How to Do a Brand Audit
Learn how to do a brand audit to uncover your company's strengths and weaknesses. Our free brand audit checklist will help you with the process.
February 26, 2023
Do any of these problems sound familiar?
If so, it might be time for a brand audit.
In this post, I will provide a framework you can use to conduct an in-house brand audit.
But before I go any further, I want to clarify what a brand audit is and why it is important to perform one each year.
What Is a Brand Audit and Why Is It Important?
Small business owners, corporate executives, and marketing teams sometimes need an objective view of their organizations in order to develop a better growth strategy.
A brand audit is a detailed analysis of a business’s performance in the market landscape. Companies can use what they learn from an audit to improve several areas of operation. Marketing, sales, and service processes are examples.
Organizations (for-profit and non-profit alike) can rely on audit insights and recommendations to create baselines for growth goals, improve products or marketing campaigns, and even decide if it is time to rebrand.
Businesses that perform a routine brand audit are better equipped to adapt to marketplace challenges.
The audit process enables brand leadership, marketing directors, and customer service departments to take a deep dive into how well the company is functioning. An audit project will reveal how competitive the brand is, whether departments are operating efficiently, and if communication with customers is working to strengthen relationships.
The final audit report provides insights and recommendations that enable a company to capitalize on its strengths and improve areas of weakness. Examples of audit insights include a review of the sales process, customer service experience, business image, competitive landscape, and marketing initiatives.
What Is a Brand Audit?
Organizations can use brand audit insights to improve target audience quality and become more competitive while lowering marketing expenses.
Do You Need a SWOT Analysis or a Brand Audit?
A SWOT analysis and a brand audit are two valuable tools used by organizations to improve their growth strategy. However, they are different processes with unique goals.
A SWOT analysis is an assessment of a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. We often use this process in strategic planning exercises and when a company is trying to figure out how to improve its competitive positioning.
The Brand Auditors offers an analysis that provides more information that the typical SWOT process by including a review of a company’s external and internal branding. However, this analysis is not as thorough as a complete audit.
A good way to determine whether your company needs a brand analysis (SWOT) or a brand audit is to consider what you would like to achieve. A brand analysis will give a quick overview of what is working and what isn’t. But a brand audit would be best if you want an in-depth understanding of your brand’s impact on the market, customer sentiment, competitive positioning, and how to improve ROI on marketing campaigns.
Both methods are effective. The Brand Auditors includes a SWOT or brand analysis in all comprehensive audit services.
How to Do a Brand Audit
I will outline each step of the audit process in the sections that follow. I have also organized the audit steps in this post to create a practical workflow.
Before you begin, it is critical to assign roles to the parties involved with the audit. If you are conducting an internal audit, create a description of responsibilities for each team member. This will help your organization develop a better audit strategy, avoid miscommunication, and allow you to complete the project in a timely manner.
Define Brand Audit Goals
The first step in the brand audit process is to define its goals. You may find it helpful to hold a few brainstorming sessions in the weeks leading up to the audit. The marketing manager or audit team leader can develop topics of discussion (or an audit questionnaire) that will shed light on the current issues the company is facing and what audit findings matter most to each department.
Here are some questions you might use to conduct these discussions:
The audit team should also answer questions like:
Once you have identified your goals, you must then determine how you will establish a baseline for results.
Determine the Metrics You Will Use
To measure how well a tactic is working, you need a baseline metric. The same goes for a brand audit.
To develop metrics for your audit, you must consider what data will be most helpful in assessing the success of your branding efforts. Many companies develop an internal scoring system for each step of an audit. Other businesses use technical data such as website bounce rate, social media follower counts, customer retention rate, or customer satisfaction scores—all of which can be tracked.
Establishing metrics enables your team to measure the impact of changes to the brand or marketing strategy. Tracking metrics also allows a brand to detect an issue and adjust quickly when performance lags. Over time, companies will save thousands of dollars they would otherwise have wasted on sub-par strategies and tactics.
Clarify Brand Purpose
A strong purpose is an internal branding element that gives your organization a sense of mission. A brand with clear purpose is better equipped to show customers why they should choose it over competitors.
Brainstorm ideas with other team members for specific terms that accurately describe the heart of your company. These terms are sometimes called brand attributes and describe the essence of the brand and why it exists.
