Contrary to popular belief auditing your brand can be swift, painless, easy, and wait for it…enjoyable. Brand audits can be wholesale belt and braces or a quick state of the nation overview. They can be a quick check-in to make sure you’re still on track and following your dreams, or they can be deep dive and analytic driven.
Wherever you’re at they are designed to help, not hinder.
Think of a brand audit as your finger on your pulse – the pulse of your brand. If the pulse is ticking over nicely, then carry on. If it’s a bit erratic, then maybe some changes need to be made. If your business needs and values are in sync then your general brand health is good. Good brand health = a good position to be in within your sector of business and a head start over your competitors.
Why you should audit your brand?
The purpose of a brand audit is to work out in real time how your business is performing in the eyes of your customers. A brand audit offers you the following benefits in return:
- Helps you to determine the positioning of your business and to plan corrective strategies
- Empowers you to discover the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats of your business
- Guides you to align your offerings more accurately with the expectations of potential and existing customers
- Enables you to gather with the perceptions (positive or negative) about your business
- Provides an opportunity for you to assess whether your brand continues to evolve with your business and stay ahead of the pack
- Ensures your vision, mission and values continue to represent and remain loyal to your brand.
How does a brand audit work?
1: Create an Audit Framework
The first step of your brand audit process is to create a framework. Before you start examining your brand, make a list of topics to be covered and how will you go about the process. We use mind-mapping for this and scribble down everything that directly or indirectly relates to the brands we look after. These are the elements which need to be considered during the brand audit:
- What’s the purpose of your brand?
- Does it still align with the business’s vision, mission and values?
- Who are your competitors and what are they up to?
- Who is your target audience, and has it changed?
- What’s your main offer - what makes you so special anyway?
- What are your brand strengths and weaknesses?
- Where is your brand sitting in like-minded competitor positionings?
- What are the current and anticipated industry trends associated with your brand?
- What are your differentiators; pricing, customer service, USP etc.
2: Question your brand
Checking your website analytics is a good first step to get a bird’s-eye view of the health of your brand. It’s also good to hear directly from your customers to find out how they perceive and speak of your brand. How do they feel when they think of your brand? Check your social channels frequently – what’s the feeling out there? Who’s engaging, sharing and commenting on your posts? What are your followers saying when they comment? Do you have more followers than last month? If not, why not?
3: Put yourself in your customer's shoes
Have you ever wondered what a real customer experiences when he or she engages with your brand? Then put yourself in their shoes.
4: Actions and next steps
Ultimately, a brand audit is redundant if you don’t devise an action plan for the issues highlighted. A detailed report using your findings in the brand audit process and set actionable targets will address those issues.
List all of the problems that turned up during the brand audit process. Next to each issue, write down the action plan(s) required to resolve it along with expected results and a reasonable timeline. Setting a timeline is crucial as each error has its own weight in the functioning of your website and must be timely addressed. The old adage that a builder lives in an unfinished house often, but really shouldn’t, apply here.
On the other side of the coin if your brand is working then celebrate accordingly. Be proud of what you are achieving. Look forward with vigour and excitement. Feel good now? Imagine how good you’ll feel when you next audit your brand!
The greatest investment you can make is in yourself and your brand.
When your action plans are executed, monitor the progress by repeating the brand audit process. Remember that a brand audit is a continuous exercise and must be undertaken regularly. Useful prompts include:
- Daylight saving – Check your brand.
- Car needs a WOF? Check your brand.
- End of calendar / tax year – Check your brand.
So, the next time you feel that your business is chugging, not purring, it’s a clear sign you need to audit your brand. If have some down time (remember that?!) block yourself out and have a look at your brand. Be your very own mystery shopper – you’ll be the toughest customer of all. Signs that you may need a more in-depth audit include:
- Website traffic is down
- New followers on your social channels are down
- New business has slowed
- Existing clients are less engaged
- General enquiries are less common
- Things just feel stale
Get in touch. Wherever you’re at on your brand journey, we can help you get further. It’s what we do.