What is your brand? Do you have one? Do you think you have a brand, but your customers or ideal audience don’t know about it? These are the types of questions you should be able to answer after conducting a brand audit.
In this article I'll cover seven steps for conducting a brand audit:
But first we'll dive into what a brand audit is and why it's important. Let's get started!
What is a brand audit?
A brand audit is a check-up on how your brand is performing in the marketplace. It allows you to see how your business, products, services, or advertising is stacking up against the competition. Overall, a brand audit will tell you how much of an impression you’ve made on your customer base.
Branding is a long-term marketing strategy. It takes years of consistency to penetrate a market effectively and profitably. You should make bold goals but always maintain a sense of realism about how achievable those goals are.
Don’t expect to achieve total market penetration within six months on a shoestring budget. But you can make great strides by implementing a solid marketing plan that fits your budget and works toward achieving your overall goals.
Generally speaking, a marketing plan is designed to be implemented and adapted throughout the year to achieve the goals you’ve established. So think about your goals (new product development, sales quotas, increased production, etc.) on a quarterly or annual basis. This should give you enough data to make analytical decisions about projected sales and pivots in the marketplace.
Want to learn more about what goes into your businesses brand? Read about the Branding Bullseye! What you need to build a targeted brand that draws in the right customers.
And So You Have A Brand New Logo...Now What? to learn what you should do with your logo now that you have it.
Why is a brand audit important?
Why should you conduct a brand audit? Think of it as a way to give your business its annual physical! It’s wise to stay ahead of issues that could develop if you ignore your company’s market health. What should you be looking at as you conduct your brand audit?
First, let’s look at your company's Internal Branding. This would include your mission, vision, goals, and company culture. Most businesses wouldn’t think that this matters much to the public, but it’s vital that these bits are in place and functioning.
Your mission and vision should actively influence your day-to-day work and any goals that you’re setting for sales or product development. If they’re not, maybe it’s time to realign your goals or rewrite your mission.
Secondly, focus on your External Branding. This includes your logo, advertising, messaging, public relations, website visuals and content, social media posts and responses, email marketing, as well as any contact you have with customers, face-to-face, over the phone, or via email.
Your external brand is what people see about your company. You can control how people view you by consistently using the same messaging, colors, fonts, and other visuals, such as your logo and your style of photography.
Finally, you should review your Customer Experience. This takes place throughout the sales process, within customer support and follow-up. How a person experiences your company and products is why they choose to become a return customer or give you a one-star rating on google.
How to conduct a brand audit.
There are outside companies that you can hire to conduct your brand audit for you. They gather all of your materials, help you identify your goals, and conduct surveys on your behalf. If you’re a large company with a broad audience, then this might be the way to go.
But if you’re a smaller shop with a limited budget, you can easily complete a basic brand audit yourself. Here are the steps you need to take to conduct a brand audit.
1. Know what you’re measuring
Before you get too far into the weeds with your audit, you should identify the goals and information you’re trying to measure. If you have a marketing plan in place, know what goals you’re trying to assess.
What?! You don’t have a marketing plan? Shame, shame! But not all’s lost. Think hard about what you would like to accomplish for the upcoming year. Develop a goal to keep in mind while you’re reviewing your current materials. It’ll also help you organize a plan to put into place for the next year!
2. Assess your external marketing materials
Review all the materials that you’ve developed to appeal to customers. Look at your logo, colors, fonts, and any graphics you’ve used.
Are they consistent?
Compare your printed materials like brochures, fliers, specifications sheets, catalogs, letterhead, and business cards.
Do they have the same look, feel, and messaging?
Take a look at your online presence within your website, social media, emails, and newsletters.
Do the visuals and messaging fit with your printed pieces?
Gather as many of these things together as possible. This will allow you to see your items side-by-side and help you identify inconsistencies, errors, or updates that need to be made.
You should also take this time to establish how effective these marketing pieces are and decide if they are worth continuing or if you can use them more effectively.
3. Review your website
View the analytics on your website. If you’re using something like Squarespace or Wix, they provide you with basic data on the number of visitors, time spent on the site, geolocation, and pages visited.
Don’t have analytics installed on your site? You should! It’ll provide you important information about how your website performs. I recommend Google Analytics. Bonus: it’s free.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, I recommend hiring someone. It involves plugins and bits of code, so it’s not something everyone can do. But it’s crucial information that can help you implement positive changes with data instead of shooting darts in the dark.