A distinct brand persona sets your company apart from others. Many of the world's leading brands are not just known for their products, but their mission and values. Harley-Davidson, Apple, and Toms Shoes are examples.
Companies that balance these three aspects—mission, core values, and distinct personality—will experience more growth and customer loyalty.
Assess Target Audience Segments for Profitability
For organizations to optimize ROI on a business strategy, they must target the right customers. Otherwise, they will be forced to spend more to acquire each customer.
There is a direct link between the quality of the target market, audience, and conversion rate. Therefore, companies should assess each customer segment for profitability. During an audit, brands should re-examine their current and potential customer base to make sure they have specified key characteristics and behaviors, including interests and preferences.
To perform an audience analysis, companies should review customer feedback (i.e., customer service reports and reviews) to better understand their needs, desires, and attitudes. This will help you determine whether you are meeting (preferably, exceeding) customer expectations and to what degree.
Conduct Customer Surveys
Whether you have access to a wealth of audience data or not, customer surveys are an excellent way to get the feedback you need for an audit. By asking for customer opinions, you can find out what they like and dislike. As a result, you will uncover several potential improvements to your business, product, or service. Another benefit of customer feedback is that you may get ideas for new products and services or other revenue-generating opportunities.
It is important to remember that the information and insights you gain from customer sentiment analysis are more important than the survey method you choose to use. Some businesses have limited access to customers, while others have an entire database of consumer and panel data.
You can use services like SurveyMonkey or Typeform to create cost-efficient customer email surveys. You are much more likely to get detailed feedback from customers by asking open-ended questions. Surveys that are easy for everyone to comprehend and complete yield higher response rates and more accurate data.
Assess the Company Culture
Next, it is time to assess the company's culture to understand the core beliefs and values that fuel your organization and how they integrate into its branding.
In this step, you will discover how people inside your organization feel and how (or if) that contributes to the brand's value. As a simple example, if your company mission is to bring change to the marketplace with a higher standard of quality, then everything you do outside the brand should support that mission. In this case, you might review marketing materials and customer service policies to make sure there is an alignment between the internal brand and external communication.
People are the heart of a business. No company can assess its culture without understanding how employees perceive the company, its mission, vision, products, and services.
An employee survey is managed similarly to a customer survey. Ask open-ended questions to learn how employees feel about working for the brand. Questions should provide insight into employee attitudes toward customers, competitors, management practices, and the future of the company. Collecting honest feedback from employees will allow you to identify any pending issues or concerns that might lead to low employee morale and high turnover.
How to Position a Brand
An effective brand positioning strategy keeps a brand relevant and competitive while optimizing operational efficiency.
Your competitors have a significant impact on your brand. They influence your company's product development, pricing, advertising budget, and several other aspects of the business strategy.
A brand audit includes a competitor analysis that will show you how your company is performing versus other businesses in your market sector. As a result, you will be able to identify the existing challenges your brand must mitigate to establish greater differentiation.
A competitor analysis report summarizes their strategies, products, experiences, and messaging compared to yours. To guide your research, it is advisable to set some specific parameters. These could be related to the pricing model used or channels competitors use to communicate with customers. The purpose of setting competitive analysis parameters is to get an accurate, apples-to-apples comparison.
Here are some examples of competitive analysis parameters:
The more parameters there are, the more reliable the results.
Brand Positioning Map
A brand positioning map is an effective and creative exercise that enables you to identify where your business stands compared in relation to competitors. Mapping will allow you to get a bird's-eye view of the competitive market landscape. As a result, your company can make adjustments or create strategies as needed.
To create a positioning map, start by developing a list of criteria that are important differentiators in your industry. Prices, product or service features, and external branding are examples. Evaluate each competitor against these criteria. Then, rate each of them on a numerical scale (i.e., 1-10). A rating system will make it easier to conceptualize each competitor's position. Use the data from the positioning map to assess how your company measures up to the competition and what additional strategies might strengthen it.
Internal and External Branding
Internal branding refers to how a brand creates a connection with their employees and how they are executing the mission and goals of the organization.
Internal brand strategies involve making effort to create a positive work environment for staff, investing in employee training programs, improving internal communication systems, and building morale-boosting team events.
