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Making it Count: Bringing KPIs to the function

How Audi uses real-time KPIs to steer communication​

Audi, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, is renowned as one of the leading German car brands in the premium segment. With a global presence, Audi operates nine production facilities across the world, contributing to its remarkable success.

In its journey toward vehicle electrification, Audi announced the goals to become a sustainable, social, and technological leader by 2030, as well as produce only electric cars by 2026.

In 2015 Audi’s reputation was hit hard by the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal, which resulted in years of extremely critical media coverage.

In order to identify the specific business areas that suffered adverse effects, Audi recognized the importance of actively engaging with stakeholders. By listening attentively to their perspectives, Audi gained valuable insights into the impact on the company’s reputation and, consequently, the necessary steps to rebuild trust.

Red Audi Car

Establishment of a Strategic Communication Framework

In 2019 the company conducted a comprehensive reputation survey, targeting its primary stakeholders – the informed general public, employees, journalists, and analysts. 

The initial results were shocking – 5 out of 8 reputation dimensions indicated a problem area. Audi was determined to turn these negative insights into a communicative comeback. 

Based on the reputation analysis Audi developed its first-ever overarching communication strategy and a long-term narrative. The brand gave birth to its Focus Stories and established the Strategy Circle to set the strategic communication framework on an annual basis.

At the center of this process is a deep outside-in and inside-out -analytic reality check. Based on these insights, Audi derives and sets goals, objectives, and KPIs, tracked and discussed every month.

The Outside-in perspective focuses on the following key business inquiries:
  • How did we perform?
  • Did we reach our goals?
  • Did we communicate our strategic topics?
  • What are our stakeholders’ opinions and expectations?
  • What are trends and challenges, not only for Audi, but for the whole industry?
The Inside-out perspective focuses on the stories of the business:
  • What are potential topics from our corporate strategy?
  • What are product or feature highlights within the next year?

Audi's KPI Dashboard: Putting together the pieces

With the strategic framework established, the primary objective was to ensure efficient communication management. Recognizing the need for continuous tracking of objectives, Audi sought an integrated data approach.

The ultimate aim was to comprehensively analyze the entire communication process, encompassing output, outcome, and impact.

Output

The framework begins by assessing whether the investment in activities was appropriate. Were the relevant topics and assets given due attention? Did the team employ the correct communication channels?

Outcome

Audi measures this in the form of media performance, aiming to find out how many people are reached in social or traditional media, internally, externally, or through owned channels.

Impact

The findings revealed that product-related communication was performing satisfactorily; however, there was a need to enhance the impact of corporate messages.

Audi recognized that having a strong media presence alone does not guarantee alignment with target groups or the ability to shape stakeholders’ perceptions. 

They identified the importance of measuring real-time impact, leading to their collaboration with Caliber in 2021.

Utilization of impact measurement to evaluate and track progress in achieving the set communication objectives

Audi and Caliber customized the Caliber real-time tracker (RTT) to align with Audi’s specific focus topics by incorporating custom attributes.

Currently, Audi conducts approximately 1500 interviews per week and integrates media analysis with real-time data on stakeholder perceptions.

After collecting a large number of data points on standard and custom attributes, Audi uses the insights – collected through standard and custom attributes – to understand its current performance and based on this evaluation, Audi sets specific targets to be assessed on a monthly basis.

As an example, one of Audi’s focus areas is to lead mobility into a sustainable future.

To see whether this message resonates with the general public, Audi has defined a target for the custom Environment Score (shown in the RTT) to be achieved by the end of 2023.

Each month, the progress is evaluated within a strategic meeting, which is aimed at assessing, adjusting, discussing responses, and allocating resources toward achieving this goal.

During the monthly meetings, the Audi team actively uses the following functionalities of the Caliber RTT to analyze the reputation data: 

  • Development View
To see how custom, reputation, brand, and other attributes are developing over time.
 
  • Event and Campaign Feature
To understand the impact events and campaigns had or did not have on specific reputation dimensions.
 
  • Benchmark function within the Development View
To identify if Audi has a competitive advantage in certain areas compared to their benchmarks.
 
  • Automated monthly reports, including a page on KPI targets
To evaluate the alignment between score targets and actual results, as well as identify KPIs requiring specific action by conducting periodic measurements throughout the year.

Conclusion

The implementation of the global multi-market cross-stakeholder tracking solution has brought enhanced efficiency and alignment to Audi’s communication functions.

It enables Audi to allocate budgets based on impact and facilitates the development of brand activities that actively engage stakeholders in the company’s pursuit of its new purpose.

This solution has proven valuable in assessing the reputational impact of Audi’s announcements, external events, and media coverage.

It also aids in making informed decisions on how to respond or proactively design future strategies.

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