When you hear the word “brand audit” or even “audit”…
What goes through your mind?
Define Audit: The financial inspection of your business – by independent organisation
Wait, Wait!!! Before you create a picture in your mind of accountants pouring over spreadsheets, analysing every tiny detail of your business…
You can breathe a sigh of relief – a brand audit is nothing like that!
So what is a brand audit, and why do we need one?
Whilst the dictionary doesn’t have an official definition of a brand audit – they say an “audit” is an examination or verification, a report, or inspection.
What is a brand audit?
A brand audit is when we assess your current brand positioning – it’s a diagnostic tool to assess current performance, provide a baseline for brand development [a perfect precursor to brand strategy], and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the brand.
Why do you need one?
For a brand to develop and grow, it’s essential to take a critical look at what’s current working, and which areas need improvement. It helps identify the gaps between where we want the brand to be positioned, vs how we are currently presenting ourselves.
How does a brand audit impact help us be effective?
Your brand should be positioned to help you reach your business objectives.
Aligning your brand with your business vision, goals, or objectives… builds trust. Lack of alignment creates confusion in the customers eye [or worse, working against your vision + goals].
We use an audit to ensure your current positioning is working hard to achieve your brand goals.
Basically, it helps you check to make sure that what you’re doing now, is taking you in the direction of where you want to go.
Is a brand audit, something I can do myself?
Now that you know it’s a good idea to do a brand audit, you’re probably wondering if it’s something you can tackle yourself?
There’s a saying:
You can’t see the label on the jar, when you’re inside the bottle”
When you’re “in it” – it’s very hard to see what’s going on with the brand… you’re just too close.
Let me explain…
Think about the time you moved into your house, remember how clean that kitchen counter was?
You may have strategically placed an item on the counter, like a toaster, or a breadbin.
The wooden spoons also needed to be close, so those found their way into a jar for easy access, those breadboards you were gifted also remained on the counter, along with the salt + pepper pots, and sugar bowl.
See how quickly that kitchen counter got cluttered.
Funny thing is… you “stopped seeing it” because your brain got so used to those items being there – and so you started ignoring the fact that they were there.
Our brands are like that kitchen counter.
// “Stuff” clutters up our brand, without us realising. We don’t notice how “weirdly out of place” things are, because we got used to it being there. It’s become “the way things are”.
// When we operate at a fairly granular level [focusing on the day to day activities], and we don’t think about the longer-term, bigger impact of small changes on our brand. The cumulation of small [and usually random] efforts – result in a brand that isn’t working hard for you.
Plus, we build up so many assumptions about how our business operates.
We create thoughts and ideas on how things “should be” based on an experience or two – and sometimes those thoughts need to be challenged.
There are times when I have challenged my clients thinking, and they made big shifts for their business.
Usually, a fresh perspective on what’s working, and what needs improving helps shift through those current stumbling blocks.
That’s not to say you can’t do an assessment yourself…
In fact, we encourage you to start off by doing a self assessment.
It’s a great way to get you thinking about all the aspects of your brand, and it will give you a preliminary look into how you’re doing.
Plus, our 5 min brand audit is a quick and painless way to get started, so feel free to tackle that:
Our FREE 5 min Brand Audit:
What is the typical process of a brand audit?
Brand Audits are usually conducted by an external party [otherwise the view is pretty subjective and skewed to preconceived beliefs].
Depending on the person auditing your brand, they will usually follow their own framework / process – which could include initial perceptions, industry research, specific deep dives, or even external validation + focus group inputs.
Brand audit’s are either done “cold” or “with context”:
- a cold brand audit: is when someone takes a look at the brand without any context
- A contextual brand audit: the person reviewing your brand, has context in terms of how the business operates, in order to provide feedback that is more aligned to business goals.
As you can imagine, we believe firmly in the contextual audit at FreshSage [That’s not to say we haven’t / don’t give cold audits – we just prefer to do audits that add more value to the business].
Most of the time, the Brand Strategist will review the key brand aspects, and share input on research done for your industry.
The end result: is usually a PDF [or report] of key insights, areas of strength to maximise + areas for development.
How do we conduct a brand audit at FreshSage?
Our process is usually based on an aspect of our brand experience framework.
Depending on the needs within your business – we will tackle either an aspect of the framework [or sometimes even the whole thing]:
Types of brand audits
When looking at the full Brand Experience, there are many different layers and many types of brand audits at your disposal.
Some of the types brand audits we have done:
// Brand Foundation Audit [to make sure the base of the brand is solid + clear]
// Brand Review [a topline review of the entire brand experience]
// Brand Identity Audit [where we assess all the brand elements – like logo, colour etc. to ensure it keeps up with the brand goals]
// Online Web Audit [to analyse whether the website is still relevant]
// Online Social Audit [analysing where to optimise a social profile, like facebook]
How do we conduct a brand audit at FreshSage?
Our audit usually follows the 5 step process that I’m outlining for you here. Typically our Brand Review [audit] will assess the brand against the following key areas:
Our Brand Audit Process:
What are your brand goals? Taking the time to get context in terms of your brand goals + where you are wanting to take the business – is essential. This context allows us to provide a more valuable assessment of the brand.
2. The Fresh Perspective
With context in hand, we will review the brand – making some initial assumptions about what we see [overall brand perceptions, the direction, and the focus]
Those ideas are noted, but that’s not where we stop…
3. Market Research
Our thinking needs to be tested. Market research is done to see what your industry is doing, assess our thoughts against current trends, and review your landscape… all along, ensuring that we keep your brand goals + vision top of mind.
4. Consolidate the thinking into a report
All the ideas, thoughts, and research are consolidated into a report.
5. Discussion of assumptions
Time to talk through those findings. Discussing our findings, is a great opportunity to explore possible opportunities and threats for your industry… and often assumptions are challenged.
How can you conduct your own brand audit?
Ready to take a look at your own brand?
The free assessment is a great way to assess how your brand is doing [and whether there are any glaringly obvious areas that are holding your brand back from success]
Once you sign up for the Free 5 min Brand audit – there are two options available to you:
- The brand audit checklist [a downloadable PDF option]
- The online brand audit form [which will automatically work out the result for you]
Which option will you choose?