What Is a Brand Audit? [And When to Conduct One]

Want your brand to stand out? Analyze your brand's position in the marketplace with a comprehensive brand audit. Read this guide to learn more.

October 26, 2023

What is a brand audit
  • Do you want to attract and hire better employees?
  • Would you like to enter new markets?
  • Do you want to get the highest ROI possible on marketing campaigns?
  • Do you need a brand refresh or a total rebrand?

Many companies blame the saturated marketplace for lagging growth. But the problem often isn't with the number of competitors or customer buying trends. It's brand drift.

Drift occurs when a company's marketing doesn't align with its vision and brand value. Companies that recognize brand drift early can adjust without much disruption. But if drift goes on too long, it can create some expensive problems.

It's common for businesses to make frequent adjustments to their brand strategy. But making adjustments without careful planning can take a brand off its course. The shift is often so gradual that the company doesn't even realize it's happening.

Deviate enough, and before you know it, your brand has lost its true north. Even the most loyal customers who have dealt with your business for a long time may feel alienated.

So, before you cut prices or pump more money into the marketing budget, consider a brand audit.

The Real Reason for Brand Drift

Business owners and executives spend a lot of time managing day-to-day operations. I know because I do it too. But, because we are so busy with our business, we can struggle to communicate with customers.

Here's why:

We often assume our customers appreciate the value of our product or service more than they actually do.

It's easy to underestimate the customer's ability to assess the value of our product. As a result, we overestimate how simple and clear our brand messaging must be. And we often think customers make their decisions quicker than they do.

It can take up to eight touchpoints or more for the average sales process to convert a qualified lead. In reality, people don't buy on the first or second contact. Instead, they need several interactions with your brand before they buy from it.

Customers are busy. And they have thousands of brands from which to choose. People must be able to see your brand's value immediately and without making much effort. Otherwise, they will look for a competitor that does a better job of communicating.

Brand clarity refers to an organization's ability to define its purpose, mission, and value. Clarity is critical for a brand to communicate what it does, for whom, and why it is unique.

Organizations that lack brand clarity struggle to:

  • Communicate company values
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Create differentiation
  • Overcome price resistance
  • Sustain long-term growth

A brand audit looks at where a company is now and its marketing plan to help it get clear again. The audit process also reveals how your brand is performing and the best way to achieve strategic objectives.

What Does the Brand Audit Process Include?

An audit should include an analysis of a company's brand identity, processes, and competitive position.

Tone and messaging should also be part of an audit. It's essential to identify what the brand stands for, who it helps, and its authenticity.

In today's digital world, your online reputation is important to your long-term success. So, an audit should include an analysis of everything that helps to form a brand's reputation. Reviews, social media engagement, and public relations are examples.

Competitive analysis is yet another crucial aspect of a brand audit. Exploring your competitors' strengths and weaknesses shows you how to improve your brand strategy.

Let's look at each area of an audit in more detail.

Internal Branding

Internal branding elements form the brand's essence—its mission, vision, and company culture. These keep the company focused on the organization’s long-term purpose and goals.

Some examples are:

  • The brand promise
  • Brand values
  • Archetype

A business that aligns its internal branding with its purpose will thrive. Employees are more productive. Customer loyalty tends to be stronger. These strong brands also encounter less selling pressure than weaker competitors.

External Branding

External branding refers to the tangible elements the target audience experiences. The visual identity, website, social media profiles, and marketing materials are examples.

It's critical for a company's branding to align with the target audience's preferences.

For instance, consumers expect a luxury brand to have certain qualities, such as exclusivity. So, a company that sells luxury products should have a visual identity and persona that exudes that characteristic. A brand audit can help a company identify these qualities through a review of the industry category and relevant competitors.

The key is not to duplicate other brands in the sector. It's to incorporate certain elements in the company's branding to enhance its appeal.

Internal vs. External Branding
Internal vs. External Branding

The Customer Experience

The customer service experience refers to what happens during and after the sale. Marketing, sales, problem resolution, and advocacy programs are all part of this experience. A poor customer service experience creates higher customer turnover.

