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How To Conduct a Brand Audit?

Written by Rishabh Pugalia
Written by Rishabh Pugalia

Rishabh leads the content strategy at Content Beta, a creative video and design agency for Tech & SaaS companies.

In the competitive world of business, understanding your brand’s position in the market is essential. The key to this understanding lies in conducting a brand audit.

A brand audit is an in-depth examination of your brand’s current state, including its reputation, strategies, and positioning compared to competitors. It gives you the insight needed to align your strategy with your business goals and customer expectations.

There might be several questions popping up in your mind right now.

  • How do I start a brand audit?
  • What aspects of my brand should I examine?
  • How often should a brand audit be conducted?
  • How can I use the results to enhance my marketing strategy?

All these questions and more will be addressed in this article.

A brand audit is essentially about understanding your brand from an outside perspective. It’s a chance to step back, see the big picture, and evaluate your brand’s unique qualities and areas for improvement. When done right, it’s a tool that will help you clarify your brand’s purpose, understand your audience better, and stand out in a crowded market.

Table of Contents

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What is a Brand Audit?

A brand audit is a detailed analysis of a brand’s performance. It is compared to its stated goals or its competitors in the market.

It reveals the brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Simply put, a brand audit analyzes ‘where the brand is’ versus ‘where it should be’ in the minds of the customers.

The categories a brand audit typically assesses are:

  • Internal Branding: This involves looking at how the brand is perceived within the organization. It examines whether the employees understand and live the brand, its values, and its promise. 
  • External Branding: This is about how the brand is perceived by the outside world. It includes customers, competitors, and the market at large. It covers aspects like brand identity, awareness, image, and reputation. As Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has stated,
    “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”
  • Customer Experience: This is an assessment of how customers interact with the brand at all touchpoints. It involves looking at the brand from a customer’s perspective and asking them about their experience with the brand. As Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, famously said,
    “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backward to the technology.”

When conducting a brand audit, it’s essential to examine different aspects in detail:

  • Brand Identity: This involves evaluating your brand’s name, logo, colors, and overall visual elements. This aspect falls under the brand identity audit in your brand audit checklist.
  • Brand Perception: This can be measured through customer surveys, online reviews, and social media sentiment analysis.
  • Brand Strategy: This involves understanding the brand’s mission, vision, values, and positioning. It informs the direction of your brand audit.
  • Brand Differentiation: This can be assessed by comparing your brand’s unique selling proposition (USP), values, personality, and communication style with those of your competitors. A brand audit example here would be comparing your brand’s values against those of your competitors.
  • Brand Awareness: It involves looking at both the quantity and quality of your brand’s presence.
  • Brand Equity: It assesses how your brand’s perceived quality, recognition, and loyalty contribute to its overall value.
  • Brand Communication: This examines all forms of communication from the brand, such as advertising, PR, social media, and content marketing.
  • Brand Performance: This evaluates the brand’s commercial performance, including key performance indicators (KPIs) like market share, sales trends, customer retention rates, and net promoter scores.
  • Market Position: It involves understanding the brand’s unique selling proposition and whether it stands out in the marketplace.
  • Brand Architecture: If you manage multiple brands or sub-brands, how are they related to and differentiated from each other? This involves reviewing your brand portfolio and hierarchy.

A brand audit is a critical tool for making informed decisions and creating a roadmap for future brand strategy. It is also useful when rebranding, as it provides a clear picture of where your brand currently stands and identifies areas for improvement

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Why Should You Do a Brand Audit?

A brand audit is a crucial exercise for businesses, irrespective of their size or industry. Here are a few reasons why conducting a brand audit is essential:

1. Understand Brand Perception

A brand audit helps you understand how your customers and potential customers perceive your brand. It highlights the gaps between how you think your brand is perceived and the actual customer perception.

2. Check Consistency

An audit can help ensure that your messaging, visual elements, and brand voice are consistent across all channels and touchpoints. It enhances recognition and builds trust with your audience.

3. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

A brand audit can help identify what’s working well and what’s not in your branding strategy. This allows you to leverage your strengths and address weaknesses.

