You’ve held the brand positioning workshop, established your brand values, set your brand colors, and defined your target audience.
Once your brand launches, it’s easy to believe the branding work is all in the past. But in reality, this is just the beginning.
Marketing your brand is a constant process of testing, measuring, monitoring, and analyzing to see what works — and what doesn’t.
Your product or service will probably evolve over time in response to the changing needs of your customers and the feedback you receive from them. But if your branding gets stuck in a rut, you may be leaving money on the table.
Moreover, your messaging may no longer be relevant to your audience. Your competition may be doing a better job than you at marketing to your ideal customers — and stealing them from you in the process.
If you want your brand to stay relevant — and your business to stay profitable — you’ll need to conduct regular brand audits. This article will cover what to include in your brand audit and a five-step process to help you get started.
Do you really need a brand audit?
It’s tempting to assume that what’s worked well in the past will continue to work in the future. In reality, marketing is a fast-paced game that involves managing a wide array of content across multiple channels. If you want to stay ahead of competitor brands, carrying out brand audits on a semi-regular basis is a wise move.
Even the dominant players in a market need to constantly innovate to maintain their position and prevent ambitious young upstarts from knocking them off their throne. Like when McDonald’s changed its logo from its signature red to green to appeal to an increasingly eco-conscious audience in Europe.
It’s good practice to carry out a brand audit at least once a year — this allows you to take stock of what works and what doesn’t and ensure your ongoing marketing efforts are aligned to audience expectations.
A brand audit can help your business continue to grow by reducing your bounce rate, improving your conversion rate, and fostering customer loyalty. Even if you’re not considering a full rebrand, a quick brand refresh every once in a while never goes amiss.
There are three main areas a brand audit action plan should cover:
- Internal branding: Company culture and educating employees about a company’s values and mission.
- External branding: The story your products, services, and messaging tell your customer.
- Customer experience: Customer service interactions or content engagement. Auditing this area can show how well customers are experiencing your brand through both sales and service.
What elements should you measure in a brand audit?
Let’s take a look at seven of the key elements a successful brand audit process should focus on.
1. The target market
Do you know who your target market is? What are their problems and desires, and where do they spend time online? Without knowing the answers to these questions, you won’t be able to market to your ideal customer in a way that’s relevant to them.
There are many different ways to identify your target customers, from creating avatars and buyer personas to segmenting your audience by demographic, interests, and their point on the buyer journey.
Context is key when it comes to your marketing strategy. If you’re directing your messages at the wrong people, you’re basically wasting your time — and money. In an age of content overwhelm, you need to make your advertising and content marketing stand out to the people who need your product or service by tailoring it specifically to them.
For example, when we conducted our audit for Oyster HR, a global hiring platform, they identified HR managers over 50 as a key segment of their target market. Knowing who they wanted to aim their marketing messages at was the first step in defining their new brand strategy.
2. The overall strategy and goals of the brand
It goes without saying that your branding and marketing strategy should align with your company’s vision and goals. For example, one of our clients, Oyster, knew that they wanted to focus on working with clients building fully distributed global teams.
This overarching goal became a focal point of the brand audit we conducted for them, and we recommended Oyster add references to remote work throughout their website. These additions included:
- CTAs such as “Go Remote” and “Work from Anywhere”
- Drop-down menus like “Global teams need looking after too”
- Testimonials from remote companies that have partnered with Oyster
- CTAs encouraging visitors to sign up for the newsletter and receive regular updates on remote work
3. Innovation in the products and services the brand provides
The internet is a noisy place, so it’s essential to make your brand stand out from the crowd. Why should a customer choose your product over a competitor? What’s your unique value proposition? What’s your brand promise?
Answering these questions will give you key insights into the type of content you deliver and on which platforms. For example, getting organic reach on Facebook is extremely challenging these days compared to other platforms like TikTok or Instagram.
However, because Oyster knew their target audience were mostly HR managers over 50, we knew that Facebook was the main social channel for that demographic, so it was worth focusing at least part of the marketing strategy there.
Despite the challenges of building an audience on Facebook, we recommended that Oyster create a targeted publishing schedule and participate in Facebook groups to drive awareness and engagement.
4. Visual messaging and storytelling
Humans are wired for stories — it’s literally in our DNA — so brands that learn to tell compelling stories through their marketing efforts will come out on top.
Research shows that we remember stories 22 times more than facts alone. Using storytelling also makes your brand more memorable and seem more human and approachable in the minds of your audience. Use your stories to hook people in before delivering your marketing message.
We recommended Oyster incorporate storytelling into their LinkedIn posts by starting with a brief introduction highlighting a recent success story, like this example: “Ayodeji, a graduate of last year’s Remote Ready, recently shared some incredible news – he was hired as COO by BELAY Associates, a private equity firm based in California 🤯.”
