What is the purpose of a brand audit?
“The purpose behind a brand audit is plain and simple: to gain a fundamental understanding of where your brand stands in its current state.”
When and why should we audit our brand?
The majority of businesses go through the process of auditing their brand when they have a vested interest in making a change within their organization. Maybe they’re rebranding, or refreshing their current look. This would be a perfect time to take a look at your current brand and see where it has shifted since its inception. Perhaps an organization is unhappy with their internal communication and employee relations. A smart CEO or CMO might take that opportunity to judge what their brand stands for, who they are as a company and what they need to do from a communications standpoint to fix the internal problems or issues.
The power of a brand is much stronger than most realize. A strong brand empowers and inspires employees. It’s the foundation on which a strong organization can be built. If the foundation is cracked in certain areas, it would be in the homeowner’s best interest to audit the situation and put the proper processes in place to fix it. The same goes with companies and their brands.
So how can I effectively audit my company’s brand if I want to enact real change?
Example - How to Perform a Brand Audit
Doing a brand audit from scratch can be a real pain, but if you have an outline of what to look for, the brand audit process can be relatively painless. An extensive brand audit should look at the following categories:
- Brand Values
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP), brand promise, or brand essence
- Product / Service positioning
- Corporate Identity - logos and other brand elements
- Collateral-brochures, print materials, trade show displays, etc.
- Social Media
- Content Marketing and other assets - blogs, white papers, case studies, articles, books, etc.
Systems and Infrastructure
- Corporate identity/brand standards
- HR policies/on-boarding process
- Sales processes/touch points
- Internal systems
- Customer service systems
Brand Audit: Before and After
In today’s increasingly complex market, there is a hyper-focus on return on investment (ROI). Of course, ROI isn’t just a tactic to keep the bean counters satisfied—weighing the financial benefits of your branding decisions throughout the process will help guide difficult decisions.
One way you can demonstrate ROI is by conducting a brand audit before and after a rebrand. This will show where the branding exercise helped improve systems and close gaps.
Do the math.
If you’re looking to justify a rebrand in your organization, don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions surrounding your brand today, such as:
- How many deals do we lose every month to a company with a stronger brand?
- How many prospects do we turn off because of a lack of consistency between our website and marketing efforts?
- How many new clients/projects would you have to win to justify the costs of a rebrand?
For most services firms (for example), one or two clients would be more than enough to justify the investment. For consumer businesses, you may want to form focus groups or perform a click testing campaign. For a deeper look at developing a brand strategy that is right for you, contact us directly to have a conversation.
Why A Brand Audit Matters
The word “audit” has such a negative connotation doesn’t it? The first thing most people think of when they hear the word “audit” is the IRS. Negative word association for sure!
But did you know that the definition of the word audit is “an official inspection of…” or “a systematic review or assessment of something.”
The most valuable brands in the world have achieved their position not just through implementing an initially strong branding strategy but also by monitoring changes in customer perceptions over time, and being strategically receptive to those changes.
Letting your brand go without periodic brand audits can often lead to missed messages and opportunities when it comes to reaching and engaging your ideal customers.
What is a Brand Audit?
A brand audit is taking an in-depth analysis of all the touchpoints between your brand and your customers. Effort should be given to measure and quantify the impact of the brand on customers, their decision, and the company’s financial performance.
Because branding is a strategic point of view, not just a set of activities, a brand audit should be utilized as a key tool for creating and maintaining a competitive advantage.
There are several steps involved in auditing your current brand. Evaluating your internal brand arsenal is critical to gain an understanding of the brand from a customer’s perspective. You will also need to understand how your brand fares with your employees, salesforce, suppliers, distributors, and any channel partners. At a minimum, you should uncover from your brand audit the answers to the following questions:
- What can be capitalized on or corrected?
- What sets our brand apart from our competitors, in the eyes of our customers and team members?
- How favorable or unfavorable are perceptions about our brand?
- How deeply are views about our brand held? What are the emotional responses?
- How do your customers and team members define our S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)?
It is important to get a large enough data sample to really be able to evaluate trends in the feedback. So how do you get the information you need?
Qualitative research is primarily exploratory. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides deeper insights into the feedback and helps to develop ideas to aid in business growth and development.
Qualitative research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into any problems or possible solutions.
Qualitative data collection methods vary using unstructured or semi- structured techniques. Some common methods used include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews (which are preferred), and participation/observations.
It is important to have at least 90% of your questions be the same across all interviews in order to be able to measure trends and to have 10% of your questions custom developed based on the team member’s company role, job description, department, years of service, and specific customer and team member interactions.
Quantitative research is used to quantify the information by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research. Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than qualitative data collection methods.
Quantitative data collection methods include various forms of surveys used to gain statistically significant data to help support the qualitative research.
Upon completion of your brand audit, you should have the necessary information to uncover the following:
- The company’s S.W.O.T
- Internal and external perspectives on brand, services, knowledge, culture, quality, expectations, and differentiators
- Areas of communication breakdowns throughout internal processes or between departments/office locations
- An ideal customer profile
- Factors that influence customers’ decisions when making a purchase
- How to reach, engage, and retain your ideal customers
Brand audits need to be a part of your marketing strategy to ensure your company is staying consistent with your position, message, and attitude. A brand audit will help your marketing department gain an in-depth understanding of your team’s and customer’s perspectives of your brand, service, knowledge, culture, quality, expectations, and differentiators. The end result – a better marketing strategy for your company.