The purpose behind a brand audit is simple – to get a clear understanding of where your brand is at, and make sure that it’s still performing to its maximum potential.
Too often, a company sees an audit as something that’s only relevant during a rebrand. But – although that’s a great time to do an audit – it’s not the only time that a brand audit is relevant.
Think of it like going for a dental check-up (but hopefully a lot less painful!). It’s simply part of making sure your brand remains at optimum health.
There is no set answer and it’s entirely dependent on your brand’s circumstances. You might do a mini-audit each year where you sense check your brand collateral, communications channels, website, processes, and marketing and sales activities to check that they’re still aligned with your strategy.
Or perhaps there’s a bigger reason you’ll need to audit; new competitors mean you need to your positioning, changing consumer behaviours mean that your brand needs to shift to ensure maximum relevance, or maybe your company has seen opportunities in new markets or sectors and your brand needs to reflect.
The exact ‘how’ of a brand audit varies slightly from company to company depending on what you do, who your audience is, and how you sell your products or services. But there are some key things to think about that are applicable to everyone.
To really understand how you’re doing, you need to talk to the people that matter the most – your customers. The best way is to engage an experienced research or branding company who will advise you about the best approach (surveys, focus groups, one-to-ones etc). But there are also useful tools like Google Surveys or Survey Monkey. Use your own channels – your social channels, your email database, your sales staff, and also encourage sharing through your employees and their networks. Incentivising the survey with a prize will help to encourage people to take part. Remember to keep the survey short and simple so that you get a high completion rate. And, as well as asking multiple choice and yes/no answers, give people the chance to share their thoughts and opinions too.
Just as important as your customers, are your employees. How do they feel about your business? Get your CEO on board so that employees understand how important their opinions are and consider a mix of example surveys, a sample of interviews or an in-depth cultural assessment. Your employees are on the frontline and know more about your customers than anyone else. Get them on board and you’ll learn valuable insights about how your brand is perceived.
By looking at your competitors you’ll know if your brand is still clearly differentiated. Use social media tools to listen to what customers are saying, assess their websites, see what industry events they’re present at. And ask; how are they positioning themselves? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How do these compare to yours?
On the more tangible side, it’s important to assess any internal and external collateral currently in use. Each item needs to be assessed against your brand strategy, and also your brand guidelines. Often over time, and especially using a range of third-party providers, the integrity of your brand can start to be weakened. Create a spreadsheet of all the collateral and indicate if each item is on-brand in terms of both visuals and messaging. Is the piece of the quality it needs to be? Add notes as you go and use this as a working document to facilitate any changes that need to be made. It’s not always about fixing, sometimes it’s about assessing if the item is adding value at all. It’s also good to look for additional opportunities to connect with your customer and one of the best ways to do this is with customer journey mapping. This customer-centric approach helps you understand what your audience is doing, and when, and more importantly what they need from your organisation.
By the end of your brand audit, you’ll want a document that outlines all of your findings, and the recommendations on next steps. It’s also handy to include an indication of priority.
A brand audit doesn’t automatically mean that your actual brand needs updating. But if you have discovered that your positioning needs some refinement that’s the first place to start. Your strategy will inform all other items on your list.
Our brand health checklist is an 8-page document that outlines the key areas of your brand that may need attention, including: