Every brand has characteristics that make it unique but over time that special essence can become watered down and even lost. When brands become indistinguishable and diluted it might be time to audit the brand to reconnect with the essence and clarity that makes your business unique.
When was the last time you were able to take a step back and look at how your identity, messaging and customer experience all work together?
Get a professional to look at your brand with fresh eyes. You may be missing an opportunity to carve a niche in your market or effectively persuade your customers. It’s worth the time and value to identify opportunities and evolve more holistically.
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Six steps to auditing your brand?
Every brand and every category is different, so the approach may change with each unique situation, but here are the six stages basic stages we like to cover off when auditing a brand.
1. Start by knowing who you are
As part of aligning your brand for the future, we need to know who you are. We start from the top down and review your business’s purpose, vision, values, positioning, and promise. This is a high level opportunity to see what’s working and what’s not. We analyse your current marketing plan, your brand promise, unique selling proposition and value proposition. We look at your target customers, the gaps between your customers’ wants and your matching products and services. What does your brand promise? We clarify what you think your brand is before evaluating what others think.
2. Survey your employees
Your employees create the customer experience that is essential to your brand. If they don’t understand your brand, they can’t convey it properly. We use one on one anonymous meetings, surveys, and small groups to ask questions such as:
• How would you describe the one thing that you do really well?
• Why do you like working for this company?
• What do its customers mean to you?
• What problems do you solve?
• Where do you think the industry is going?
• What problem does our brand solve for customers?
• How do you deliver on our brand’s promise?
• What keeps you from delivering on that promise?
• What one thing would you do to improve our brand?
We get as many people involved from within an organisation from day one. This reinforces the truths spoken by someone from the loading dock as well as the CEO and things move quickly. It is surprisingly easy for us to facilitate and it means that everyone has ownership of the brand moving forward, and they’re willing to align to their new direction. These synergies are unstoppable brand gold.
3. Know and talk to your customers
Using a combination of customer focus groups, one on ones, email surveys, social media polls, phone surveys, and online surveys to get customer feedback, we can get crystal clear on the demographics and motivations of your target audience.
The best ideas can come from the most unexpected places but you’ll never know if you don’t look. A consumer frustration or customer service interaction might change the direction of how a company delivers on their brand promise. We notice what resonates with your intended audience.
4. Assess your consumer touch points.
Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes by understanding their Path to purchase. Review your business logo, brochures, sales sheets, product packaging, signage, business cards and advertising. What is your online presence? Review your business website, social media channels, email marketing, newsletters, and content marketing pieces. Where is web traffic coming from? Using analytics, assess your bounce rate? If visitors leave your site leave right away, it’s not as effective as it should be. What is your conversion rate? Is it rising or falling? Where are the weak points in your sales funnel?
Are all of these elements consistent in terms of design, colour and tone of voice? And most importantly are they “on-brand” for who you are?
5. Evaluate your marketplace
Who are your biggest competitors? More often than not companies don’t have an objective idea of what’s currently happening in their competitive landscape. When talking to your customers find out who else they are considering in the mix when trying to choose a provider for your product or service.
Assess their marketing and advertising materials, websites, social media presence, and customer service. You can also ask customers, members of your target market and even your employees the same questions about your competitors’ brands as you asked about yours.
6. Review and realign as required
Using all the data you’ve gathered, you can now measure what elements of your brand work, which need realigning, and which are missing the mark entirely. Creating a brand strategy that realigns your brand to bring it in line with your business’s mission and vision.
What are the benefits of a Brand Audit?
The benefits of auditing your brand are far reaching but the top five benefits that are common at the end of a brand audit are.
1. Improve customer experience
Auditing your brand is one of the best ways to assess the customer experience. The only way to improve your customers’ experience is to understand it again building that path to purchase pays dividends every time. An accurate overview of both the positive and negative aspects of your customer service, allows you to actively build on your strengths and improve your weaknesses.
2. Increase brand loyalty
Having insight into customer behavior and brand positioning offers an unbiased assessment of how your customers differentiate your brand from competitors and their attitudes about the service you provide. Having actionable insight into your marketing activities, helps you to identify “low hanging fruit” i.e the actions that will cost the least while building your brand positioning.
3. Fully understand brand perception
Whether we like to admit it or not, our own biases frequently shape our perceptions. If you are inside the jar you can’t read the label. Without an audit, no one within an organisation can provide a candid overview of how that brand is perceived, whether they are assessing external perception (by customers and clients) or internal (by colleagues). A brand audit allows you to look back into your brand almost from an “out of brand perspective”. This objective review gives critical analysis, without any preconceived ideas.
4. Identify weaknesses
Understanding your brands’ perception is the best way to gauge the limitations of your current approach. The “out of brand perspective” helps to identify weaknesses in marketing, communication, and customer service. Targeted improvement in these areas, increasing your return on investment for everything from marketing costs to staff hiring and training.
5. Identify new opportunities for growth
The real advantage of a brand experience audit, however, extends far beyond what you’ll learn about the health of your brand at present. Your brand is the most valuable aspect of your business, but without a clear vision forward, your brand can never achieve its full potential.
Knowing who you are and how to communicate it, combined with a comprehensive view of the external market and your position in it, provides actionable insight into your future growth.