External branding is focused on building connections with customers outside of the business. It includes any activities that create public awareness and recognition for products and services. Advertising campaigns, social media outreach, and the visual brand are examples.
External strategies may include creating eye-catching logos and product packaging that will serve to identify the brand in customer markets, or advertising campaigns design to generate brand awareness and sales.
Review the Customer Experience
A positive customer experience is critical for companies that want to build higher lifetime customer value. Creating such an experience is not easy. The process requires a deep understanding of your customers’ wants and needs, as well as what factors they consider when making a purchasing decision.
The customer experience goes beyond the sale of the product or service itself. It includes everything from pre-purchase research and evaluation to post-purchase follow-up and satisfaction.
To perform this step of your brand audit, begin by mapping your customer journey from the moment they discover your brand to their most recent interaction with it. This includes interactions that take place on all channels—online, phone, or in person. Pay attention to the customer journey and identify the areas that need improvement. You can use what you learn from customer surveys and feedback to do this.
To give some examples, consider if there are any touchpoints where a prospective customer has difficulty understanding the value or features of products or services you can provide. Is there confusion around ordering or shipping? Does the website's shopping cart lead users to confirmation pages?
There can be several or dozens of potential customer touchpoints. Take your time and examine each, improving them in every way possible. The customer journey is a crucial part of a brand strategy.
Evaluate Marketing Assets
To evaluate marketing assets, go over each physical brand element. Logos, websites, ads, product packaging, brochures, and business cards are examples. The goal in this step is to figure out if your marketing assets are relevant, current, and support your brand message.
Analytics data, such as reach, engagement, and conversion rates, can be used to assess the performance of your materials. Analytics should support your findings and will enable you to measure the impact of future changes you might make to marketing assets.
Review Brand Messaging
Are you who you say you are?
That is the question to answer as you review your brand message to make sure it reflects your internal and external branding. Go over all of your social media posts, website content, and marketing materials to make sure your message is current and accurate. Check for phrases that are used often and determine whether they align with your business's core values. Consider cutting out any words or phrases that are outdated or no longer applicable to your current brand identity.
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Review Your Brand's Website
Your website is your online office and a powerful communication tool. The quality of your website will have a direct effect on how potential customers perceive you and your products or services. So, when auditing your site, make sure it conveys what you are as a company, the value you offer, and persuades people to choose your business over a competitor.
A website audit includes a review of design consistency. Sites should appear clean, consistent, and well-formatted. Be sure to find and fix any technical issues (i.e., broken links). Make sure all content is aligned with your brand's message. Scan and assess each page for easy consumption and for an effective call-to-action.
Explore Website Analytics
Website analytics are invaluable because they give you a deep understanding of who your website visitors are and what they do when they land on your site. Tracking metrics, such as the time on each page, total number of page views, device types, and geographic location, can be helpful.
By taking a closer look at user behavior, you can identify the content that keeps visitors on the site or if something needs to be improved (i.e., redesign or renovating content). Analytics will also help you identify trends in search terms will help you find content topics and keywords for new marketing campaigns.
Search Engine Optimization Analysis
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) analysis is also part of a brand audit and goes hand-in-hand with a website review. SEO helps draw more organic visitors to your website and helps your site rank on search platforms like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. An SEO analysis includes looking over keyword usage, rankings, and relevant backlinks to gather data you can use to improve your SEO strategy.
SEO requires technical skill and expertise in data analytics, on- and off-page SEO tactics, and search engine ranking factors.
Click here to get in touch with us if you need help with SEO Analysis.
Review the Marketing Strategy
One of the most time-consuming steps in a brand audit is a marketing strategy review. The process assesses how well your campaigns are performing. This includes several in-depth steps and will vary from one business to another, depending on the number of active marketing channels and campaigns.
Given the depth of a marketing strategy review, I have broken this step down by tactic.
Content Marketing Strategy Audit
Content is king in the Information Age. But not all content is created equal.
A content audit provides an accurate picture of your brand's content and the reach, engagement, and conversion potential of each piece.
To carry out an effective content audit, consider the quality, relevance, and impact of each piece of content. The resources (i.e., time and money) required to produce content are also critical to determine ROI.
