Branding does not end with creating your brand. In fact it never ends.
Brand is like a living thing that keeps growing and evolving. It has a unique personalities and its own set of characteristics. All that you need to do is nurture and guide it so that it fits into the environment perfectly. This is why you need to do a brand audit.
So then what is brand audit?
Speaking generally, brand audit is a process of analyzing your brand. You find out which characteristics and qualities are effective and which are not. You will have to look into many things such as:
Brand audit helps you check if your brand is in alignment with your goals. It enables you to find out how your stakeholders (including your customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders and the community that you serve) see your brand. Based on the results you can then take the necessary steps to make adjustments.
Brands tend to get less and less relevant over time. This can make it hard to figure out when exactly you have to update your brand.
Nevertheless, here are a few tell-tale signs that let you understand when it is time for a brand audit:
A brand audit becomes absolutely necessary once every year, no matter how big or small your business is.
Apart from helping you understand the health of your brand, a brand audit also helps in:
A brand audit helps you identify new opportunities in the market and improve your competitive existence. You get a deep insight into the portfolio of your brand and the structure of your business.
Apart from ensuring brand security, a brand audit also helps you maximize your returns on your investments. In short, it guides the future of your brand.
A brand audit is best done by involving a team of individuals, both from inside and outside of your business. Here are a few steps that will help you understand how to do a brand audit:
Step #1: Talking to your audience
The first step involved in the brand audit process is to start talking to your audience. After all they are the reason behind the existence of your brand.
You can start calling your customers randomly, connect with them through social media, or use your website to get in touch with them. However, before you do so, it is important to set a few standard questions which will give you a clear idea about what your brand means to them.
Apart from giving you the answers that you need, this exercise will help you connect with your audience at a deeper level and understand their expectations. Your audience here would include not just your customers but also your channel partners, distributors and any external sources that may be making it possible for you to run your business smoothly.
Step #2: Talking to your Employees
Your employees are an integral part of your brand. It is your duty to understand any issues they may be facing and see what best you can do to work over these issues. Ask for suggestions on how to make your brand better. Having a set of questions ready will help take things in the right direction:
Step #3: Reviewing your position
One of the basic brand audit steps is to find out where you stand as a brand, as against your competitors. The brand audit process can also help answer they question why you stand where you stand. You can then take the necessary steps to strengthen your brand name.
You may have to look at every aspect including your physical store, your website, and your social media analytics, without getting sidetracked by the numbers. This way you will know what is working and what is not.
You also have to take another look at the purpose, mission, and values of your brand and see if you still align with them.
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Step #4: Researching the Competition
Your brand is not the only one that exists in the market. Your customers and prospects have a lot of options to choose from in the marketplace. You have to find out what your competitors are up to and what you need to do, to catch up with them.
If your consumers are choosing your competitors over you, you will have to find out the reason that makes them do so. See if they aware of your unique selling proposition that sets you aside from your competitors.
You can do your research online, get some inside information, or even visit your competitors to find out what’s happening.
Step #5: Evaluating Your Strategies
Once you have figured out where exactly you stand in the market, it is time to take a look at your existing marketing strategies and analyze your performance. Here are a few things you need to consider while evaluating your strategies:
All this data will help you understand where you are and where you have to go, if you want to achieve your goals.
Step #6: Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses
Brand audit is not all about focusing on your weaknesses or loop holes of your brand. It helps you assess the positive as well as the negative aspects of your brand.
While it helps you figure out issues with your product, it also helps you understand your position in the market.
Positive points tell you how successful you have been in your efforts to reach the hearts of your consumers. Negative feedback tells you where you need to work on, in order to improve your brand experience across channels.
Step #7: Compiling and analyzing what you have
This step in the brand audit process is all about gathering your marketing materials and taking a look at them. Look into every printed material such as business cards, letterheads, and brochures and also into your blog, website, and analytics.
Step #8: Making an Action Plan
Once you have gathered all the information you need, it is time to decide what to do about it. And this usually is the toughest part of the brand audit process. There are three things you can do here:
Many brands go for the option three since it helps them adapt to the changing environment, while maintaining the brand for their loyal customers.
Once you have made your decision, it is time to come up with a complete action plan that rolls out all the changes. You will have to delegate the responsibilities clearly and include an extended timeline to execute your plan.
Whether you decide on complete rebranding or making a few adjustments, it is crucial that you follow a well-thought out plan over a couple of months.
You also have to measure the result of such efforts to find out if the rebranding has been successful or if there is a need to make a few more adjustments.
To give you a brand audit example, this is what a brand audit looks like
As a process, branding is a recursive one that regularly responds to the environment.
To make sure this response is as expected, it is important to understand how to conduct a brand audit and perform one, every now and then, so that you can measure your performance against your brand objectives.