You should do it sooner rather than later, though. These types of software track data beginning the moment the code is inserted into the site. It cannot recover anything that has happened prior to its implementation.
The most important piece of information you’ll get from your analytics data is whether your site is converting. What’s a conversion? A conversion happens when a goal for your site has been completed. This could be someone completing your contact form, downloading a brochure, or making a purchase.
You’ll want to look at the data that says how people are using your site.
Where are people entering your site from (search engines, social media, referral from another site, advertisements)
How many pages do users visit on average?
How long does the average user stay on the site?
What location in the world your users live in?
Does the user convert (completes form, download, or purchases)?
Does the user start to convert but abandons the page (starts the form but doesn’t complete or abandoned carts)?
4. Review social media data
Look at the data provided by your social media accounts to examine how well your social media marketing is working.
Are your followers interacting with your posts?
Have your posts led to sales?
Have your posts led to increased awareness and market share?
Compare month over month data to see if there are any trends you can take advantage of. If you feel that a channel isn’t performing as well as you’d like, develop a new plan or decide if it’s time to eliminate it.
5. Survey the public
Conducting public surveys is the most challenging portion of your brand audit that you can complete yourself. But it’s great information if you can suss it out.
Several free platforms allow you to create email surveys, which is likely the easiest way to get customer feedback. I recommend Survey Monkey. Or you could develop a form on your website and send people there. Either way, you’ll be collecting information that can help with your brand, product development, and customer service.
You can also conduct polls on social media or via pop-ups on your website, gather a focus group, or complete a phone survey. Talk to your webmaster about using a service called HotJar which has a free option that allows you to integrate pop-up questionnaires and record user sessions to see how they utilize your site.
Start by surveying your current customers. Develop a list of questions that will help you establish how you performed in their most recent purchase and your brand awareness. Here are a few to get you started.
What problems did you have that this company or product solved?
Would you recommend this product to your friends and family?
What words would you use to describe your experience with this company?
What does the brand’s logo make you think of?
How good is this business’s customer service?
Where did you first hear about this company or product?
It’s also beneficial to survey your target audience who aren’t currently customers. This can help you judge your overall public awareness. Using the same methods listed above, you could ask questions like:
Have you ever heard of this brand?
Have you ever used this brand?
How would you describe this brand to others?
What other brands have you chosen instead?
What made you choose a different brand?
6. Survey employees
The way your employees view the company is as important to the customer experience as the product they’re purchasing, maybe more! If your employee is unsatisfied or disgruntled, it’ll reflect in their mannerisms when talking with customers.
It’ll also help you assess if your employees are using the right messaging when talking with potential customers. The more concise your message is, the easier it will be for your audience to remember you.
How would you describe our brand?
What is the brand’s vision?
What problem does our brand solve for customers?
How do you deliver on our brand’s promise? What keeps you from delivering on that promise?
What one thing would you do to improve our brand?
7. Evaluate competing brands
Who are your most significant or most direct competitors within your marketplace? Pull together as many of their marketing materials as you can get your hands on. Then sort through everything and find out where your messaging overlaps, where they are outperforming you, or where you might have an edge.
Try and track down some of their customers to determine why they selected your competitor and ask what type of experience the customer had. It might give you ideas for improvement.
What are your next steps after completing your brand audit?
What are the next steps you need to take now that you’ve completed your brand audit? It’s time to review the results. Start a running document, note what works for you, which areas could use improvement, and what is completely missing the mark.
Brainstorm with others on your team and get a different perspective. It’s beneficial to be brutally honest with yourself and your business. There’s no point in identifying your gaps if you’re just going to lie to yourself.
Next, you need to create an action plan for implementing the changes you identified throughout the review process. This will likely be a long and arduous process, so assign tasks and due dates to your marketing team, salespeople, customer service staff, or any employee that could help improve the brand.
Finally, monitor the progress you’ve made. As you were thinking about your marketing plan and sales objectives, you probably set some goals for yourself. This is the part where you can start taking measurements on those goals. Take a snapshot each quarter, showing how much headway you’ve made since starting your action plan. Over the course of the year, take note of changes and celebrate the wins you’ve achieved.
I know this seems like a difficult task, and it is - I’m not going to lie to you.
But once you’ve completed a brand audit for your business, you’ll be in a better place to promote your products and services, help others become more familiar with your business, and hopefully increase your client base and market share.
Are you interested in working together? I can help guide you through your brand audit and get you started in the right direction with visuals, messaging, and consumer interaction.
Just message me through my contact page and let me know about your business! We'll set up a free consultation.