4. Evaluate Market Position

Brand audits can reveal your standing relative to your competitors, helping you understand your market position better. This insight can drive more effective branding and marketing strategies.

5. Measure Brand Equity

A brand audit helps measure your brand’s equity – the value derived from consumer perception of your brand rather than the product or service itself.

6. Inform Rebranding Efforts

If you’re considering a rebrand, conducting a brand audit first can provide valuable insights to guide the process. It can help you understand what aspects of your brand to retain, discard, or improve.

7. Guide Strategy and Growth

By offering insights into customer needs, industry trends, and competitive landscapes, brand audits can inform your overall business strategy and guide your growth plans.

8. Improve Customer Experience

A brand audit can help improve customer experience, leading to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

Regular brand audits allow for timely adjustments to your brand strategy. Using a brand audit template or employing brand audit services can enhance the process. It helps ensure your brand remains relevant and engaging to your target audience.

When Should You Do a Brand Audit?

The timing for a brand audit can depend on various factors. But here are some general guidelines on when you might consider conducting one:

1. Regular Intervals

A good practice is to conduct a brand audit at regular intervals, such as annually or biennially. It allows you to keep a pulse on your brand’s health and make timely adjustments as needed.

2. Business Milestones

Consider a brand audit at key business milestones. For example, after a merger, acquisition, or launch of a new product line, you might audit your brand to ensure it still aligns with your overall business strategy.

3. Shifts in Market Conditions

Major changes in the market or your industry might also necessitate a brand audit. These changes could include new competitors, evolving customer preferences, or significant changes in technology.

4. Changes in Performance Metrics

If you’re seeing unexpected or undesirable changes in key performance metrics, such as a drop in sales, decreased customer engagement, or lower brand awareness, an audit could help uncover why.

5. Before a Rebrand

If you’re considering a rebrand, conduct a brand audit first. It can reveal what aspects of your current brand are still effective and should be retained, and what aspects might need to be refreshed or reimagined.

6. Perception Mismatch

If you notice a gap between how you want your brand to be perceived and how it is actually perceived by customers or the market, a brand audit can help identify the cause and suggest ways to realign perception with your brand strategy.

Incorporating a brand audit checklist can ensure an all-inclusive evaluation. For example, a digital brand audit can assess your online presence, while a brand identity audit can evaluate your brand’s visual elements. A brand analysis template can streamline this process. You may also find value in examining a brand audit example.

Remember, the goal of a brand audit is to ensure that your brand remains relevant, competitive, and aligned with your business objectives.

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How to Tell if Your Company Needs Brand Auditing?

Identifying the need for a brand audit can be the key to keeping your brand healthy and relevant. Here are some signs that your company might need a brand audit:

1. Declining Sales or Market Share

If you’re experiencing an unexplained drop in sales, decreased market share, or declining customer engagement, it may indicate a problem with how your brand is perceived.

2. Inconsistent Branding

If your branding is inconsistent across different channels or locations, an audit can help identify the gaps.

3. Outdated Brand Image

If your branding hasn’t been updated in a while, it may no longer resonate with your target audience.

4. Competitive Market Changes

If new competitors have entered the market or existing ones have rebranded or altered their approach, you might need to audit your brand to understand where you now stand in relation to them.

5. Company Changes

If your company has gone through significant changes, such as a merger, acquisition, or pivot in business strategy, an audit can ensure that your brand aligns with your current business direction.

6. Negative Customer Feedback

If you’re receiving negative feedback or reviews, an audit can help identify and address the root causes.

7. Planning a Rebrand

If you’re considering a rebrand, a brand audit should be your first step. It can provide valuable insights to inform your rebranding strategy.

8. Expansion Plans

If you’re planning to expand into new markets or introduce new products or services, a brand audit can ensure your brand will resonate with audiences.

What Should You Audit?

When conducting a brand audit, you’ll want to review several crucial aspects of your brand. Let’s break this down:

1. Current Core Identity

1. Business Name

Consider how well your business name represents your brand and what you do.

2. What You Do

Review how clearly your products, services, or offerings are communicated to your audience. This should be easily understandable and resonate with your target market.