This simple addition of a story immediately draws readers in and makes them want to know more.
5. Advertising strategies linked to marketing goals
Once you’re clear on your target audience and marketing strategies, you’ll need to ensure your visual assets support your goals.
The visual aspect of your brand is crucial to transmitting your message to your ideal customers. For example, color psychology plays an important role, and using a slightly different tone of a particular color can convey the wrong emotion.
The same goes for fonts — the type of font you use can help you portray your brand as serious, playful, dependable, or cutting-edge — depending on the brand image you want to project.
Using shapes and textures in and around your image can also help you create a strong visual identity — a recommendation that we made to Oyster.
Another element to consider is what platforms you’ll be focusing your marketing efforts on. Different types of content work well on different platforms, so make sure your ads are tailored to each outlet as well as your audience.
6. Customer experience and success
In the age of the internet, how do you get complete strangers to trust you? By using social proof.
Think about it — every time you’re considering buying a new product or going to a new restaurant, what do you do? You go online and check their reviews. According to Review Tracker, the number of people reading online reviews before deciding which business to support has increased by 50% since pre-pandemic times — meaning social proof is now more important than ever before.
Without social proof, people aren’t going to trust you — it’s that simple. But all it takes is to add a few customer success stories, including user experience of your website or app, to transform your brand into one that’s trustworthy and reliable.
For Oyster, we recommended adding a “Customer Success” or “Testimonials” tab to their main menu to give website visitors easy access to their social proof.
7. Brand awareness and positioning in the marketplace
How do people perceive your brand? Who are your main competitors, and how does your brand stack up against them?
Answering these questions is the final piece of the puzzle that will inform your branding and marketing strategies going forward. Use competitor analysis tools to gather data on the competition, including:
- SEO and rankings
- Email subscribers
- Social media following
This will help you calculate your share of voice — in other words, how much of the online conversation you’re earning.
5 steps to conducting a successful brand audit
Ready to carry out your brand audit? Get started with this step-by-step guide.
1. Know the purpose of your audit
The purpose of a brand audit is to see which elements of your current brand and marketing plan still align with your current strategy and mission and identify the channels and content that are performing well and the ones that need improvement.
A few key questions to ask yourself at this stage include:
- Is your website navigable via search engine results?
- Is the visual system representative of your message?
- Are your emails being opened?
- Do people read your newsletter?
- How big is your social media following?
- How engaged are your followers?
The purpose of this preliminary step is to get a status check of all your running processes, so you know which ones need an upgrade.
2. Do a deep dive on your social media
A coherent social media presence is essential for creating a strong brand image, so analyzing your social media marketing is a critical part of your brand audit. Use social media analytics to assess how your marketing campaigns are performing across different platforms.
Some questions to consider include:
- What types of customers engage with your brand on social media?
- Are they customers you want?
- What are they saying about your brand?
It’s important not only to keep track of metrics such as likes and dislikes but also to monitor meaningful engagement and customer feedback.
3. Carry out a customer survey
Gauging customer satisfaction is a great way to tailor your marketing materials to their needs and desires.
Use a combination of email questionnaires, social media polls, customer support feedback, and website analytics to understand your target market’s perception of your brand and what might attract new customers.
Here are a few key questions to help you get the ball rolling:
- What words would you use to describe this brand?
- What problem does this brand solve?
- Would you recommend this brand to your friends and family?
- How good is this brand’s customer service?
- How could this brand improve customer service?
4. Review your competitors
This is where you get to snoop on the competition to see what they’re doing better and where your own brand has the advantage. Take a look at their social media presence, check out their landing page, and analyze their tone of voice.
Where possible, gather information on their pricing, website traffic, sales data, social media following and engagement, and market impression among different stakeholders.
5. Analyze results and monitor your progress
Once you’ve gathered all your metrics, analyze them to create an overall picture of your branded messaging.
Finally, examine all the information you’ve collected. Decide what aspects work well for your brand, which ones need fine-tuning, and which ones miss the mark entirely.
Then, draw up a brand management action plan, prioritizing the tasks that will make the most impact on your brand image and, ultimately, your sales.
Curate a brand your customers will love
Ultimately, the purpose of a brand audit is to make sure your brand messaging aligns with your ideal customer’s needs and that your marketing strategy focuses on delivering the right content to the right audience in the places they hang out online.
Carrying out regular brand audits is therefore essential if you want to make new sales and keep your existing customers coming back for more.
Knowing who your target audience is, what your value proposition is, which channels and content perform best for you, and how your competition is doing will provide you with insights on how to move forward with your branding and marketing strategy.
And if you need an expert eye on your brand audit, get in touch with Literal Humans. We specialize in helping brands optimize their marketing performance across all platforms and channels to create a strong and relatable brand image.