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.