3. Brand Purpose, Vision, Mission, and Values

Assess whether these are clearly defined, communicated, and understood by both your internal team and external audience. Check if these elements are aligned with your brand style guide, actions, and behavior.

4. Target Audience

Analyze if your current target audience is the most suitable for your brand and offerings. Look at their demographics, preferences, and behaviors. Evaluate whether your brand is effectively reaching and engaging them.

5. Competition

Identify your main competitors and examine their branding strategies. Compare their strengths and weaknesses with your own to identify areas for improvement and differentiation.

6. Key Differentiators

Evaluate what makes your brand unique compared to your competition.

7. Brand Personality

Analyze how your brand personality is perceived by your audience. Does it align with your desired brand image?

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2. Current Verbal Identity

1. Tagline and Value Proposition

Assess how effectively your tagline and value proposition communicate your brand’s purpose and benefits. They should be clear, concise, and memorable.

2. Messaging Pillars

Evaluate whether your key messages align with your brand’s purpose, mission, and values. They should consistently support your brand’s identity and resonate with your audience.

3. Voice

Review your brand voice across all communication channels. It should be consistent and reflective of your brand personality.

3. Current Visual Identity

1. Logo

Examine the effectiveness of your logo in representing your brand. It should be distinctive, recognizable, and align with your brand personality.

2. Color and Typography

Analyze your brand’s color palette and typography. They should consistently convey the desired feelings and associations related to your brand.

3. Visual Elements

Review the visual elements used in your branding, such as photography, illustration, icons, etc. They should be high-quality, consistent, and supportive of your brand identity.

By auditing these aspects, you can gain a deep understanding of your brand’s current standing, strengths, and areas that need improvement. Remember, consistency in B2B brand guidelines across all aspects of your brand is key to building a strong, memorable, and effective brand.

6 Steps To Conducting A Brand Audit

Conducting a brand audit can be a meticulous process. Here are six steps to guide you through this process:

Step 1: Create Audit Architecture

Start by creating a structure for your audit. It involves developing a structured plan of what you aim to achieve from the audit. As Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.”

Having a well-defined audit framework will enable you to track progress and manage improvements effectively. It might include categories like

  • Core identity,
  • Verbal and visual identity,
  • Website analytics,
  • Sales statistics,
  • Social media impact,
  • Competitor positioning,
  • Customer feedback.

Having a clear framework will ensure you cover all necessary areas and maintain an organized approach.

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2. Step 2: Evaluate your website performance

Your website is a crucial touchpoint for your brand. It’s essential to incorporate a website brand audit in your overall brand audit checklist. Analyzing website analytics involves understanding key metrics such as

  • Visitor demographics,
  • Sources of traffic,
  • Average session duration
  • Pages per session
  • Exit rate
  • Interactions per visit
  • Return visitors
  • Most visited pages,
  • Bounce rates,
  • Conversion rates

This data can provide insights into the site’s user experience. It can reveal how effectively your website communicates your brand and engages with your audience.

As web analytics expert Avinash Kaushik said, “All data in aggregate is crap.” So, dissect your data and dive deep into the specifics to derive actionable insights.

Step 3: Inspect your sales analytics

Interpreting your sales data is a fundamental part of the brand audit checklist. It can reveal a lot about your brand’s performance and appeal. Look into your sales figures over a specific period, consider the performance of different products/services, and identify any purchasing trends.

Understanding these statistics can provide insight into what customers value most about your brand and where there might be opportunities for improvement or expansion.

“Without big data analytics, companies are blind and deaf, wandering out onto the web like deer on a freeway.” – Geoffrey Moore.

Step 4: Explore your social media performance

Social media platforms provide valuable data about customer engagement and brand perception. Track key engagement metrics like –

  • Follower count,
  • Likes,
  • Shares,
  • Comments,
  • Direct messages.

Consider employing social listening tools to gauge how your audience interacts with and feels about your brand.

As renowned marketing consultant Jay Baer put it, “Content is fire, social media is gasoline.” Therefore, understanding your social data can help you create content that sparks conversations and ignites engagement.

