How to conduct a brand audit and why you need one
There are many things in our life that need regular check-ups - our cars, our bodies, our teeth. But what about our brands? Shouldn’t they have regular examinations too?
A healthy brand is one of the most important assets you have. If your brand isn’t very strong or defined, it’s easy for customers to forget about you.
You want people to remember your brand, to buy from you again, and to recommend you to their friends. Your brand’s health is a critical part of your success. It’s important to not neglect it. Just like an annual physical can help you nip any looming health issues in the bud, a brand audit can ensure your brand, and therefore your business, is running smoothly.
What is a brand audit?
A brand audit is a thorough examination of your brand as a whole and an evaluation of its position in the marketplace. It is a way for you to review your brand, and identify how your brand is supporting your marketing and sales efforts, who your target audience is, what your competitors are doing, and the ways you are or are not meeting your customer’s needs. It also assesses your brand’s style and content.
Think of a brand audit as preventative maintenance. It allows you to monitor your brand’s performance and take action if and when various situations arise to prevent future breakdowns or emergencies.
How are brand audits helpful?
A brand audit enables you to identify your brand’s strengths and weaknesses. An objective, bird’s-eye view of your brand allows you to pinpoint and address any problem areas you may not have seen yourself. This way you can still turn them around before they escalate.
Brand audits also help you uncover opportunities for innovation and growth. By understanding what parts of your brand are doing well and which are not delivering, you will be able to create opportunities for improvement and set measurable goals to fulfill them.
The nuts and bolts of the process
A brand audit should always begin with a brand assessment. This will help you evaluate the strength of your brand and determine your brand’s positioning.
Your initial brand assessment should consider and assess the quality of your brand, how consistent you are across all your channels, and what value your brand brings to customers. It will evaluate how unique your current messaging and tone of voice are, along with your brand’s capabilities and future potential. This is also where you will list any visual guidelines and assets that are in place.
There’s a lot to keep track of, so it’s best to start by organizing your assessment. The easiest way is to separate your brand’s strategy elements from your brand’s identity.
Strategy vs identity
Brand strategy refers to the overall direction you want your brand to take. Think of brand strategy elements as the components that form the essence of your brand like your values, mission, and vision.
To gauge the existence and strength of these elements, ask questions like:
- Do my brand’s values and mission still reflect the current state of the company?
- Is my brand positioning clear and unique?
- Do I have a brand story that tells where we came from, who are we now, and what our future holds?
- What are my tone of voice guidelines?
- How does my brand strategy translate to my design, copy, and behavior of branded elements?
These strategy elements ultimately provide the foundation and direction for your brand’s visual identity and tone of voice.
Brand identity refers to the visual elements that form the identity and personality of your brand. This part of the brand audit involves assessing the availability and quality of features like your logo, color palette, fonts and typography, textures, palettes and gradients, icons, motion designs, photography, and any other interface design elements.
Checking out the competition
Finally, a brand audit should always position your brand in its current market context. That happens by researching competitors in your industry and any similar products and services offered by them.
This last section should outline your brand's performance. As you take a closer look at your brand, you will recognize which aspects make you unique. Those qualities will offer you a range of opportunities for differentiation and you can use them to generate actionable insights and find new ways to stay relevant.
Don't let your brand get stale
Businesses evolve and change all the time, and your brand should too. But you need to know what's going on with your brand to manage it effectively. A comprehensive brand audit will often reveal new growth opportunities, and innovative ways for your brand to engage your audience. Regularly conducting a brand audit will ensure that your most valuable asset is always operating at its peak performance.