Building and maintaining a thriving brand takes work, but it’s well worth the effort. A strong brand is the single most effective marketing component your business can have. When your brand is performing well, your business enjoys increased visibility, greater customer loyalty, and a healthier bottom line.
So how do you grow a great brand, and keep it on top? One of the most powerful tools for maintaining or improving brand performance is a brand audit – a comprehensive evaluation of your brand’s positioning and market performance that should be done on a regular basis. Here’s what you should know about brand audits in order to drive successful growth for your brand.
Top 10 Things Successful Brand Owners and Managers Must Know about Brand Audits
1. What a Brand Audit is (and isn’t)
A brand audit is a comprehensive analysis of the current state of your brand. Effectively, it is a brand health check, helping you identify any problem areas with your brand strategy, collateral, positioning, and market value – with an eye towards turning things around and increasing the effectiveness of your brand.
A brand audit is not a quick review of your numbers. Effective brand audits are comprehensive investigations of all the aspects that make up and effect your brand.
2. Reasons to do a Brand Audit
There are many reasons to do a brand audit, but some of the most common are business performance issues that can be tied into the strength of your brand. If your business is sliding down, you are losing customers to competitors, or your revenue is sinking, a brand audit can enable you to revitalise flagging performance and recapture your market – or take your brand to new, profitable heights.
3. What a Brand Audit can do
The benefits of a brand audit are numerous and substantial. Just a few of them include:
- Highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of your brand
- Showing where your brand currently stands in the market compared to competitors
- Painting an accurate picture of your brand’s market perceptions
- Enabling you to align your brand with customers’ expectations
- Identifying new trends and market opportunities to expand your brand
4. Conduct Brand Audits Even for Healthy Brands
If your brand is performing well, you may feel that there’s no need for a brand audit. But the fact is, even healthy brands need to be monitored for performance. When your brand is already winning, a brand audit can show you why it’s winning – enabling you to focus your brand strategies and efforts on the most effective areas for high brand performance.
5. Brand Audits Increase Your Profits
Strong brands simply make more money. When you have a robust and consistent brand, you’re able to engage and inspire your audience, building brand loyalty that translates into more returning customers, more word-of-mouth visibility, and less money spent on attracting new customers. You can also implement premium pricing strategies with a stronger brand that’s able to command higher prices.
A powerful brand is an investment that pays for itself, and a comprehensive brand audit can unlock your brand’s potential.
6. Brand Audits as Competitive Strategy
A highly competitive brand is a successful brand – and every brand has competition. Done correctly, a brand audit will show you how your brand stacks up against your most direct competitors, and reveal tactics and brand strategies you can use to gain a higher market share. For brands that require an aggressive competition strategy, brand audits will help you pinpoint the exact areas your brand is underperforming compared to your competition, and make improvements that lead to greater market success.
7. A Brand Audit Reviews Every Piece of Brand Collateral
If you’re looking for an effective brand audit that will truly help you grow your brand, you need to review and analyse every touch point and piece of brand collateral for your brand, from your logo and brand colors, to product brand packaging and merchandising, to website and online presence, to your organisation’s business cards, letterhead, and email signatures. Both internal and external brand collateral must be included in a brand audit.
8. Internal Brand Perceptions are Important
A successful brand audit will analyze your brand from your employees’ point of view. Engaging employees and earning employee buy-in for your brand audit is crucial to success – after all, your employees must participate in the changes you implement according to the brand audit results, or you’ll be unable to effect real change or maintain brand consistency and your efforts to revitalise the brand will fail.
This means brand aspects such as your employee orientation and training programs, sales force training, human resources material, and employee engagement strategies must be included in your brand audit.
9. Your Customers Should be Part of Your Brand Audit
One of the greatest benefits of a brand audit is the ability to gain an accurate picture of customer perceptions of your brand – and there is no better way to do this than going to the customers themselves. Customer participation and feedback should be an integral component of your brand audit.
There are many ways to solicit customer feedback during a brand audit. Online polls and surveys are common methods that can bring results faster, and help you gain a wider reach for your customer data pool. It can also be very effective to gather customer feedback at your point of sale, whether that is online or in a retail location, or over the phone or in a meeting. This is another reason why it’s valuable to involve employees in the brand audit process – they will have direct access to customers and can solicit the feedback you need to move forward effectively.
10. The Real Value of a Brand Audit
Many brand owners make the mistake of believing the value of a brand audit lies in the data that is collected. But in order to make brand audits work for you, it’s important to realize that the most essential value lies in the actions you take as a result of the insights gleaned through the process. The brand audit is a diagnostic tool, offering a detailed look at the current position of your brand – but the real work begins when the brand audit ends.
For this reason, it’s vital to make your brand audit rigorous, engaging, and objective. A brand audit can reveal hard truths about your market standing that you may not be prepared to accept.
We have found when conducting brand audits, using our Auditing Analysis Accelerator™system, that when clients take on board all of these factors their brand audit provides very insightful and invaluable information which has a significant impact on their brand strategy and the growth of their business and its profitability going forward.
The Benefits of Working with a Specialist Brand Consultancy
The need for objectivity in brand audits makes a strong case for your organisation to work with an outside party when implementing a comprehensive brand audit. An experienced brand consultancy can help you create an impartial picture of your brand, enabling you to visualize the strengths and weaknesses clearly and take corrective action that will be truly effective in strengthening your brand. This type of collaboration provides you with both objectivity and the ability to integrate insights with your brand strategy going forward, without preconceptions that can skew the results of the audit.
So, what do you think?
• Has your business hit a plateau or encountered a decline, which a brand audit could help turn around?
• If your brand is healthy and performing well, do you know exactly why? Could a brand audit help you focus on your strengths?
• Does your brand need to be more competitive in your industry?
• Have you been considering a premium pricing strategy? How would you use a brand audit to help you implement higher pricing tiers?
• Have you performed a brand audit before? How comprehensive were your results?
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!