A brand audit will help diagnose your brand’s ailments.
Just as a financial audit can bring clarity to a company’s financial health, a brand audit can discover the vibrant health, chronic conditions or the more serious maladies of a brand. Think of it as a check-up that doesn't involve rubber gloves.
Brand audits should take an inside out perspective.
When following a thorough process, a brand audit will be based on the view that robust brands are best built from the inside out. Some branding research gets off track by focusing on a single external audience – consumers, competitors or donors as an example. To be helpful and actionable, a comprehensive brand audit process assesses relationships with all key stakeholders of the brand and that must include both internal and external audiences.
Start your brand audit with secondary research.
Begin by gathering information that should be readily available such as current business and marketing/communication plans, annual reports, financial statements, analytics, research and surveys conducted with the last five years, bios of key people, samples of presentations, current marketing, communications or fundraising materials, media releases, social media content and websites. Search engines, events, associations and business networks can also be used to conduct secondary research on competitive brands.
Gather input from your own people first.
People inside your organization are the ones who will help deliver many aspects of your brand so, it makes the absolute sense to start by speaking with them. We normally recommend holding a series of small, facilitated discovery sessions that include board members, advisors, senior leaders, managers, salespeople, employees and other front line staff.
These internal perspectives and opinions are critically important to be aware of and consider.
Developing a questionnaire or discussion document for these discovery sessions helps to drill down into topics such as:
- Company or organization including its mission, performance and products and services.
- Customer, donor or market perceptions.
- Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.
- Communications and messaging.
- Sales process, customer journey and brand experience.
- Brand awareness, understanding and resonance or lack thereof.
- Larger organizations can also include an online survey.
Tapping into external audiences.
Once you’ve spoken to the people inside your organization and summarized your findings in a preliminary report, it’s time to reach out to external audiences. These audiences can include current and past customers/donors, suppliers, business and community leaders, trade and consumer media, influencers and public officials. It’s important to include people who may never have had any interactions with your brand. You can choose to hold brand discovery sessions, one-on-one interviews or online surveys. It’s recommended that these external audience perception gatherings be conducted by a third-party as opposed to an employee of the brand.
Some of the topics you want to discuss with external audiences could be:
- Brand awareness both aided and unaided
- Brand benefits including rational and emotional
- Brand positioning and differentiation
- Brand quality versus other brands
- Brand touchpoints in terms of consistency
Delivering the Brand Audit Report
Finally, a brand audit should be wrapped up with a written report or, at a minimum a formal presentation that summarizes the findings and makes a series of recommendations to address brand issues, opportunities, vulnerabilities and gaps.
Some of the areas included in the brand audit report would be:
- Brand environment including trends, regulatory changes, challenges, disruptions, health and sustainability of the market.
- Brand category and how and where the brand fits in in terms of awareness and preference.
- Audiences including current and potential supporters of the brand be they customers, donors or influencers.
- Competitors both direct and indirect.
“A brand audit is how you diagnose what may be ailing a brand and get it on the road to a full recovery”
Where our brand audit services will help.
We’ve helped not-for-profit, healthcare, hospitality, and commercial organizations get a better sense of the health of their brands by using steps like the ones mentioned above. Every client has its own particular brand audit needs so our process is flexible and takes into account a number of factors such as size and maturity of the brand and available resources.
Some benefits you can expect from going through our brand audit process and implementing recommendations are:
- Greater clarity around vision and focus from internal and external perspectives.
- Increased understanding of a brands competitive advantages and points of differentiation.
- Deeper understanding of primary, secondary and tertiary audiences including awareness and attitudes.
- More consistent messaging to all audiences across the brands marketing and communications.