An auditor will often conduct internal discussions with marketing, sales, and service teams. These conversations can help companies identify and correct problems with the customer experience.

Why You Should Conduct a Brand Audit

There are several benefits of a brand audit. The purpose is to improve the brand's overall effectiveness in the marketplace.

Here are specific areas analyzed during an audit:

  • Business goals
  • Competitive position
  • Visual identity
  • Revenue opportunities
  • Paid advertising optimization
  • Communication strategy
  • Brand assets and marketing materials
  • Market segments
  • Buyer personas
  • Product portfolio
  • Social media presence

Now, let's review some of these benefits in more detail.

How to Do a Brand Audit [A Guide for In-House Marketers]

Conduct a brand audit to discover your company's strengths and weaknesses, reduce marketing expenses, and build a strong market position.

Brand Positioning

If your business is like most, you have thousands of competitors. So, your company must be innovative to sustain a competitive advantage. But you can’t know how to compete until you know what you're up against.

A brand audit allows a company to assess its “place” in the market, called positioning. Several factors determine positioning, but the most common are:

  • Customer sentiment
  • Competitors’ brands

Customer Sentiment

How do your target customers feel about your business? Would they refer their friends or leave a bad review? Do they think of your product as a premium or economy brand?

The answers to these questions depend on customer sentiment.

Brands have some control over how customers perceive them. A business can develop its identity and build authority to influence the consumer’s perception.

But none of this guarantees favorable customer sentiment. That's why it's vital to explore behavioral analytics. These insights enable you to understand your audience and existing customer base.

There are several ways an auditor can understand sentiment. Social media polls, online surveys, and customer focus are the most common.

Competitors' Brands

It goes without saying that the competitive landscape affects everything you do. This includes your pricing strategy, audience targeting, and marketing initiatives.

Competitors set the bar for what a business must do to establish its desired market position. If a company wants to be perceived as a premium brand, it must determine how the market defines a premium brand. In this case, an audit would include an analysis of the industry category and competitors. The audit insights will give the company the information it needs to develop premium brand positioning.

New Revenue Opportunities

Every company is looking for ways to grow revenue. Sometimes, revenue increases come from new product offerings or target demographics. But often, a business increases revenue by optimizing existing product lines and services.

A brand audit can help companies discover new revenue opportunities. Here are a few examples:

  • Comparisons to competitor brands reveal improvement strategies for existing products. Trends may show consumer demand for new ones.
  • Market research provides insight into pricing. For example, it may be possible to raise prices while minimizing customer turnover.
  • An audit enables a business to discover potential add-on features for existing products. These can be converted into new revenue streams.

Digital marketing is complex. There's an overwhelming amount of information online, and much of it is inaccurate. And marketing agencies have varying skill levels, some are better than others.

These circumstances create challenges for businesses that want to leverage digital marketing. Many aren’t sure how to hold marketing professionals accountable or know what results to expect.

A successful brand audit resolves these problems by assessing the critical factors that affect marketing results.

Some examples are:

  • Buyer personas
  • Messaging
  • Advertising materials
  • Social media presence
  • Marketing channels

Sales Processes

Is your sales team efficient? Could they convert more sales with the same effort? If so, why? And can you do anything to reduce sales expenses while increasing profit per sale?

An auditor will review sales data to uncover trends related to conversion. These findings result in a shorter sales cycle and higher lifetime customer value.

The Customer Experience Process
The Customer Experience Process

Audit Your Brand to Create Marketing Goals and a Budget

Setting goals and budgets are difficult challenges for most organizations. Often, we find that the marketing budget is not enough to support sales goals. In other cases, brands don’t have a strategy for setting accurate goals. Others are wasting money on tactics that aren’t generating revenue.

An audit will enable a company to:

Develop accurate growth goals with a strategy for achieving them.

Create a marketing budget that aligns with the expected results.

Set an achievable conversion rate for marketing campaigns.

Increase return on investment on paid advertising.

The customer experience
IMAGE: Why Customers Leave Brands (SOURCE: Harvard Business Review)

How to Know If Your Company Needs a Brand Audit

Let's look at some of the best candidates for a brand audit.

