How to Do a Brand Audit [A Guide for Internal Audits]
Conduct a brand audit to discover your company's strengths and weaknesses, reduce marketing expenses, and build a strong market position.
July 7, 2023
If so, it might be time to conduct a brand audit.
Why Performing a Brand Audit Is Important
A brand audit is a detailed analysis of your business’s performance in the market compared to competitors. Companies can use what they learn from an audit to improve several areas of operation. Marketing initiatives, sales processes, and customer service policies are examples.
Organizations often use brand audit insights to:
- Create business goals
- Develop campaigns to increase brand awareness
- Create product offers
- Assess whether marketing materials are effective
- Find out if it’s time for a brand refresh
A brand audit can also help company leadership manage challenges.
Companies have two primary options when auditing their brand. For those who are unfamiliar with brand strategy concepts, hiring a third-party auditor is the best option.
Some company executives feel they are too close to their own brand to assess it objectively. This is another reason many organizations hire an audit firm.
But others may choose to conduct a brand audit internally. This might be the right choice for teams that have experience with digital marketing and analytics. In-house audits can be a cost-effective option because it eliminates the need to hire an external consultant.
It’s also possible to combine approaches. For example, you may hire an auditor to help you with the initial brand assessment. Then, your team can take over, using the auditor’s insights to carry out recommendations. The best choice comes down to your organization’s situation and resources.
This post will give businesses a brand audit framework they can use to perform an internal audit.
Do You Need a SWOT Analysis or a Brand Audit?
Some of our clients aren’t sure what the difference is between a SWOT analysis and a brand audit. Though there are some similarities, these are different processes with unique goals.
A SWOT analysis is a review of your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. A SWOT takes less time than an audit. It’s often used in strategic planning or as a surface-level brand assessment.
A brand audit is an in-depth review of your business, inside and out. It’s like a health check for your company. The final brand audit report includes recommendations to improve your company’s brand positioning, communication strategy, and customer experience. We’ll explore each of these—and other audit components—in more detail throughout this post.
To determine whether your company needs a SWOT or a brand audit, consider what you want to achieve.
A SWOT will give you an overview of what’s working and what isn’t. However, an audit is the best option if you want in-depth insights into your brand’s position in the competitive landscape.
At The Brand Auditors, we include a SWOT in our brand audit process.
Brand Audit Framework: An Overview
A successful brand audit provides an immeasurable value for large enterprises and small businesses alike. Without one, companies can drift off course and become disconnected from target customers. An audit can show businesses how to improve their positioning in the market landscape, value proposition, and relationships with its audience. These components impact the brand’s performance.
An audit includes a review of:
Internal branding refers to a company’s identity as seen inside the organization. By creating a strong internal brand, companies can improve employee engagement, increase productivity, and ultimately drive business success.
To assess a company’s internal branding, an auditor must analyze several elements. The company’s mission, core values, culture are examples. The auditor should also include the brand's vision and core messaging in this process.
The company’s employees should understand and embody the brand’s promise and purpose. When they do, it’s easier to create connections with the target market and build customer loyalty.
External branding relates to the elements of the organization’s identity that are recognizable from outside the company. The logo, imagery, and the brand voice are examples.
When assessing these components, make sure the company’s visual identity, messaging, and perception align with its strategic objectives. It’s important for the company’s current brand to be consistent across all marketing channels. Consistency helps create a strong brand image and improves customer recognition.
Strong brands take time to understand how their customers perceive them. Without this insight, it’s difficult to attract more customers that align with your business goals.
There are several ways to measure brand perception, including surveys, monitoring social media channels, and reading through online reviews.
Enhancing the customer experience starts with studying touchpoints. The customer experience takes place in several ways:
- During the sales process
- Customer service experience
- Social media marketing
- Marketing materials
The quality of this experience—whether positive or negative—sets the tone for the company’s long-term success.
How to Do a Brand Audit
In this section, I'll outline each audit step to create a practical workflow.
Define Brand Audit Goals
The first step in the brand audit process is to define its goals.
The project leader should develop topics for discussion before starting the audit. As teams discuss each topic, they will uncover the most pressing issues that need to be addressed. Each team should set brand audit goals relevant to their department.
