A brand is a projection. A projection of a concept that puts everything connected to a certain story under the same umbrella. When companies decide they want to go out there and tell their narrative, they usually perform – or outsource – a brand audit.
Shortly put, a brand audit is a detailed examination of your current brand position in the market that helps you identify the strengths and shortcomings of your brand and leverage all the inconsistencies and opportunities you’ve discovered so to achieve your objectives.
A brand audit is all about brand perception – about finding where you stand within a crowd and what’s to be done to stand out.
Now, why should you perform such an examination, besides taking the temperature of your marketscape? In broad terms, a brand audit offers you the following benefits:
- helps you determine which are the strengths and weaknesses of your brand;
- helps you position your brand;
- provides a holistic perspective over the threats and opportunities your brand might face;
- helps you improve your branding strategy or develop a new one;
- helps you align the promise of your brand to the expectations of your customers.
When performing a brand audit, make sure you’re aware of the following aspects:
The external branding is the sum of all your marketing efforts designed to make an impact on the mindset of your audiences (and prospective customers) – and enables them to reach out to you. It usually covers your company logo, messaging and tone of voice, website, social media presence, content marketing, digital and print advertising – and all strategic attempts taken by the organization to meet its business goals.
Besides your primary target market that you’ll need to persuade into reaching out to your services, do you know who else you need to encourage to be by your side? That’s right, your employees. Change does come from the inside so you better make sure your employees feel connected to their work & company, and understand & relate to the vision of the brand they’re representing.
Branding – both external and internal – is closely linked to customer experience which is the result of every interaction your consumers had with your brand. Whether it’s the website, your social media activity, customer support, or advertising, everything your brand communicates has a huge impact on your customers’ perceptions and their decisions of reaching out to you.
How to perform a brand audit?
You’ll need to write down everything you know in terms of current branding strategy (purpose, positioning, unique selling point, promise, personality), current brand assets (if any – such as voice, writing and style guide), and of course, as mentioned above, external and internal touchpoints.
First, take a look at your web analytics – traffic, bounce rate, page views, conversion rate. This way you’ll know where your visitors come from, see if the traffic increases or decreases, find whether the bounce rate is high or low, and learn which pages of your website are viewed the most. Or the least. Analytics also shows you the proportion of visitors that actually performed an action on your website. A newsletter subscription? Or maybe a purchase?
Based on all this intel, you can devise a list with strengths and weaknesses your website might have. After all, your website is your business card.
2. Industry trends
Sure, everybody has a dream. But if you don’t want to turn that dream into a nightmare, take a look at industry trends, stats, reports, anything. Hopefully, you didn’t dream about inventing the steam machine, because that is so last century. And we all know the industrial revolution has this eerie aesthetics that doesn’t really fit the minimalistic trend so common and hip for our times.
3. Target market & niche
Who are you addressing? Who is your primary target market? What are their needs and their challenges? How do they perceive you? What is the current internal and external perception of your brand?
Stalk. Stalk the industry you’re in and stalk your competitors. You can use tools such as SEMRush or Alexa to identify top sites in your industry. What are their strengths? Their weaknesses? What do they have that you don’t? What do you have that they don’t?
Knowing your competitors will give you another perspective on your own positioning and unique selling point. Understanding the way they do marketing will help you understand why you need to work on your own (marketing).
Based on what you’ve found out about your competitors, it is now time to set your key differentiators.
Is it the price? The quality? The messaging? Customer support? Is it a unique feature? Your technology? Is it something about your customers? What’s your competitive advantage? What are you revolutionizing?
Set your goals and priorities straight. What are your goals? Increase brand awareness? Maybe shift brand perception? Reach a new market? Increase brand loyalty?
Think of your business objectives and try to break them down to small steps and milestones.
Whether you’re dealing with pre or post-audit efforts, don’t forget to constantly compare, analyze, and improve your marketing and branding. And never ever, under any circumstances, detach your struggles from your business goals and objectives.
In the end, a brand audit should help you build a corrective branding strategy. How does your USP link to your customers’ pain points? Is it relevant? If not, how can you make it valuable? Are your key differentiators clearly stated? Why should anyone pick you instead of your competitors? How do you communicate? What channels do you use? Does your tone of voice syncs with your visual identity? What do people think about your brand? What’s the most efficient communication platform? What type of content is the most effective?
Write everything down, keep tabs on the evolution of your brand, and never stop improving.