It can sometimes feel that the biggest brands have done all the hard work early on and are still reaping the rewards years later. But have no fear, it’s usually the complete opposite. A mighty oak grows from a small acorn don’t ya know? But once you get there and even in the midst of growth, you have to have the right tools in place to maintain it- even established companies struggle to stay innovative and agile as they grow.
It takes a huge amount of work to stay at the top, with every status seeker trying to one up your brand. Continual monitoring of your brand (results and reporting against your target audience) provides an ongoing health check. It’s a good habit to be in and everyone must do this in order to maintain growth.
Performing a brand audit allows you to take a step back and look at the overall picture, which can lead to implementing a longer term strategy.
Whether benchmarking against competitors, considering a rebrand, or simply wanting a broader overview of performance and positioning, undertaking an audit can be a valuable exercise.
What is a brand audit?
A brand audit is a detailed analysis that shows how your brand is currently performing compared to its stated goals, and then to look at the wider landscape to check how that performance positions you in the market.
We published a blog post on this last month actually, you can view it here.
It all depends on your particular industry or company. No matter what you choose to measure, an audit should allow you to:
Establish the performance of your brand
Discover your strengths and weaknesses
Align your strategy more closely with the expectations of your customers
Understand your place in the market compared to the competition
One option is to hire it out. You can use, oh I don’t know, someone like us to conduct a comprehensive audit. Companies who do this may examine internal branding: your positioning, voice, brand values, culture, and your products/services. If you’re interested, contact us.
External branding can also be considered. Things like your logo and other brand elements, website, advertising, SEO, social media, sponsorships, event displays, news and PR and content marketing.
Perform your own brand audit
However, you can chose to audit yourself using the data that’s at your fingertips. There’s a wide range of metrics you can measure, but which ones are important will just depend on you.
So let’s start here:
1. Create a framework
You should start by looking at your mission and strategic objectives to create a framework.
You want to consider who are your target customers, the marketing plan to reach them, and the layout of the business landscape you operate in.
Some companies will be able to refer to their go-to market strategy. This consists of the overarching plan that includes target customers, their products or services, distribution channels, partnerships, competitors, and pricing.
Look at all your newsletter subscribers, instagram followers, etc.- who are they? What do they have in common? Are they a specific gender? A specific age group? Where are they located?
2. Question your customers
It can be easy to rely on web and social numbers alone, but this will not give a complete picture. You can conduct surveys by email, on your website or as part of the sales process. Services like SmartSurvey will let you create online questionnaires for free.
A mixture of quantitative and qualitative feedback will provide a more rounded view. Understanding the customer experience at each touchpoint will be an important part of your audit. Hearing from your customers will help humanize this whole audit process and provide an idea of how people perceive your brand.
And helpful hint, offer an incentive for your customer’s feedback. A percentage off their next purchase, a free gift, whatever- their feedback is invaluable to your business!
3. Review your web analytics
81% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase (going up to 94% in B2B cases), so the traffic to your website is an important and obvious place to start. Have a look at your web analytics program to discover how your website is performing.
Monitoring paid and organic channels is standard practice for working out if your SEO or display adverts are succeeding or need optimizing. You can also look deeper to see if traffic is coming from the markets you are targeting.
It’s also worth reviewing what is driving your traffic: it’s always a good idea to have a mix of sources in case there are any sudden drops in one area. An over-reliance on organic search could be undone by one simple Google update.
Obviously, conversions and conversion rates should always be looked at as well. A deeper analysis as part of your brand audit will tell you if you are attracting the right kind of traffic, and which types of content are working best.
If you’re looking for specific help in this area, we’re happy to help! We’d be happy to talk with you about this a little more in depth. Reach out to us.
4. Review social data
Social data can help further flesh out the overview of your brand, allowing your to see things about your audience that you couldn’t through other outlets.
The demographic information available through social media allows you to better understand your audience. You may want to reposition your messaging if your actual audience differs from your perceived audience.
Social intelligence tools like Brandwatch can be used to gain a deeper understanding of your customers, examining their interests outside your brand to inform marketing. Location-based social data can complement web location data.
You can find out who is linking to your website- just one way of uncovering influencers. Sentiment analysis allows you to gain an overview of the wider public opinion around your brand, or specific campaign or product.
All of these results will give you opportunities to reposition or highlight strengths, and answering the needs of the market.
5. Review sales data
Of course sales data will be at the forefront of your ongoing monthly reporting, but having that and then comparing it with the rest of the brand audit data will help to identify problem areas.
The review of the entire customer journey can bring out specific areas that are causing problems, or opportunities you’re not yet pursuing. This goes back to #2.
6. Look at your competitors
No brand exists in isolation. The final part of conducting a brand audit involves looking at your competitors to understand your place in the market. Yeah, we know, we know. Everyone tells you to not even pay attention, do your things and let the haters hate. But let’s be real. You have to know what you’re up against in order to have a successful plan of action.
There is an entire landscape of competitor analysis tools that will do a lot of the work for you. SEO and rankings, backlinks, content, adverts, rankings, traffic, emails and price tracking can all be investigated. Google analytics baby.
Social data can provide the same data about your competitors as your own brand and like we stated above, it’s pretty easy to access. Use those tools. You know the insights on your instagram and Facebook.
7. Take action and monitor results
A brand audit should highlight areas for action.
A detailed plan of findings should be followed by a series of actionable targets, with a timeline of expected results. So basically gather the information >>> create an action plan >>> have a deadline. After you have taken action on each area, monitor your progress and results.
An ongoing process of monitoring all of these things will tell if your goals are being reached, but you may want to repeat the audit process after a reasonable amount of time.
However you chose to go forward, keep in mind that the landscape will continue to change and brands need to continually update and innovate to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.
Looking for a hand in this whole process? We’re always happy to help. Contact us and let us know what you need!