Here are some questions you might use to conduct these discussions:
The audit team should also answer questions like:
Once you have set goals, the next step is to establish key performance indicators.
Determine the Metrics You Will Use
To develop success metrics for an audit, consider the data that would help you improve your branding efforts. To do this, some companies develop an internal scoring system for each step of their brand audit. Other businesses use technical data, such as website analytics, social media data, or sales reports.
After you have set benchmarks for each area of your audit, you can track progress over time.
Tracking metrics also allows a brand to detect an issue and adjust when performance lags. This helps companies adjust to potential issues faster, which saves thousands of dollars they might have wasted otherwise.
Explore Brand Values and Purpose
Brand values are the principles that guide an organization’s actions, from environmental protection to diversity, solidarity, or transparency. These values give meaning to a brand’s existence, forming an essential part of its core identity.
Values must reflect what is truly important to the company. They must be honest and implemented consistently throughout every part of the brand strategy. This includes communication with employees and consumers to strategic decision-making and internal processes.
Authenticity is crucial. Consumers know when a brand isn’t being authentic, which can lead to a total loss of trust. Want proof? Facebook, Volkswagen, United Airlines, or any other brand lost the audience’s trust because of misaligned business practices.
The brand’s values should have a positive effect on its reputation and bottom line. Companies often use customer surveys and social media analytics to evaluate the impact of brand value on the market.
Talk with your team members to define specific terms that describe the heart of your company. These terms are sometimes called brand attributes. Attributes speak to the essence of why the brand exists and influences public opinion.
Consumers get a sense of your business’s values and purpose when they interact with it. This happens regardless of whether they are aware of it. A solid brand identity enhances customer acquisition. Tangible attributes (i.e., name, logo, slogan) and intangible attributes (i.e., uniqueness, credibility, and consistency) work together to build your brand identity.
As you work through this step, you may discover that your values and purpose aren’t resonating with potential customers. If this is the case, it may be necessary to adjust your messaging, visual identity, or marketing channel strategy. In the most extreme situations, companies may find that a rebrand is in order.
Assess Target Market Segments for Profitability
To optimize ROI on a business strategy, brands must target the right customers. Otherwise, customer acquisition costs will be higher than they need to be, and engagement with the brand will be disappointing.
There is a direct link between the quality of the target customers and conversion rate. A brand audit should include a review of each target customer segment to assess profitability.
Consider the demographics of your current customer base. Are they the right age, income level, and in the right location for your brand?
Next, explore psychographics. What motivates your customers? What are their interests and values?
Also, assess your current personas’ buying behaviors. Do they align with your offers? Are they likely to make repeat purchases, or are they one-time buyers?
Don’t forget to consider your unique selling proposition. What sets you apart from competitors? Your audience must appreciate the qualities that make your brand unique and valuable.
Once you have completed this step, you can determine if your current buyer personas accurately represent your best customers. If not, adjust your messaging strategy. These adjustments can have a significant impact on marketing campaigns.
You should base buyer personas on real data and research, not assumptions. Again, refer to surveys, analytics, and other tools to develop actionable insights instead of guessing.
Finally, remember that personas aren’t static. Your audience may change over time, so your personas should evolve too.
Conduct Customer Surveys
Customer surveys are an excellent way to get the feedback you need to assess brand perception. By asking for their opinions, you can find out what customers like and dislike about your business. As a result, you can identify how to improve your brand, product, or service.
Customer feedback may also help you find a new market, or new products and services you can develop to generate revenue.
The insights from customer sentiment analysis matter more than how you get them. Some businesses don’t have the resources to perform extensive surveys. Others, such as online brands, have limited access to their customers. So, use a system that fits your staff and budget requirements.
You will get detailed feedback from customers by asking open-ended questions. Surveys that are accurate and get higher responses are also easier to complete.
Assess the Company Culture
The people in your organization are the backbone of your company. They work to make sure your customers are happy and that your brand is successful. But have you ever considered how employee sentiment affects brand equity?
If your employees aren’t engaged, it could be because they have lost confidence in the brand. This can lead to lower productivity, poor customer service, and high turnover. In most cases, these problems have a negative impact on brand performance.
