Brand Audits – Why and How?
Regular brand audits are recommend like the regular health check-ups. It is required to assess the elements which are affecting the brand image – it could be in the positioning, perception, social media, content, brand design or even the marketing communication. A brand audit checks it all and provides a feedback with the recommended set of actions to better the brand equity in the industry.
WHY Audit your Brand?
Many wonder about the need of a Brand audit. People believe that it is enough to have an identity created and rest of the time & effort shall go in Sales. They fail to understand that the first impact of their product or service is through the brand only. Also with the increasing social media the brand reach has increased, methods to connect with customers have multiplied and with the mobile apps the reach has gone multi-fold. The purpose of a brand audit is to ascertain how your business is performing in the eyes of your customers. Which offers the benefits like it position the business and to plan corrective strategies, it helps to know strengths and weaknesses of the business, matches your offerings to your customer’s needs and wants and gives an overall perception about the business
Our suggestive motto behind a Brand Audit is to ascertain the following:
- To check the present day positioning and how relevant it is to the industry and the competitors.
- SWOT Analysis – One can check the strength and weaknesses of the brand. It is also good to keep an eye on the upcoming opportunities – which could be like the change in technology, launch of alternative products, changing customer needs due to any social/environmental revolutions etc.
- To examine current market expectations and re-alignment of brand attributes to make them suitable and preferred brand.
- For accelerating the business goals in purview of the customer needs.
- Figure out the PODs (Points of Difference) with the competitors. And whose promotions are making an impact.
- If there is any Identity Crisis in the brand image inference.
- Checking the collaterals and communication material to assess if there is any difference in what we want to present to the client and how they infer our brand messages.
HOW Audit is done?
At 30TH FEB we created an Audit Framework and formulated the following steps:
To start with we need to check the Brand Definition. Is the focus still there from where you begin it? Is the Brand intent same or the actions and communications differ from what were established at the launch.
This becomes important when there is seen a difference in what we position the brand as and what we offer. The brand communication need to be same at all levels, be it the company profile, the social media content, the e-mailers or even a simple brand message. This binds the consumer mindset and offers a great recall. All the things if differ, there is an identity crisis and that develops gaps in the brand defined and shared and hence lead to a weaker brand recall.
So it is important that the ‘Brand Profile’ is updated and similar across all channels.
Brand Evaluation – Marketing Efforts
Whatever is created, formed and developed need an assessment? One need to check if the investment made in creating the Brand is bringing any business. If it is reaching the right consumers and the target segment find relevance.
Sometimes start-ups opt for high end branding with heavy weight content which might read well but actually miss out the consumer base. The TG doesn’t find relevance, they fail to perceive the brand as a solution provider and that is not satisfactory – that needs to be changed. May be the top management will give you great reviews but if the target is middle/junior level, you need to reconsider.
There are also times when people pick the fad over logic. Brands which won’t be searched on the social media keep social media budgets, if the intent is awareness it is ok but you need not invest beyond a limit. Save that money for more relevant media.
The above things can only be ascertained through Brand Evaluation. An annual Brand Evaluation is a good strategy for businesses which are relatively new and offer new services.
Interview your customers. Ask them questions about your company, the services offered and why they think an association with you is a good deal. Avoid questionnaires and prefer to talk in details because here you are doing the Perception Analysis and you need to check if they have changed over the time.
Here is a checklist for what the customers should be asked about in a brand audit:
- About your company
- How do they infer the collateral?
- What do they like most about the brand?
- Is there any change they would like to bring?
- If they are having any difficulty in using the service/product offered or suggested by you.
- Ask them what they feel their competitors are getting and they want too.
Assess Internal Branding
Often non-existent but Internal Branding is significant. You need to ask your team what they perceive the brand as, what is the work philosophy in the company. How the company and its staff should communicate with the customers? And also if they think there is a scope for improvement. This not only helps improvise the brand but also increases the employee loyalty.
Speak to the Stakeholders
Stakeholders can be your vendors, the team you worked with, the people you associate with or those whom you outsource work. You need to check with them about the brand perception, the values, its functioning and how it can get better if at all they think.
Also since they are associated and not part of everyday work life, they can provide a reality check of your brand and also it competitors. From image to routine functionality – they sometimes have a lot to offer and talk about which implicates the Brand Image. They are the people who help one create a Business/Corporate citizen.
Evaluate the Audit Results. ACT
Now once the steps explained above are taken care of, it is time to evaluate the results. If your findings are relevant to marketing & promotional strategy – you need to get it correct. Change the Marketing Plan and see the difference. If it is about the Brand message, for say, your brand is not offering what was promised, you can probably need to update the Brand Communication.
Many a times, Brands do take up corrective measures and change the offering/design itself. But mostly, an Audit is recommended to get more value out of the brand. To know where to start Auditing from you can check our Internal Branding Blog here.