When it comes to your business, your audience has expectations–whether they know it or not. Those expectations are informed by your brand. This is good news because that means you can shape your brand and it will impact how your customers (and employees) expect to interact with your business.
Regularly perform a brand audit to ensure that everything is aligned, from your internal communications to the final delivery of services.
What is a Brand Audit?
Your brand shows up in three domains: Internal, External, and Customer Experience. Using each of these domains as a lens is important so that your brand’s identity is completely aligned.
Ignoring one of these brand domains can lead to inconsistencies, whether internal or external, that begin to discredit your business.
Your audit should include a review of your brand goals, assessment of your brand’s current state, and analysis of your competition’s brand.
Create a Brand Summary
Your brand summary compiles the different aspects of your brand into a single document. It’s similar to a visual brand kit, except it is focused on the language and structure used. Although, a brand summary can include your company’s logo, too.
In a brand summary, you are clarifying what you believe your brand to be. Later in the brand audit, you review what others think of your brand. Then you can compare how your brand is perceived and whether that aligns with your brand aspirations.
The items to include in your brand summary are:
- Value Proposition
- Brand Promise
- Brand Personality
- Messaging Structure
Review Your Marketing Materials
- Do these materials look and feel consistent?
- Are they aligned with your brand aspirations in design and tone of voice?
- Do the materials promise the same message and use consistent imagery across all channels?
- Do the materials use verbiage that is consistent with your brand promise, positioning, and messaging?
- Are the design and writing style up to date?
- Are the materials still relevant?
- Which are the primary customer acquisition channels?
Assess Your Website Experience
The majority of consumers are visiting a company’s website, social media, and reading online reviews before purchasing their products. This doesn’t mean that those consumers are necessarily buying online, but they are getting an impression from your website.
Compare your website experience to your brand summary and make sure all elements are aligned. When your audience hears about your company through a digital ad or word of mouth, the experience they receive from visiting your website should be on-brand. If your ads or promotional materials look sharp and modern, but your website looks like it’s from 1995, your audience will be confused. Your brand should inform every interaction your audience has with your company, both online and offline.
You Get a Survey! You Get a Survey! You Get a Survey!
Because your brand exists within the three domains of internal, external, and customer experience, it’s important to survey people from each domain to get a well-rounded perspective.
Who exactly should you survey?
- Employees – Internal alignment will keep your staff, and ultimately your customers, happy and engaged.
- Customers – We’re all familiar with customer feedback surveys. But they are very important. Particularly for digital products and services where you don’t have much if any, face-to-face interaction with your consumers.
- Non-Customers – Not just anyone. Survey your target demographic, but not yet customers. Are they aware of your brand? What do they think about it? Through what channels have they interacted with your brand?
If possible, survey through different methods. Simply sending surveys via email might not capture a diverse or large enough sample size. Consider sending direct mail surveys, SMS text surveys, or make phone calls.
Evaluate the Competition
Evaluating the competition is a key aspect of a brand audit because no brand exists in isolation. In fact, if you are the only one offering your product or service, well…do you even need a brand?
Many online tools can help you identify who your competition is (if you don’t already know), and what they’re doing that’s working. You can view things such as their search engine ranking, traffic sources, most popular website pages, their digital ads, backlinks, and more.
Besides solely comparing data, you also want to take a qualitative inspection of the competition.
- How do they position themselves?
- How are they unique from us?
- What are consumer perceptions of their brand?
- What is significant about their messaging/value proposition/target audience?
If you already know who your competition is, you might consider adding some questions about them onto your surveys, as well.
To wrap it all up, a brand audit will help inform you of the strengths and weaknesses of your brand. With well-crafted surveys and thorough data analysis, you can make strategic moves to help your company reach its brand aspirations.
For more up-to-date content to help you during this time, check out our new series Zig When They Zag: Resources to encourage a growth mindset in uncertain times.
I have over 10 years in design and identity development for businesses. I joined Hot Dog Marketing in 2013 as branding specialist focusing on new small business and start ups. I love my beer, my dog Brew, Batman and anything Lego.