You can use routine surveys to gauge the impact of employee sentiment. Gather feedback on their job satisfaction, work environment, and attitude toward the company. This can provide valuable insights to help you boost employee morale.
You can also check social media and online review sites like Glassdoor. Many times, you will find mentions of your brand by current and former employees. Negative reviews or comments may reveal underlying issues within the company.
Conduct an employee survey as you would a customer survey. Ask open-ended questions to find out how employees feel about working for the brand. The answers will tell you how they feel about customers, competitors, and management practices. You may also learn how positive they are about the company’s future.
Competitor brands have a significant impact on your business. They influence your product development, pricing, and other aspects of the business strategy.
An analysis of competitors’ brands shows you how your company is performing versus others in your market sector. As a result, you can identify challenges that hold your brand back.
A competitor analysis report summarizes their strategies, products, and messaging compared to yours. To guide your research, set some specific parameters. The purpose of setting parameters is to get an accurate, apples-to-apples comparison.
Here are some examples of competitive analysis parameters:
- Reviews (based on average star ratings)
- Social media presence
- Google analytics (i.e., bounce rate, time on page)
- Advertising materials
- Price positioning
The more parameters there are, the more reliable the results.
Online Brand Reputation
A company’s online reputation has a profound impact on its success. Check your company’s social media accounts, business directory listings, and other platforms.
What do you see? Does your brand turn up when you search for relevant terms related to your organization?
All brand audits should include a review of a company’s reputation online.
Brand associations help customers remember, recognize, and connect with your company.
When a customer thinks of your brand, what comes to mind? Quality? Cheaper prices? Exceptional service?
These thoughts about your brand, good or bad, are brand associations.
In this step of your brand audit, think about the words and images customers use to associate with your brand. If they don’t align with how you want people to see your brand, then you have some work to do.
Review Sales Data
Sales data can help you optimize your sales and customer service processes and the number of new customers you get.
In this step, collect and organize all the data you have on existing and prospective customers. This can include data from your CRM system, sales reports, and customer feedback.
One key area to focus on is your sales pipeline. By tracking leads, you can identify where they are getting stuck. Then, you can figure out how to improve the sales process to convert these leads into customers.
Another area to focus on is your existing customer base. Customer data shows you which segments are the most profitable. You will also see which segments are at risk of churning and which ones make the most repeat purchases. As a result, you can do a better job of meeting customer needs.
Besides analyzing your own sales data, you can use external data sources to gain insights into your competitors. This can include industry reports, market research, and social media analytics. This process will help you keep up with industry trends and remain competitive.
Monitor Brand Performance
In today’s fast-paced business world, businesses must have a growth strategy in place. But having a strategy isn’t enough. You must make sure it is working.
It’s easy to get sidetracked by day-to-day operations and lose sight of your long-term goals. By monitoring your strategy, you can stay focused on the big picture.
A routine brand audit can help you do just that. So, consider performing an audit each year, and include quarterly reviews to make sure your business stays on track for success.
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The Brand Auditors: A Unique Audit Methodology
You’re a marketing director or business owner who is ready to take your company to the next level.
But where do you begin? The online world of digital marketing can be overwhelming, confusing, and downright inaccurate. And even if you get professional help, how can you be sure they will deliver the results you want?
That’s where The Brand Auditors comes in.
We are your brand advocates, not a marketing agency. We protect your interests while delivering strategic recommendations to help you develop a growth strategy that actually works.
We know that every business is unique, which is why we take the time to understand your brand's purpose and goals before making the first recommendation. Our team of experts will work with you to create a customized plan that fits your needs and budget. From the marketing plan to the customer experience and beyond, we’ll deliver the best brand audit results possible.
Click on the button below to set up a free discovery call.
Are you ready to find out how a brand audit can transform your business?
Our brand audit process is a comprehensive analysis designed to help companies increase ROI and reduce marketing expenses.
- Increase ROI on lead generation and sales conversions.
- Reduce marketing expenses.
- Strengthen brand positioning to become more competitive.
We guarantee satisfaction or get your money back! Schedule a discovery call with a brand auditor to find out more.
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