Do you need a brand audit? You may not even be aware that you do. A brand audit is something you don’t really need a specific reason for; you need to be constantly looking at and evaluating your brand to make sure it stays fresh and accurate. Can you answer these three questions about your brand? If not, no worries: a brand audit can answer them and outline some clear next steps.
1. How do customers experience your brand?
Tell me about your brand. What’s its personality like? What are its core values? In order for your customers to experience consistency when interacting with your brand, every person in your organization should know what your brand stands for.
A personality survey is an excellent way to ensure everyone, from your CEO to your newest employee, is on the same page about your brand. It can help you establish a clear picture or definition of who your brand is and what it stands for.
With a thorough, top-to-bottom understanding of your brand, you can better align your messaging, goals, and other important aspects of your brand experience. As a result, no matter who your customers or prospective customers interact with (or how), they’ll know what to experience from your brand every step of the way.
2. Where do you sit in the competitive landscape?
Doesn’t keeping up with the market sometimes feel like a never-ending battle? The market is constantly shifting, no matter what industry you’re in. Auditing your brand in the form of a competitive analysis is a great way to stay fresh and keep your brand status top-of-mind.
- Be aware of what’s going on around you. It’s important to understand who and what you’re up against. Have you noticed your competitors going through some changes, such as refreshing their brand, modernizing, or releasing new products? Make sure you’re using the right tools and methods to stay relevant or track changes in the competitive landscape.
- Have a differentiating value proposition that aligns with your core purpose. If you don’t know how your brand experience sets you apart from the competition, how can you guide your customers to understand what makes you different? Understanding the attributes that set you apart helps you formulate the right tone, voice, and brand promise for the products and services you offer. The best way to know how to communicate what makes you different (read: better) is by understanding yourself and learning everything you can about your competitors.
3. What has changed in your organization or cause?
Change – internal and external – is inevitable. It may happen so slowly that you don’t even realize it until you take a step back and realize you are different than you were before. It can also happen so quickly that you’re pressed to react promptly or make some changes in response. Here are some indicators that change is happening…or needs to happen.
- Your website or marketing materials are no longer telling the right story. This might happen because of a slow evolution in your brand over time. To keep your brand up-to-date, you should audit it at least once a year. It might also happen because of something that seems obvious – new products or services being released, executive-level changes… the list is endless. Are you still telling the right story to the right audience, in the right way and at the right time? If you’re not sure, this next sign might help you out.
- You’re spending all your time fielding customer problems. How busy are your support or customer service teams? If they’re busier than they should be, that’s a clear sign your customers are not experiencing the same story you promised them. Re-aligning your brand so that you’re setting clear expectations AND following through on them will create a smoother experience for both your customers and your organization.
- Something has happened in your industry or cause. Are you on top of relevant current events? When something important happens, it’s vital that you react promptly. How are others responding? How should you respond? What are the appropriate changes to make to your messaging, website, social media, products and services, etc.? If you’re not sure, or you don’t know, you may urgently need a brand audit.
Remember, a brand audit is not something you need an explicit reason for (although sometimes you might have one!). Rather, it’s a crucial process that needs to be a regular part of your organization’s lifecycle. It’s important to audit your brand at least once a year, but if you’re missing answers to any of these questions, it may be time to take a fresh look at your brand.