Image byJoão Silas
An important step towards establishing a successful company is building a strong brand. By ensuring your brand is clearly defined with a core purpose and focus, you build trust with your team and investors, ensure customer retention, and give yourself the best chance of maintaining full support moving forward.
Brands are living entities with life cycles. Establishing themselves as energetic and exciting ideas, their growth potential is high. Gradually, they nestle themselves into a comfortable position in the market, and may show signs of a plateau. At the point where this happens, brands may notice that consumer’s buying habits are changing – they might be looking for a new product or an entirely different service altogether. When this happens, research is vital to a brand’s development, and an audit is an effective way of identifying the significant changes that need to be made to realign with the market, and customer expectation.
A brand audit combines a complete check up of performance and current position in the market, and compares the results with it’s stated goals. Audits are helpful for strategic planning and creative solutions, and they often serve to demonstrate key problems with the brand. A brand audit should be introduced as a way to understand and determine problems, and to turn them into strengths.
Your brand has the potential to inspire, captivate and keep your audience engaged. A good and detailed audit ensures new growth opportunities, and considers both the existing customers along with the new generation that need to be targeted. Both developing and established brands should therefore audit periodically, to ensure that they are on the right track.
A comprehensive audit will usually address the following:
- – Clarify the value of the brand in a market, and identify how aware the brand is of its market and audience
- – Help to identify the brand’s effectiveness and offer insight on how it could be improved and developed
- – Keep track of exterior threats to the brand and market competition
- – Offer an opportunity to evaluate a product, make changes or develop a new one
- – Identify the perception of the brand, it’s image, and it’s reputation
- – Evaluate the efforts of the team to manage, contribute, and promote the brand and ensure it is fully effective in the market
- – Look closely at the types of company the brand seeks to align itself with, and observe how they represent themselves
- – See how employees speak and interact with customers and deliver messaging about the brand.
Whilst direct consultation and interviews may be best achieved by external parties, audits don’t have any fixed rules. Exploration is encouraged, and everyone from your team to your partners can play an active role.
Breaking down your strengths, weaknesses and opportunities into a simple chart is a really effective way for all parties involved with your brand to have their say. It immediately highlights issues from a number of positions, and can give an early indication on the direction your brand may need to go to address them.
Another simple exercise is to ask your team to identify the functional and the emotional benefits of the brand. This forces them to separate out the what they do and the why they do it. Further explorations of this exercise might require a graphic designer to help delve into a more holistic investigation of your brand values with some brand sprint exercises.
Talking directly to an external audience that includes both your current, and prospective customers is an invaluable way of finding out how your brand is received. Setting up a series of questions that can be asked in person, via social media or email will bring you closer to the audience and help you understand their expectations.
There are no wrong or right questions. All feedback, whether negative or positive is valuable. A brand audit provides the opportunity to find out the issues a product is facing with sales, and to identify how a product contributes to the position of the brand in the market. Positive points about your brand can be used to build a better connection with your consumer, and negative feedback can be used to address processes, strategy and the way your brand is communicated.
Talking to your employees identifies problems they face, and helps to develop solutions to managing processes more effectively. Employees may also be able to help you and give you suggestions for how your brand can be strengthened.
Identifying your competitors position in the market and their successes will help you to identify what you could be doing better. Finding out specifics about their processes, and customer retention techniques can be incredibly valuable.
Know your identity
You need to know exactly what your brand is known for in order to understand where it stands in the market.
Ensuring your product is backed by a strong visual identity will make you instantly recognisable with your customers. Your audience will associate your brand identity with your product or service, and that identity is what forges the connection between you and your customers.
Once you get all the information in place you will easily be able to work on the negative issue and feedback you have received from both the internal and external sources. A detailed plan of findings should be followed by a series of actionable targets, with a timeline of expected results. After you have taken action on each area, monitor progress and results.
Keep in mind that as the landscape continues to change you will continually need to update and innovate to stay relevant ahead of competition. Building an audit into your timeline will ensure that you continually adapt to reach targets and align with your goals.
Ready to start your audit? Talk to us!