How to Do a Brand Audit: The CMO’s Step-by-Step Guide to Brand Transformation

Transform your brand with this comprehensive, step-by-step guide designed for CMOs. Learn proven techniques to conduct a brand audit that evaluates brand performance, uncovers actionable insights, and drives meaningful change.

POST UPDATED:

July 3, 2024

How to Do a Brand Audit

A brand audit can help a company:

  • Assess its strengths and weaknesses to create a competitive edge.
  • Discover customer perception and its impact on the business.
  • Develop valuable insights and strategies for entering a new market.
  • Optimize operating and digital marketing expenses.
  • Improve overall performance in the competitive landscape.

In this post, you will learn how to do a brand audit. All recommendations and strategies discussed have been tested in real-world scenarios.

Table of Contents

    What is a brand audit, and why is it important?

    A brand audit is an assessment of a business's current market position. Sometimes, it includes a review of a company's brand strategy and marketing. The goal is to gain actionable insights to help enterprises improve efficiency, competitiveness, and brand alignment.

    The brand audit process: Creating goals

    The first step in the audit process is to define goals. We recommend assigning a project leader to keep communication open. This person should have experience managing teams, timelines, and data.

    The project leader should meet with brand departments to determine their most pressing issues. Team feedback will guide the project leaders in developing the audit framework.

    Here are some questions you might use to conduct these discussions:

    What is the company's primary growth obstacle?

    What are the brand's strengths and weaknesses?

    How do competitors outperform us?

    Do customers see how we are unique? If not, how can we differentiate?

    How does each department assess brand performance?

    Setting brand audit goals

    Create key objectives

    Do you want to grow your market, develop customer loyalty, or create a new marketing plan?

    Questions like these help you set audit goals. Once you have set objectives, deciding which areas to audit will be easier.

    Key performance indicators help you measure the audit results. So, having them in place is critical before you begin.

    For example, you might measure:

    • Social media analytics include likes, shares, and comments on social media posts. These KPIs might help you assess and increase brand awareness.
    • Website analytics reveal traffic sources, page bounce rates, and user behavior. Web analytics can also help you measure online visibility and customer experience quality.
    • Brand value is the perceived worth of the brand itself in the minds of consumers. The premium customers will pay for your products is an indicator of a brand's value.
    • Customer satisfaction scores can help you assess your brand reputation and customer service quality.
    Setting Brand Audit KPIs
    Setting Brand Audit KPIs

    Elements of a brand audit

    There are two principal components in brand development: internal and external branding. Your audit should include a review of both.

    Internal branding

    The internal brand develops through the company culture, mission statements, and values. When employees believe in what the organization stands for, they become ambassadors for it.

    The internal brand shapes how teams present the company to the public. It also has a dramatic effect on productivity and morale. Organizations with strong internal brands attract in-demand talent, giving them an advantage over competitors with high turnover.

    To conduct an internal audit:

    • Use employee surveys to measure how they perceive your brand. To find out what they think, you can ask them questions like:
      • How would you explain the company's brand promise?
      • What is the most significant value the company offers its customers?
      • Can you explain the company's unique value proposition?
      • How does your role impact the company's future?
    • Communication reviews reveal how well teams and departments communicate with each other.
    • Interviews with department leaders can uncover the internal brand's strengths and weaknesses.

    External branding

    The external brand is the public-facing side that reflects how the market perceives you. The broader market includes customers and competitors.

    Here are some examples of external brand elements:

    • The logo
    • Website
    • Social media presence
    • Customer service
    • Advertising campaigns

    Building trust with the target audience is easier when the internal and external brands align. An audit will ensure this alignment.

    Internal vs. External Branding Examples
    Internal vs. External Branding Examples

    Brand positioning framework: A review of strengths and weaknesses

    Part of your brand audit includes a review of brand positioning.

    The goal of positioning is to:

    • Develop affinity with the target audience via a positive brand reputation.
    • Create and sustain a competitive advantage by developing differentiation.

    Based on these goals, the core elements of a positioning strategy are:

    1. The target market: These are the people you want to reach and convert into paying customers. How they feel about your brand will determine if they buy from you.
    2. Competition: Competitors affect your ability to perform. A brand must be unique, or it risks becoming a commodity.

    Here are some questions used to assess positioning:

    What unique value can you offer that competitors cannot?

    How can you prove that the value you offer is unique?

    Where does the price of your product or service fit in among competitors?

    Is your brand identity (i.e., logo, tagline) distinct? Is it easy for customers to distinguish?

    Are you targeting the potential customers who best align with the brand's value?

    How to Position a Brand

    You need a strong brand positioning strategy to stand out in a crowded market. Learn how to position a brand and make a lasting impression on customers.

    Brand reputation

    The concept is simple: A positive reputation attracts customers, and a negative one pushes them away.

    Customer sentiment analysis is the best way to gauge brand reputation. To do that, you can check:

    • Social media: Are comments positive or negative? Does the company respond promptly and professionally to complaints?
    • Search engines: Search online for news articles, blog posts, and related content. Do these paint a positive or negative picture of the business?
    • Review sites: You can read reviews on Yelp or Trustpilot. Is the average rating higher than 4.5 stars? Customer feedback is critical to a company's reputation.

    Keep in mind that reputation is a primary influencer of brand equity.

    Consumers say transparent communication has become more important

    Target market analysis

    Organizations must target the most profitable customers to achieve sustainable growth. Otherwise, customer acquisition costs will be too high, and engagement will be low.

