The lifespan of brands is declining rapidly.
As opposed to 60 years ago, when the average lifespan of a company was around 60 years, brand longevity now reaches less than 18 years.
Many reasons factor into this somber statistic, but the main culprit of brands' failing to stay relevant is their inability to adapt and innovate.
Keeping up with trends is hard. It demands constant monitoring of the market, regular customer interactions, and seizing new opportunities.
There is, however, something you can do to build a long-term strategy ensuring the survival and thriving of your brand!
Brand audits, that's right!
Wondering what's that all about? Don't worry, we're here to guide you through all the intricacies of brand auditing and to provide you with actionable steps for success.
Table of Contents
What is a Brand Audit?
The Brand Audit is a thorough assessment of your brand's success in achieving set goals against the competition.
It is a study that shows how your brand is positioned in the market, what you're doing well and which areas need improvement.
By conducting brand audits, you'll be able to examine different aspects of your business strategies, such as:
- Brand values and messages
- Brand archetypes or the way brand values and messages are presented to your customers
- The products and services you're offering
- Visual brand elements
- Website and social media profiles
- Content marketing
- Search engine optimization
- Customer service
A brand audit will help you adjust these strategies to match your customers' expectations.
When Should You Audit Your Brand?
If you're reading this article, you're likely looking for ways to improve, innovate, or solve specific issues regarding your branding strategy.
One of the reasons why you could need a brand audit is if you think your brand is stuck "in the middle." In other words, if:
- You're having average results in meeting your objectives
- Things you're focusing efforts on don't matter to your customers
- You're struggling to innovate or keep up with the trends
You might need a brand audit. This kind of assessment will provide you with insight on whether you should redirect the focus of your business and give you the tools to do it.
In other words, if you're looking to further develop your brand in the future, a brand audit should be your cornerstone.
Apart from that, your brand might be struggling to recover after gaining a bad reputation. Brand audits could help save your brand image by identifying what fast-tracked your downfall.
It could be anything from poor customer service, problematic marketing materials, negative brand mentions on social media platforms, or something entirely different.
You could also benefit from brand audits if the analysis shows that the messages your brand is sending are inconsistent.
Cohesive and reliable brands appear more trustworthy to the customers, which is why a lack of brand cohesion leads to the loss of customer loyalty.
How To Do A Brand Audit?
Brainstorm The Topics That Require Analysis
To identify your market position and areas that need extra work, you have to determine what to analyze.
Our advice is to consider both the internal and external factors of your brand. One thing we found helpful in creating a brand audit framework was using flowcharts or mind maps.
Wondering what to include in them? Here are some of our tips:
- Business purpose
- Competition and what makes your brand stand against it
- Consumer's perception of your brand
- Target audience and what their user intent it
- Unique value your brand promises
- Products and services you're offering, their strengths and weaknesses and pricing
- Sales success rates
- What are your customer and employee satisfaction levels
You might also benefit from tapping into your marketing strategy plan. Consider the things that make your website perform well to identify what's lacking.
For example, if your website is easy to navigate, search engines will find it easier to crawl through its pages and identify relevant content.
Moreover, a website that is well-designed and functional is essential in creating the look and feel of your business. Make sure to check those things out!
Use Insights From Analysis To Set Objectives
Now that you've identified areas that need improvement, you need to set specific goals and formulate a plan on how to achieve them.
For this purpose, you might consider creating a customized brand audit checklist and filling it out with your objectives.
But before you do that, you need to figure out how to use the insights from your analysis to set your objectives. This step in your auditing process will depend on several things, including things like your:
- Target audience
- Their pain and gain
- Brand visibility and perception
- Market share
Another great way to set your goals and decide which ones should have a priority is to ask yourself: Which goals will have the biggest impact on my business?
Once you get the answer, you'll need to create a step-by-step plan on how to achieve your goals.
You might find it helpful to break that plan up into smaller individual tasks and assign people responsible within your team to each of those tasks.
Lastly, you'll need to set metrics and deadlines to track your progress. This way, you ensure that your plan is being realized in the way you intended it to be.
Review Your Marketing Materials and Online Presence
Ask yourself: which brand promotions are reaching my target audience? Which aren't?
What are the marketing materials that your customers find valuable and which influence them to put their trust in your brand?
It could be something attention-grabbing that makes your brand stand out, like your logo or brand colors. It could be a piece extending your brand's visibility, such as a brochure, a letterhead or a print advertisement.
It could even be the way you package your products! Did you know that 55% of consumers stop being loyal to a brand if its packaging deteriorates?
What's important is ensuring that the marketing materials your brand uses are consistent, both visually and in the message they send.
The way to know that is to look into the way your target audience is engaging with them.
