How to Conduct a Brand Audit in 9 Easy Steps
Oct 25, 2023
In case you’ve landed here and haven’t already gathered, Stout Heart is an office of brand snobs. The strategy, the research, the design: brand identity is our jam. We do quite a bit of work on brand design, brand refresh, brand redesign, and the creation of brand systems that creates an ecosystem for all of these to exist within. While it’s probably impossible to have “seen it all” in the world of branding, safe to say we’ve seen a lot.
One thing that we stumble across quite a bit is the client who comes to us for a website redesign and doesn’t realize that they really need to start by examining their branding. It doesn’t make sense to invest in a website project that utilizes a dated or defunct brand.
In today’s competitive business landscape, having a strong and authentic brand identity is crucial. Your brand is not just your logo or your products; it’s the sum total of the emotions, perceptions, and associations that customers have with your business. To ensure your brand remains effective and relevant, we recommend conducting a brand audit periodically, particularly if you know you have major marketing efforts coming up. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of conducting a comprehensive brand audit that will help you gain valuable insights, refine your brand strategy, and determine what the wisest next steps are for your brand.
What Is a Brand Audit?
A brand audit is a thorough examination of your brand’s current status, positioning, and perception in the marketplace. It provides a holistic view of your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, allowing you to make informed decisions about future branding strategies. A well-executed brand audit can help you:
- Identify gaps and inconsistencies in your brand’s messaging and image.
- Gain a clearer understanding of how your brand is perceived by customers and competitors.
- Determine whether your brand is aligned with your business goals and values.
- Uncover opportunities for improvement and innovation in your brand strategy.
Let’s delve into the steps needed to conduct a brand audit, keeping in mind that these should be tailored to your organization’s specific needs.
Step 1: Define Your Objectives
Before you embark on a brand audit, establish clear objectives. What do you want to achieve with this audit? Whether it’s strengthening your brand’s position, rebranding, or exploring new markets, setting specific goals will guide the entire process.
Step 2: Collect Brand Assets
Gather all your brand assets, including your logo, brand guidelines, marketing materials, website, social media profiles, and any other materials that represent your brand. This will be the foundation for your audit.
Step 3: Analyze Your Brand Identity
Evaluate your brand’s visual and verbal identity:
- Visual Identity: Assess the consistency and effectiveness of your logo, color scheme, typography, and design elements. Do they convey your brand’s personality and values?
- Verbal Identity: Examine your brand’s messaging, including your tagline, mission statement, and brand voice. Are they aligned with your business objectives? Do they resonate with your target audience?
Step 4: Evaluate Brand Perception
To understand how your brand is perceived, gather feedback from various stakeholders:
- Customers: Conduct surveys or interviews to collect feedback about their experiences with your brand. We’re fans of focus groups, if your budget can handle them, as they always provide important insight.
- Internal Stakeholders: Consult your employees. A brand can be represented by a team and a company culture. It is important to ensure that this is also accurately represented.
Step 5: Market Research
Conduct market research to gauge your brand’s performance in the marketplace:
- Market Trends: Analyze industry trends and how they impact your brand.
- Competitive Landscape: Assess the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors and identify opportunities for differentiation. Analyze your competitors’ branding strategies and customer perceptions to identify areas of differentiation. Specifically, does your brand stand out or does it look like you could slap your logo on a competitor’s product and it would work for them?
- Customer Demographics: Update your understanding of your target audience’s demographics, preferences, and behaviors. These can change over time, particularly if your audience is aging or your product has attracted new segments. Make sure that you have this nailed down!
Step 6: SWOT Analysis
Perform a SWOT analysis to identify your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This will help you create a strategic roadmap for your brand’s future. We’re not going to lie- this sounds simple but is often a challenging exercise. We recommend making it a group activity and involving stakeholders as much as possible.
Step 7: Brand Alignment
Ensure your brand’s values and identity align with your business goals. If inconsistencies exist, work on identifying them and bringing them into harmony. A simple question to ask your team to write down what values they think the existing branding represents and then to compare those to a list of values that the brand should represent.
Step 8: Brand Audit Report
Compile all the data and findings into a comprehensive brand audit report. This report should include:
- Executive Summary: A concise overview of the audit’s key findings.
- Brand Assets Assessment: A visual and verbal identity assessment.
- Brand Perception Analysis: Insights from customers and internal stakeholders.
- Market Research Results: Data from market trends, competitor analysis, and customer demographics.
- SWOT Analysis: An in-depth examination of your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
- Brand Alignment Summary: An overview of findings from this exercise, determining whether the existing brand accurately represents the brand’s values.
Step 9: Action Plan
As a team, you’ll probably have a good idea of whether your brand is still a good fit for your organization as you walk out of this exercise. Based on your audit findings, create a detailed action plan with clear, achievable objectives. Determine what steps need to be taken to improve your brand’s identity, perception, and alignment with your business goals.
Conducting a brand audit is a critical step in ensuring the continued success and relevance of your brand in a rapidly evolving business environment. By systematically assessing your brand’s identity, perception, and alignment with your objectives, you can make informed decisions to refine your branding strategy and stay ahead of the competition. Remember that a brand audit is not a one-time endeavor; it should be conducted periodically to keep your brand fresh, relevant, and resonating with your target audience. We recommend taking a look at your brand every five years. Chances are you won’t need significant changes on a frequent basis but it doesn’t hurt to keep tabs on your brand strategy on a fairly regular basis.
It’s always possible that the outcome of a brand audit is that your branding needs help. If that’s the case but you’re not sure how far you need to go with it, check out this post about the difference between a brand refresh and a brand redesign.
Like what you see? Get in touch! We’d love to chat.