    An audit should include a profitability analysis of each target customer segment. The goal is to determine whether you are currently targeting the best audience. If not, you may need to adjust your buyer personas.

    To evaluate profitability, review each segment's:

    • Desire or need for your product (the stronger, the better)
    • Factors that influence consumers' decisions to buy (i.e., cost-consciousness, desire for status)
    • Ability to pay (i.e., Can they afford your product?)

    A segment that generates high revenue is not always the most profitable if the cost to get them is also high. Revenue-based metrics, like the ones listed below, can help you analyze profit potential:

    • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
    • Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)
    • Cost Per Acquisition (CPA)
    SWOT Analysis

    Conduct a brand audit competitor analysis

    Competition affects everything an organization does. So, it pays to know your brand's strengths and weaknesses compared to competitors. In this phase, you will examine your top competitors and use the insights to adjust your growth strategy.

    Direct competitors have similar offers and target the same customers. As a result, they influence your product development, sales processes, and marketing strategy.

    An indirect competitor has an offer that can be an alternative or substitute for yours.

    Choose three to five direct competitors for analysis. Fewer than three may not provide enough information, and more than five can complicate this step.

    To explore your competitors' strengths and weaknesses:

    • Review their visual identities. This includes the logo, tagline, colors, value proposition, and brand messaging. Assess each one for its uniqueness and individuality.
    • Evaluate their offers. Note their product features, pricing, and benefit claims. This information helps you understand how they position themselves and who they target.
    • Study their marketing strategies. Look at everything they use for promotion to understand how they connect with audiences. Study websites, advertising campaigns, content marketing, social media profiles, and other marketing channels.
    • Assess their online reputations. Read reviews, customer ratings, and social media comments. You will learn how their customers feel about them, what they like, and what they don't.

    Competitor analysis is invaluable. Some of the best insights and strategies we have used to help our clients came from studying competitors.

    4 Types of Pricing Strategies (Click to expand)

    The customer experience

    The customer experience (CX) refers to the public's interactions with a business. CX begins with awareness and never ends. It covers everything from sales presentations to buying a product to getting help from customer service.

    For example, consider a customer who purchases a product from your online store. This person would have to use your website to learn about products and buy them using the checkout page. Once they buy, they should receive the product on time and as promised. At some point, they may have to contact customer support to get help. All these interactions work together to build a relationship with the customer.

    Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a popular measure of customer experience. NPS gauges customer loyalty by asking them how likely they are to recommend a brand to others. The score is usually based on a scale of one (worst) to ten (excellent).

    Reviewing customer service policies to ensure they align with your marketing and sales processes is also a good idea. Consistency is the foundation of a positive customer experience. Approximately 73 percent of customers said they would switch to a competitor after one bad experience with a brand.

    IMAGE: The impact of a positive or negative customer experience (Click to expand)

    The marketing strategy audit

    Marketing can consume a significant part of a company's budget. For this reason, we recommend assessing marketing and your brand's online presence as part of an audit.

    Marketing assets

    Many customers will refer to your marketing collateral to learn more about your product or service. Again, consistency is crucial for every asset to be effective. Otherwise, you may confuse potential buyers.

    Examples of marketing assets are:

    Brand style guide

    Email campaigns

    Brochures

    Blog posts

    Videos

    Websites

    Social media channels

    Paid advertising campaigns

    Business cards

    When conducting an audit, check your marketing materials for conflicting messages, design flaws, and overall quality. This includes online and offline marketing assets.

    Here are some other factors to consider:

    • Content quality: Is the copy engaging, informative, and persuasive? Is it full of industry jargon that may confuse people? Does it help establish your authority?
    • Audience relevance: Does the content address customer needs and pain points?
    • Calls to action (CTA): Are they compelling enough to encourage people to take action? Would the CTA get your attention?
    • Conversion rate: Are marketing campaigns converting potential customers into actual buyers? Can you do anything to increase the conversion rate?

    Interpreting the data

    After finishing the audit and gathering the data, it's time to create an action plan. Data interpretation is an art and a science. The auditor must pay attention to detail and recognize patterns that can reveal valuable information.

    Here are some tips for interpreting audit data:

    Spot trends

    Look for recurring themes or patterns in your data. For instance, customer reviews praise one of your product's features but criticize its interface.

    Identify anomalies

    Watch for data points that deviate from the norm. These could signal potential problems or opportunities. For example, if you see a sudden increase in website visitors after a marketing campaign, test it again.

    Correlate data

    Look for relationships between unique sets of data. Perhaps regions with higher advertising spend have greater brand awareness and sales. This correlation could support the recommendation to increase the marketing budget.

    Benchmarking against competitors

    Compare your data with industry standards or competitor performance. If your competitors have better social media engagement, it may be time to change your strategy.

    The audit report (with an example)

    The final report includes all the details from the audit and summarizes the findings. It also provides actionable recommendations to help leadership develop an improvement plan.

    Like chapters in a book, each section of the final report should support and flow into the next.

    Sample brand audit report
    Sample brand audit report

    Are you ready to transform your company with a successful brand audit?

    Don't let your company fall behind. Schedule a free consultation and start seeing results.

    Chris Fulmer PCM-Brand Auditors

    Chris Fulmer, PCM®

    Brand Strategist | Managing Director

    Chris has over 15 years of experience in brand development and marketing. He has designed strategies across various industries, such as technology, B2B services, and healthcare. His expertise includes brand positioning, competitive analysis, content marketing, and web development.

    Click to learn more about Chris

    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 optimize performance.

    • 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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