Companies that are thinking of a complete rebrand.

It's amazing what small changes can do. Many businesses find new life just by making a few modifications to their existing brand.

By contrast, some companies should consider rebranding completely. This might be true when the target market or company's vision changes. Companies might rebrand to improve their reputation and increase brand equity. A rebrand may be in order after a merger or acquisition.

Sometimes, a business drifts so far off course that a complete rebrand is the only solution. A brand audit can help organizations determine if a rebrand is in order.

Businesses that want to optimize resources.

Managing resources is critical to long-term business success. Put too much into one area, and you may not have enough for others.

An audit can reveal areas of waste related to:

  • Marketing and advertising
  • Business operations
  • Customer service
  • Product packaging

Organizations that want to build a strong brand reputation and online authority.

In 2017, Google incorporated expertise, authority, and trust into its ranking algorithm. Over the last year, they added the "experience" element. The goal is to rank reliable, trustworthy websites and content in search results.

Likewise, businesses must build a strong reputation that people will trust. This is easier said than done. The process of building online authority is arduous. There are specific requirements a company must meet.

Much of what a company must do to build credibility has been determined by competitors. A brand audit includes competitor analysis. The insights give companies a step-by-step plan for building online authority.

Of course, a business's reputation goes far beyond the Internet. An audit will also explore other strategies a company can use to grow its value offline.

Organizations that want to improve customer satisfaction scores.

The experience customers have with a company is vital to its success. That's why brand processes must support one another to build customer loyalty.

During a brand audit, the auditor will assess customer feedback and other customer sentiment data. This allows the auditor to understand how a brand performs among its existing customer base. The final results enable a business to improve current and future customer relationships.

How Much Does a Brand Audit Cost? (4 Pricing Factors Revealed)

Our comprehensive guide on brand audit fees tells you everything. In under 2 minutes.

Do complimentary or low-priced brand audits offer value?

Some branding and marketing agencies perform complimentary or low-priced audits. They usually do this to sell other services such as web design, logo design, and ad management.

While these audits may offer some value, there is another crucial point to consider.

Agencies usually deliver audit results that generate more work for them. As an example, an agency might offer a free SEO audit. The audit usually finds SEO problems that need fixing. So, of course, the agency will include an offer for SEO services along with the SEO audit report.

So, if you're considering an audit, hiring a neutral, third-party auditor is best. This is the only way you can be sure that the audit results will be objective.

So, if you are considering an audit, hiring a neutral, third-party auditor is best. This is the only way you can be sure that the audit results will be objective.

Are you looking for expertise from a neutral brand audit firm?

The Brand Auditors delivers a unique experience. We serve clients as neutral third-party advocates and advisers. Our audit services include a holistic review of your brand and marketing strategies.

With our audit framework, you'll get a comprehensive assessment of your:

  • Products and services
  • Offers and pricing strategy
  • Visual identity
  • Target market
  • Website and SEO
  • Social media channels and analytics
  • Paid ads
  • Content marketing
  • Sales data

And more.

If you would like to find out how a brand audit can transform your business, click on the button to connect with an auditor.

Chris Fulmer

Chris Fulmer

Brand Strategist | Managing Director

Chris Fulmer is a professional brand development manager who provides expert insights on brand strategy, media channels, and other essential information required for marketing success. This includes market research, analytics analysis, and digital design best practices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have other questions? Click here to get in touch with us.

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.

Latest Insights

B2B Healthcare Marketing

B2B Healthcare Marketing in 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

Elevate your B2B healthcare marketing strategy with our comprehensive guide for 2024. Learn the latest trends and tactics on our blog.

Visual Audit

Perform a Visual Audit to Differentiate Your Brand

Elevate your brand’s visual strategy with a thorough visual audit. Our blog offers insights on how to improve your brand’s visual identity.

B2B Customer Journey

B2B Strategy: Build a Superior B2B Customer Journey

Do you want to identify B2B customer journey problems and opportunities? Find out how to develop a consistent B2B customer experience across all channels.