There are several metrics you can use to assess the performance of your content. Some of them are:
A successful content audit is a combination of art and science. There are some tools you can use to audit your content.
Use each tool as a guide. You will have to use a combination of tools, metrics, and good judgment to assess the quality of your content.
Social Media Presence
Many brands struggle with social media. Though social media platforms are a cost-efficient way to connect with thousands of potential customers, the strategy differs from that of other marketing channels. Social media analytics will help your team design a better customer acquisition strategy on these platforms.
You can access data through your social media profiles that will help you measure engagement rates, demographics, sentiment, and trends in follower growth. User comments and feedback will tell you what customers think about your brand. And with targeted ads and A/B testing strategies, you can learn more about how your potential customers respond to your company's offers and content.
Social listening tools give brands access to conversations happening in the marketplace sector. This allows companies to adjust messaging and content development on social media.
Optimizing the advertising budget can be tricky. It is easy to spend a lot of money on paid ads before finding the best keyword and customer targeting strategies.
A review of paid advertising should be part of your brand audit process. This includes traditional advertising (i.e., billboards, print ads), search engine marketing, and social media ad campaigns.
To audit advertising, analyze and compare metrics, such as impression rates, click-through rates, and sales conversion rates for each ad. Note any trends you notice that might help you make adjustments and reach your target audience more effectively. These trends will reveal opportunities to improve specific ads and eliminate others.
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Online Brand Reputation
A brand's online reputation has a profound impact on its success. Check all of your company's social media accounts, associated websites, directory listing, and other platforms.
What do you see? Does your brand turn up when you search for relevant terms related to your organization?
It is also helpful to compare how your brand is performing on these platforms versus competitors. You can do this by reading over social media comments and reviews. Track any mentions of your company across various forms of media—from customer complaints and reviews to inquiries.
Brand associations create recall, ways customers remember, recognize, and emotionally 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 known as brand associations.
In this step of your brand audit, the goal is to develop an understanding of what words and images customers associate with your brand.
One of the most effective techniques for analyzing associations is to explore other brands your target customers like and buy. For example, if you notice that a significant portion of your customers drive luxury automobiles, you can explore the marketing campaigns luxury automobile brands use to gain insight into how to adjust your company's messaging and marketing campaigns to attract ideal customers.
Review Sales Data
Sales data is some of the most valuable information your company can review. Doing so allows you to identify customer preferences, track conversion rates over time, and how customers interact with your brand.
Begin by reviewing past customer surveys and repeat purchases. These reveal which products are purchased most, how often customers make additional purchases, and any areas that need to be improved.
Consumer research data, focus groups, and in-person or phone interviews will help you understand current and potential customers' experience with your brand and others in the category. These insights will help you determine what works best for reaching new leads and maximizing conversions.
Review the Audit Results and Develop an Action Plan
Once you have completed your brand audit, the next step is to review the results and develop an action plan to implement changes. This includes identifying each area of weakness and prioritizing solutions for each. You must also consider how you will communicate the changes, internally and externally, to customers, partners, vendors, and other stakeholders.
To confirm that each action is making a positive difference, create goals and objectives to help you achieve a desired outcome from each step in the plan. Also, add a timeline for implementing and monitoring progress against those goals and objectives. This process will enable your team to establish baselines for future reference.
Monitor Brand Performance
To keep your brand optimized, you must monitor its performance at all times. This involves several tasks, such as evaluating customer feedback on your products and services, watching competitors, and using analytics to track sales conversion rates, customer satisfaction, and progress against brand goals.
After a brand audit, your organization will be able to identify where to make improvements, better serve existing customers, and reach new ones. Monitoring your brand's performance is a critical step in achieving success. So, we advise conducting a brand audit each year.
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The Brand Auditors: A Unique Audit Methodology
Businesses invest thousands of dollars in digital strategies to outdo their competition and fuel growth. But their marketing efforts sometimes fail to deliver results because:
We serve as brand advocates by placing your company's interests first and delivering tailored, strategic recommendations. Consequently, our success is linked to yours throughout the entire brand audit process.
The steps outlined in this post and the checklist I have provided are valuable tools you can use to conduct your own brand audit. But if you have questions or would like to find out how The Brand Auditors can help, email me personally at [email protected].
Until next time,
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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