While riding the streetcar recently, I noticed two ads placed side-by-side that looked as though they were from the same organization. Education en langue francaise en Ontario and Le Centre francophone de Toronto both had prominently used their logos – stylized human figures holding their arms – as a focal point of their ads. Upon closer inspection and a quick internet search, I found out that the former group was set up by the Ontario government to provide information and encourage enrollment in French language schools in the province, the latter is a not-for-profit organization that assist francophone’s who come to live in Toronto. Two different organizations, two different mandates, two different target audiences… two very similar brand identities.
Having looking two brand identities that look similar is not a new issue as this insightful post on the LOGODESIGNLOVE blog explains. But in an age where tens of thousands of existing logos are now easily searchable, by key words and concepts, on sites such as logolounge.com as a profession we need to work harder to ensure what we are proposing in unique and differentiated. When timelines are tight, and budgets even tighter, conducting a competitive audit before developing a new brand identity if often the step that gets skipped. In many cases this is a false economy, as the learnings that come out of the audit help to focus the development process and reduce the chance of unwelcome surprises along the way
While the breadth and depth of audits can vary widely, at the core of every audit should be a review of the brands, key messages and identities of organizations that are in similar businesses or sectors. Positioning and identifying an organization in a way distinct from it peer group is more and more important as consumers are looking for a quick understanding of the mission or the unique selling proposition of your brand is a vast sea of brands.