That's why you need to review your online presence. That includes reviewing your website and your social media profiles.
What are you looking for? Here's some guidance:
- Where's your audience coming from? Are they coming from different regions of the world? If they are, are you in need of global branding?
- Is the audience you're attracting your target audience?
- How long are visitors staying on your website? What are they clicking on? What is making them leave?
- Are they buying your products or services? Where in the process of completing a purchase are they deciding to stop?
- Which influencers are linking to your website?
- What is the public opinion surrounding your brand and its products?
- How are users interacting with your brand on social media platforms? What kind of comments are they leaving?
Use this insight to improve your social media marketing strategy and your SEO strategy.
Surveys are an excellent way to identify the market and the ideal target audience ideal for your new products. They're one of the greatest assets in strategizing new releases.
The first persons you should survey are your customers. Reach out to them through your website, social media pools, or emails to gain insight into:
- Their brand perception
- Whether they'd recommend your brand to their loved ones
- How satisfied they are with your customer services and
- Which areas need improvement.
For example, you might learn that your customers' perception of your brand logo doesn't match your intention. This kind of information can help you improve your branding strategies and brand books.
Then, talk to your potential customers. People who haven't heard of or haven't used your brand.
See how they'd describe your brand and how it makes them feel. This is important for creating a strategy to get new customers.
Finally, talk to your employees. They're the people representing your brand, so you want to make sure that they understand the brand's vision and unique selling proposition.
And not just that – they usually have great ideas on how to improve the brand's image, so they're worth listening to!
Assess Your Competition
Do you know those marketing materials and that online presence of yours that we've told you to assess? Great, now do the same with your competition.
And don't stop at that. While surveying your customers, potential customers, and employees about your brand, ask them what they think about your competition as well.
Competitive monitoring is important if you want to understand why the consumers in your target market respond to your competitors instead of you.
Is it their products? Is it their pricing? Or is it their marketing strategy?
Identify their strengths and learn from them. Identify their weaknesses and take advantage of them.
Finally, don't forget to compare the findings regarding your competition with those regarding your brand.
Statistics show that businesses analyze only about 12% of their data, which is problematic as this kind of comparative analysis is essential in identifying threats and new opportunities.
What Are The Benefits Of A Brand Audit?
One of the benefits of a brand audit is that it gives insight into things you're doing well and things you aren't. By knowing which efforts aren't giving results, you can build a corrective strategy around them.
For example, you might have a lot of unopened emails. A brand audit may help you understand the reason behind this.
Perhaps your subject lines are ineffective. Maybe your email newsletter is not specific or personalized enough. Or maybe your target audience has changed over time and content has become completely irrelevant to them.
Generally, a brand audit might help you improve your marketing communications.
Brand audits are also great for increasing brand awareness. Surveys conducted during these audits can tell you how your customers perceive your brand and your products.
By interacting with your customers and understanding their consumer perceptions, you'll be able to identify the opportunities and challenges for your market position.
In doing so, you'll be able to lower your churn, increase your sales rates, and spend less money on attracting new consumers.
Another benefit of a brand audit is that it may show you the weaknesses of your brand identity.
Whether it's your website design that's poor, your logo, the colors, or the images that you use, after a brand audit, you'll know the necessary steps to take to become clearer in communicating what your brand stands for.
Finally, brand audits have a huge potential to increase the value of your company.
The insight they provide extends to your brand's market position, business structure, target audience intent, customer satisfaction, and so much more. This insight will help you identify your unique selling propositions and strengths.
Things To Do After Auditing Brands
You've already put so much hard work into Brand Audit, but there are a couple of extra steps you still need to take.
First, you need to take action to implement those improvements.
That means taking a comprehensive look at all the data you've collected and then sorting through it. This will help you identify the important data regarding your brand's strengths and weaknesses.
Once you've identified what matters, you'll want to determine how it aids you in reaching your objectives.
Does it help you reach your target audience? Does it help you generate leads? Will it help you build more effective brand awareness?
With a goal in mind, you're left only to set a realistic schedule for your plan and take actionable measures towards making it a reality.
However, don't forget that the marketplace is a dynamic environment. Your competition will be doing these audits too, and they'll be innovating to stay at the top of the game.
That's why you need to:
- Consistently monitor the effects of your implemented changes
- Review the results
And repeat the Brand Audit process every once in a while, to ensure that your strategies are still relevant and effective.
Brand Audit Summary
Progress in business demands continuous learning, creativity, understanding of your customers and your competition, as well as exceptional customer service. It demands that you accept your failures and learn from them, as well as make the most of your successes.
If you're looking for a way to keep your brand relevant and successful, brand audits are not a choice. They are a necessity.
Use our guide to conduct an effective analysis of your brand's performance and reap the benefits of your hard work.