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Step 5: Survey your business rivals

Understanding your competitors’ branding strategies can give you important insights. You can find gaps in your own strategy and make changes in them to create a unique brand positioning. Look at their –

  • Visual identity,
  • Messaging,
  • Product offerings,
  • Customer interactions.

Identifying what they do well and where they fall short can guide you in differentiating your brand more effectively.

Philip Kotler, known as the father of modern marketing, once said, “You should never go to battle before you’ve won the war on paper.” By thoroughly analyzing your competitors, you gain a lucid understanding of the market landscape – your battlefield. It can help you draft a winning strategy.

Step 6: Gather customer feedback

Direct feedback from your customers is invaluable in a brand audit. It provides direct insights into how your audience perceives your brand, making it a vital part of your brand audit checklist.

Conduct surveys, interviews, or even informal chats to gather this information. Brand audit questions might cover –

  • Perceptions of your brand identity,
  • Experiences with your brand,
  • Preferences in comparison to your competitors.

As Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, stated, “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.” The feedback can guide you to improve your brand alignment with their needs and expectations.

What is a Brand Audit Report, And What Should it Include?

A Brand Audit Report is a document that presents the findings and insights of a brand audit in a condensed format. It assesses the current state of a brand, its position in the market, and provides actionable recommendations for improvement.

The primary objective is to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to the brand. This helps in understanding the brand’s current standing, what’s working well, areas needing improvement, and potential strategies for future brand growth.

A well-structured Brand Audit Report should include the following components:

1. Brand Overview

This serves as an introduction to your brand. It explains who you are and what you do.

2. Brand Analysis

It entails an in-depth review of your brand’s current strategies, initiatives, and overall performance.

3. Market Analysis

This section deals with analyzing the current market landscape.

4. Audience Research

This part covers demographics, psychographics, behavior, needs, and expectations of your audience.

5. Competitor Research

Here you identify your main competitors and analyze their strategies, strengths, and weaknesses.

6. Brand Position

This identifies your brand’s unique value proposition and how it differentiates from the competition.

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7. Brand Personality

This section describes the character and human traits of your brand.

8. Verbal Identity

It’s important to review how your brand communicates with its audience, the tone of voice, and language used.

9. Visual Identity

This includes the assessment of your brand’s visual elements like logo, colors, typography, images, and overall design across various platforms.

10. Brand Messaging

This part involves evaluating your brand’s key messages and how effectively they are communicated to your audience.

11. Brand Equity

This measures your brand’s value, based on recognition, reputation, and customer loyalty.

12. SWOT Analysis

A comprehensive review of your brand’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

13. Evaluation

A critical assessment of all the data collected to identify what’s working and what isn’t.

14. Findings and Recommendations

After analyzing the data, present the findings and provide recommendations for improving your brand’s performance and strategy.

15. Implementation Plan

A strategic plan detailing how the recommendations will be implemented to achieve the desired objectives.

16. Conclusive Summary

Wrapping up the report with a brief recap of the key findings, recommendations, and a future plan of action.

The Brand Audit Report is an essential tool for understanding your brand’s current state and planning for its future. It can help ensure your brand stays relevant, competitive, and aligned with your business goals. It can also guide the brand’s future strategies and decision-making processes.

By systematically following these steps, you can put together a brand audit report that improves your brand’s effectiveness, enhances its reputation, and increases its market share.

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Take advantage of our brand audit services to kickstart your journey today!

Our services are designed to help you identify and overcome any obstacles that may be blocking your path to growth. We are here to support and guide you every step of the way.

Whether you are seeking a digital brand audit or website brand audit – our brand audit services can provide a detailed assessment. For brand identity audit, we delve deeper into your brand guidelines, assessing the alignment between your brand’s intended message and its actual perception among your audience.

At the end of the process, we will provide you with a detailed brand audit report, outlining our findings, insights, and recommendations. Take the first step towards a more impactful and effective brand today — embark on your brand audit journey with us.

Conclusion

In conclusion, conducting a brand audit is a powerful exercise. It enables a business to take a step back and critically assess its current standing. It is not just about assessing what the business does but also about understanding why it does what it does, and how effectively it communicates this to its audience.

