A company can rise and fall based on its brand. After all, if you want to reach your target audience, you need to ensure your brand aligns with the content you're sharing.
That’s where a brand audit comes in.
It's a thorough check-up that evaluates your brand's position and relevance to ensure you stay ahead and connect with customers. Regular brand audits are essential for long-term brand health and success.
As a top branding agency, we’ve helped many clients audit their brands. In this guide, we’ll outline the 10-step process we use to help you align your branding efforts with your goals and market position.
What is a Brand Audit?
A brand audit analyses a brand's position in the market, measuring the difference between your brand's public image vs intended image.
The audit process reviews your branding strategies, communication techniques and how audiences perceive your brand. The goal is to spot strengths, weaknesses, and areas for growth and use these valuable insights to help you adjust your marketing strategies and keep your brand healthy and thriving.
We can’t understate the importance of audits. As Andy Henderson, our Head of Design at RCCO, notes,
“Because your company and your audience's requirements change constantly, your brand must grow and evolve with those changes. Imagine it like an MOT for your brand. When you launched however many years ago, the brand might’ve been fit for purpose then, but not necessarily now. In the same way you check analytics on your website and optimise, you need to do the same with your brand.”
9 Steps for Effective Brand Audit
Let's understand the 9 essential steps of conducting an effective brand audit.
Following this comprehensive approach will create a clear understanding of your brand's current standing and potential areas for improvement.
Step 1: Determine the purpose and set up a framework
The first step involves getting a clear picture of the purpose of your brand audit and establishing a framework. The process starts with a crucial question to clarify your goals. Do you aim to understand your market position, customer perceptions, or brand effectiveness?
After defining the purpose:
- Create a framework to guide your audit. This should cover brand identity, market positioning, and customer engagement.
- Use tools like SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis for a structured approach.
- Set a timeline and assign team members specific tasks.
Step 2: Examine external marketing
An analysis of your brand's external marketing helps you understand your brand's interaction and perception in the external environment. Evaluate crucial aspects like advertising efforts, public relations activities, social media presence, and customer feedback.
- Use social media analytics to gauge engagement and reach.
- Review your advertising content to see if it aligns with your brand's messaging.
- Track media coverage and PR activities to understand current public perception.
- Collect and analyse customer feedback via surveys or review platforms.
This examination reveals insights about your brand's market presence and image. It helps pinpoint effective strategies and areas needing improvement.
Step 3: Review your digital presence
It’s important to understand your digital presence. In knowing how your audience interacts with your content and through what channels, you can develop a better understanding of how to connect with them. Or you may even find that you’re not connecting with the right audience and need to pivot to find those you wish to target.
When reviewing this element, focus on your websites, social media profiles, and online reviews.
- Assess your website for UX, UI, design quality, and content relevance.
- Track metrics like website traffic, bounce rate, and session duration to understand user interaction with your brand.
- Evaluate social media profiles based on engagement levels, follower growth, and content quality.
- Monitor online reviews to understand customer satisfaction and reputation.
- Engage with your audience through forums, comments, polls, email campaigns, and feedback groups. When you interact with them directly, you gain a much stronger understanding of how they feel about your brand.
We recommended using website analytics tools, social media monitoring platforms, and review aggregators for effective assessment.
Step 4: Collect and review data
Collecting and reviewing data provides concrete insights into your brand's performance. Focus on gathering data from various sources like sales figures, customer feedback, market research, and online analytics.
- Sales data offers a direct measure of your brand's market performance.
- Customer feedback gathered through surveys or social media reveals perceptions and satisfaction levels.
- Market research provides context on your brand's position within the industry.
- Online analytics from your website and social media give insights into digital engagement and audience behaviour.
For effective data collection and analysis, utilise tools like:
- Google Analytics for digital metrics.
- CRM software for customer data.
- Market research platforms for industry insights.
Analysing this data helps identify trends, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for your brand. It forms the basis for informed decision-making and strategic planning in subsequent brand audit steps.
Step 5: Internal perspective
Evaluating the internal aspects of your brand gives you insight into how your company culture, employee feedback, and alignment with your mission and values affect your brand.
- Focus on assessing company culture. It should reflect your brand's values and mission.
- Gather employee feedback regularly. This helps understand internal perceptions and identify areas for improvement.
- Check how well your team's actions align with your brand's values and mission.
A positive internal culture often leads to a solid external brand image — employees who resonate with your brand's values can become its best advocates. This internal-external alignment enhances your brand's authenticity and appeal to customers.
Step 6: Competitive analysis
Conduct competitive analysis in your brand audit to benchmark your brand against others in the market. This step informs and enhances your brand strategy.
- Identify key competitors first.
- Then, analyse their branding, marketing strategies, and customer engagement. In other words, what are they doing well, and where are the gaps?
- Compare their strengths and weaknesses with yours.
- Review their customer feedback and social media activity for additional insights.
Use this information to refine components of your brand strategy. At RCCO, we focus on differentiating your brand to improve customer interactions or adjust your market position.
Step 7: Analyse and ideate
In this step, analyse gathered data to develop new strategies. This analysis helps you find new insights and opportunities. You have different methods available to analyse the data, including:
- SWOT analysis: Understand the brand's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- PESTEL analysis: Analyse political, economic, social, technological, Environmental, and Legal factors affecting your brand.
- Customer journey mapping: Understand your customer's experience from first contact to post-purchase.
