • Routine print and email communications and social media content must reflect and reinforce the brand presence started on your website.
  • Special publications from business checks to commencement programs to event invitations can help or hinder your communications strategy.

The audit outline

Consistency among offices and consistency over time play a significant role in helping to build your brand identity. I examine your print and electronic communications for the past 6 to 12 months from each office producing them to discover how key brand elements are being communicated to the outside world and to people who work and study at your school.

Your report will cover the following points:

  • Use of logos or name plates.
  • Use of key brand messages and positioning statements, including tag lines.
  • Use of statistics for enrollment, admission criteria, academic programs, athletic programs, student activities, and similar areas.
  • Integration of brand design elements between print and electronic communications.

Your audit report will note in detail significant situations where key brand messages and statistics conflict with one another and will identify unused opportunities to take better advantage of key brand elements.

During a campus visit at the start of the project, interviews are held individually or in small groups with stakeholders in the communication process and people with a special interest in your brand identity. During a campus visit at the end of the project, presentation and discussion of the results takes place. As wide an audience as is practical and consistent with your practices is recommended. More than one presentation can be scheduled within the parameters of the visit day outlined below.

What is reviewed in the audit?

The following items most often are included in a communications audit:

  • Admissions: (1) current view book, (2) current travel piece used at college fairs and high school visits, (3) search piece if this is different from the travel piece. Other print publications used to recruit graduate students (the initial inquiry response piece) are included here if this is done from the admissions office.
  • News Office: Press releases from the past 6 months. If these are available online, printed copies are not necessary.
  • Alumni: Two most recent magazines and/or newsletters sent to alumni and friends.
  • Business office: Blank purchase order/invoice; void college check.
  • Advancement: The basic publication or document that this office uses to introduce itself to potential friends of the college. Any other publications used to support specific public relations or fund-raising activities.
  • Athletics: Sports programs given to people attending home athletic events.
  • President’s Office: The most recent annual report or similar document from the president’s office or the advancement office. Any newsletters or other regular communications sent from the president to external audiences.
  • Academic: The most recent Commencement program. Individual primary publications (first response to an inquiry) for graduate programs if these are not included under the admissions section.
  • Website: Use and consistency of branding messages on up to 10 top level pages, including primary academic divisions and the offices above. Any regular electronic publications sent from offices other than the admissions office to external audiences by the primary offices above.
  • Miscellaneous: (1) Copy of a business card from President, Admissions, Alumni staff, Athletics, Development. Faculty if used. (2) Copies of letterhead and regular envelopes used by each of the offices listed here. Academic departments are included if these are different from regular college letterhead.

Take the first step

To review how a Communications Audit can strengthen your brand identity, call me at 248-766-6425 or contact me by email at bob@bobjohnsonconsulting.com.