Every brand has characteristics unique to itself but over time as every business adapts to a changing world, that special essence can become watered down and even lost. Brands can become a bit stale over time and when they do it might be time to audit the brand to find out why.
When was the last time you were able to take a step back to see how your identity, messaging and customer experience all work together?
Pausing to assess the continuity of a brand from the consumers perspective and market position can not just clarify new opportunities but build the brand quicker. All while still safeguarding its integrity, and maximizing its value?
Full Service list
Six steps to auditing your brand?
Every brand and every category is different, so the approach may change with each unique brand 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. Referring to your business’s purpose, vision, values, positioning and promise are the foundation to see what’s working and what’s not. As well as your current marketing plan, identify unique and selling proposition. Who are your target customers, and what does your brand promise them? 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 organization?
• 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?
Getting as many people from within an organization means that from day one of aligning to a new direction. They have ownership of the brand moving forward, plus we often find synergy with a CEO and someone from the loading dock and when that happens that’s brand gold.
3. Know and talk to your customers
Again using one on ones and a combination of customer focus groups, email surveys, social media polls, phone surveys and online surveys to get customer feedback. Be crystal clear on the demographics of your target audience.
You never know where the best ideas could come from and more often than not there can be great solutions often or not from a consumer bug bear that might change the direction or method of how a company delivers on their brand promise.
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, letterhead, business cards and how you advertise. 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?
Are all of these elements consistent in terms of design, color 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 up to date idea of what’s happening in the marketplace today. 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 organization 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 looking back from a distance gives critical analysis, without any preconceived ideas.
When you know where your brand is, it becomes clearer to see where you can go next
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.