Companies regularly perform financial audits to assess their financial health but often do not realize that a Brand Audit or assessment is just as important in determining the comprehensive true-health of a business.
Brand Audit benefits:
- Shows the current state – a snapshot of one’s brand and provides a check-up on brand awareness, brand knowledge, visibility, and perception
- Allows for the opportunity to assess brand strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
- Helps align perceptions company-wide so employees and managers understand and can articulate your organization’s primary brand positioning and messaging and smooth out inconsistencies
- Helps eliminate the disconnect between what companies believe their brand to be and what customers perceive it to be
- Helps align communications with an organization’s values and objectives, market opportunities, and customer’s needs
- Provides a benchmark on competitor brand strengths, weaknesses
- Provides a benchmark on customer and supplier perceptions
- Identifies customer needs, wants and trends at the category level
Brand audits take many forms, from simple to complex. There is no one magic style. Whatever the format, an audit’s focus always includes information about the company, the customer, the marketplace, and the brand. The use of an external consultant helps to remove personal in-house biases.
People & Company Audit
One-on-one interviews with company personnel at all levels of the organization. Includes front-line associates as well as executives and managers. A strategic sample of 10-20 individuals is a good start.
Typical questions vary by the group but include asking about:
- Who are key stakeholders, strategic alliances, co-branding partners?
- Company mission, vision and core values- Is everyone on the same page?
- Typical customer profile?
- Relevant industry information, reports, etc.?
- Marketing efforts that worked?
- Marketing efforts that fell short of expectations?
- How do you feel about the current brand experience?
- How valuable is the brand to users?
- How unique is brand relative to competitors?
- Brand points of parity, differentiation vs. competition?
- What would you change about the current brand experience?
- Internal touchpoints aligned? Included would be areas like reception, HR, customer service/problem resolution, office space image. An HR touchpoint might be to explore the process of followup and response with those applying for employment with your company. Do applicants feel loved? Or, ignored?
- Does the company have the right people with the right skills performing the right tasks?
A review of all communications to include everything from stationery, business cards, magazine ads, packaging, sales collateral. Review process looks at things like:
- Consistent brand look & feel?
- Consistent color?
- What is the brand known for?
- Do you know your WHY?
- Does work follow brand standards? Are brand standards needed?
- Consistency of messaging across all channels and media
- Are materials current (up-to-date images and text)?
- Do materials support sales efforts effectively?
- Legal compliance?
- When it comes to packaging, does the package do its part with regard to point-of-sale visibility and on-shelf communication?
- Does messaging support marketing and business goals?
- Social Media presence? Measured?
- Web presence? SEO where it should be? Usability?
Vendor and Process Evaluation
- Are you using the best vendors and suppliers that provide the best value?
- What about the processes for producing items in the workflow?
It’s a great time to evaluate if you are doing things because that’s how they have always been done, or if it is best for what needs to be done. More often than not, the result is improved efficiencies, less waste of time and money, and improved quality and consistency.
External touchpoint Audit
How do others outside the company see the brand? This includes customers, prospects, news media, suppliers, distributors, retailers, etc. (Usually one-on-one interviews with 6-12 from each group is good)
Questions include things like:
- Why do you buy product X?
- Will you buy it again? Why?
- When you call company X, what is your experience?
- If you had a problem, how was it handled?
- When you think of X, what does the brand mean to you?
- If you support a competitor brand, Why?
- Is ordering easy?
- Any memorable stories?
- Any changes you’d like to see?
Once complete, the audit provides a road map of what’s right with the brand, what needs improvement, and gaps that need to be filled. The world is becoming more competitive every day. The importance of consistent branding and maximizing one’s marketing and brand dollars will be crucial to survival and growth.
Large company or small, a brand audit can give you the tools and information you need to align one’s company and brand touchpoints. All to move your brand from a perception of “one of many” to be seen as “THE ONE.”