A brand audit is a chance to realign your brand with your business objectives and audience expectations. It can help you create a cohesive brand image and maintain consistency across all channels. It allows you to effectively differentiate your brand in the marketplace.

A brand audit isn’t a one-time process. It should be conducted periodically to keep up with the dynamic market conditions and evolving customer preferences. Regular audits ensure your brand remains relevant, competitive, and true to its purpose.

With the insights you gather from your brand audit, you can refine your strategies, make data-driven decisions, and drive your brand towards growth and success.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A brand audit is necessary for your business for several reasons:

  • Identify your brand’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Understand your brand’s market position
  • Gauge your brand’s perception among customers
  • Analyze your brand strategy
  • Check your brand consistency

You should consider conducting a brand audit in the following situations:

  • Regular Check-ups, such as annually or bi-annually.
  • If you notice a performance drop, such as decrease in sales, customer engagement, or brand loyalty
  • If you are considering a rebrand
  • After a business merger or acquisition
  • If there are significant changes in your market, such as new competitors or shifting customer preferences

Assessing your brand’s positioning compared to competitors involves several steps:

  1. Identify who your direct and indirect competitors are.
  2. Evaluate their brand image, messaging, and visual identity.
  3. Understand their unique selling points and how they differentiate themselves in the market.
  4. Use customer reviews, social media sentiments, and survey data to understand how customers perceive your competitors.
  5. Draw a comparison between your brand and the competition based on these factors.

The goal is to identify gaps or opportunities in the market that your brand can fill. Try to understand your unique strengths and leverage them effectively.

Absolutely, a small business can and should conduct a brand audit. It’s not exclusive to large corporations. Regardless of size, every business can benefit from understanding its brand performance, customer perceptions, and market positioning.

In fact, for small businesses, brand audits can be particularly useful. They can identify opportunities for growth and differentiation in a competitive marketplace. They can also help in making informed, strategic decisions about brand development and management.

The results from a brand audit can improve your marketing strategy in several ways:

  • Target Audience Insights: It can help refine your messaging, choose the right marketing channels, and create content that resonates with them.
  • Competitive Advantage: It can guide you to emphasize your unique strengths in your marketing efforts.
  • Brand Consistency: If your audit reveals inconsistencies in your brand representation across different platforms, you can work towards creating a unified and consistent brand image.
  • Brand Equity: It can help in crafting strategies to enhance customer loyalty and attract new customers.
  • Data-Driven Decision Making: It can inform your decision-making process, ensuring your marketing strategies are more effective and focused.

Conducting a brand audit requires the involvement of key stakeholders such as:

  • Marketing Team: They have the best understanding of the brand’s positioning, messaging, and strategy.
  • Sales Team: Their direct interaction with customers offers crucial insights into customer perceptions and needs.
  • Senior Management: They provide strategic direction and have a comprehensive view of the business objectives.
  • Customer Service Team: Their day-to-day contact with customers can give valuable insights into customer experiences and feedback.
  • Customers: Their perspective is critical. It can be gathered via surveys, interviews, or focus groups.
  • External Partners (Optional): They provide an unbiased view and may notice things that internal team members might overlook.

A brand audit and a marketing audit focus on different aspects of a business. Brand audit assesses your brand’s image and reputation, while a marketing audit evaluates your marketing efforts and their impact on your business.

Brand Audit is a detailed examination of your brand’s current position in the market, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it’s perceived by customers. It focuses on your brand identity, values, messaging, and overall perception.

Marketing Audit is a comprehensive review of your marketing strategies, goals, tactics, and outcomes. It involves evaluating all your marketing activities (like SEO, content marketing, social media, etc.) to determine their effectiveness and alignment with your business objectives.

You can certainly conduct a brand audit yourself, especially if you have a good understanding of your business and market. It may be time-consuming, but it saves the cost of hiring a professional.

However, hiring a professional brand auditor can be beneficial as they bring an external, unbiased perspective. Brand audit services have the expertise and experience that you lack. Professionals can also save you time and ensure a thorough, systematic approach to the audit.

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