After analysis, use insights from your analysis to brainstorm innovative ideas that can bolster your brand, or expand it further. These might include new marketing approaches, product improvements, or customer service enhancements.
It’s important to note that, after completing your analysis, you may find more serious issues with your brand. that it's not right, that your brand doesn't align with those things and your actual brand might need tweaking. That’s why you do brand audits. In these cases, your brand might need a refresh, or a complete rebrand.
Step 8: Create an action plan and implement
A strong action plan outlines specific, achievable goals based on your audit findings. Include detailed steps for each goal, responsible parties, and timelines, and prioritise tasks based on impact and feasibility. Make sure your plan aligns with brand objectives.
With a plan in hand, you require a practical implementation to get successful results. To achieve that, focus on the following activities:
- Review progress against your plan. Make necessary adjustments that help you stay on track.
- Communicate with your team about their roles and expectations.
- Foster a collaborative environment for implementing changes.
This step turns your audit insights into real-world improvements. It's about proactively enhancing your brand's performance and image. A well-executed plan leads to measurable progress and sustained brand growth.
Step 9: Monitor, review, and adjust
In the final step, focus on ongoing monitoring and using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track progress. This continuous evaluation is crucial for long-term brand success.
- Create clear brand guidelines: With a set of guidelines, your entire team is on the same page, creating content and output that is always aligned across all channels and platforms.
- Set clear KPIs related to your brand objectives: KPIs can help your brand grow and sustain the growth. So, you must select them carefully and choose the ones that align well with your brand objectives. These might include customer engagement rates, website traffic, or sales figures.
- Review your strategies periodically: Compare actual results with your goals. Find any suitable trends or patterns within the data. This helps you understand what's working and what needs refinement.
- Prepare yourself to make adjustments. You may see the market and customer preferences change quickly. Stay flexible and adapt your strategies. This might mean tweaking your marketing approach, revising your brand messaging, or rethinking your target audience.
As you monitor, review, and adjust, you keep your brand relevant and ahead of the curve. This proactive approach helps your brand remain strong and competitive over time.
Brand Audit Challenges
While a brand audit is straightforward in terms of the process, you may face several challenges or obstacles, each of which can impact the effectiveness of the audit.
Here, we'll explore common hurdles and provide strategies to overcome them for a thorough and effective brand audit.
1. Inconsistent brand messaging across platforms
Inconsistent brand messaging occurs when a brand conveys different tones, messages, or values on various channels. Such inconsistencies can dilute the brand's image, weaken its impact and lead to audience confusion.
To avoid this, maintain a uniform brand voice and message across all channels for a clear and strong brand presence.
Consistency in brand messaging reinforces brand identity and enhances recognition. A cohesive message across all platforms strengthens trust and reliability in the eyes of the audience.
2. Difficulty in gathering comprehensive data
Gathering comprehensive data for a brand audit often poses a challenge. Businesses frequently face scattered data across various platforms and systems. Some lack effective tracking tools, while others struggle with outdated systems that fail to integrate well. To tackle this:
- Invest in tools that centralise and streamline data collection.
- Seek analytics platforms that add data from multiple sources into one dashboard.
- Utilise modern CRM systems to track customer interactions across channels.
Keeping your data collection tools up-to-date and integrated simplifies the audit process.
3. Resistance to change within the organisation
We find resistance to change within an organisation a common challenge brands face during brand audits. Internal stakeholders may resist new strategies that the audit suggests due to fear of the unknown or attachment to old, familiar strategies.
To address this, you need to communicate the benefits of proposed changes and involve team members in the audit process. This fosters a sense of ownership and eases fears.
- Highlight successful examples of change and its positive impact.
- Encourage open dialogue about concerns and suggestions.
Addressing the human aspect and encouraging involvement can reduce resistance. It fosters a more adaptable organisational culture.
4. Rapidly changing market dynamics
Rapidly changing market dynamics can make brand audit findings outdated. Today's fast-paced market demands agility and adaptability in brand strategies. To stay relevant, conduct frequent mini-audits or pulse checks.
- Mini-audits: Focused, short-term reviews of specific brand elements. They provide quick insights into current brand performance and market alignment.
- Pulse checks: Regular, brief assessments of key metrics and market trends. They help you stay informed about the brand's real-time market position and customer perceptions.
These help you keep up with market changes and adjust your strategies. Updated market understanding helps your brand remain competitive and responsive to evolving trends.
5. Balancing objectivity and subjectivity
You need to maintain a balance between objective analysis and subjective judgement during brand audits. Objectivity relies on unbiased data, while subjectivity involves personal biases.
Relying on objective data analysis helps you avoid the influence of subjective judgments. Involve third-party auditors for an unbiased perspective.
Use data-driven decision-making tools for conclusions based on solid data. This approach leads to more accurate, effective brand assessments, free from personal bias.
Start Your Brand Audit Today
So, there you have it. We outlined a comprehensive 10-step process for conducting effective brand audits. Three key takeaways from what we discussed include:
- Understand your brand's market position, audience perceptions, and internal dynamics.
- Examine your brand's external marketing, digital presence, and competition.
- Engage with your audience and adapt to market changes.
Apply these steps to your brand for a thorough understanding of its strengths and areas for improvement. Regular brand audits will help you stay competitive in an evolving market. They enable you to align your brand with your business goals and customer needs.
Start applying this 9-step process to your brand. If you need further guidance or assistance, then connect with us. Begin your journey towards a stronger, more resilient brand today.