What is a brand audit and how to uncover the issues costing your brand. This episode explains how the brand audit process works, how you can do a brand audit yourself and the reasons why a brand audit report or presentation is important for your brand.
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Welcome to Unified Brand Podcast, brought to you by Elements, Brand Management, a weekly brand building and brand strategy podcast. To help you unlock your brand’s potential. Stand out from the competition and create impact.So what is a brand audit if you think of it like an MOT for your car or when a player joins a new club and has to have a medical a brand audit allows an agency like Elements Brand Management or a business and brand like yourself to run a full diagnostic on your brand.
An audit we’ll look at these individual layers and see how they fit together. Making sure that there is an aligned brand from the internal to the external brand, but it also dive into these layers and look at the individual elements within them.
So brand messaging logo, branded collateral, social media, your website, everything in these layers will be addressed within the audit. You’re also in the audit, look at your direct and indirect competitors. And your audience, and it gives a real three 60 view on where your brand is currently, and it allows the agency or yourself to build out an action plan with some objectives to move the brand forward.
The results were brand audit. We’ll give you a list of objectives and advisories. That’s sort of an action plan that will allow you to address the unseen issues that are currently costing your brand and give you some opportunities for business growth.
So every brand audit is unique to the brand in question, but each should look at the four layers we’ve talked about earlier on and the elements within them. Some brand audits we’ll need to look at sub brands or brand extensions and take those into account as a sort of. Wider brand ecosystem, but each brand audit should look at those four layers and the elements within them, as well as a surface audit of your direct and indirect competitors. You want to look at their position in the market.
You want to look at what they’re doing well and what they’re not doing well, and to give credit where credit is due. So be able to say, okay, they are doing this quite well, and this is where they’re, they’re not doing so well. And it will give you a really good idea of where you currently sit in that market and what your competitive advantage could be.
So why is a brand audit important well you find with a lot of companies they’ve scaled quickly, they’ve added employees, extra level management, maybe they’ve changed tact recently with their message or how they’re presenting themselves. And they’ve thrown themselves completely out of alignment. The idea of an identity crisis.
Now, if you remember the four layers we discussed, well, And identity crisis is when one or more of these layers is out of alignment with the others. What a brand audit does is it looks at those layers, and it looks at the brand where it currently is, and it identifies the layers and the, and the elements that they’re out of alignment and then gives you some options and some advisories to put that back into alignment.
Now you sometimes find it when you’ve had upper level management come in. And they’ve, they’ve changed something and it’s, it’s skewed the brand. It’s moved it onto a tangent and it’s changed how the audience perceives that brand, how the audience interacts with it. It doesn’t feel the same as it used to feel when they interact with that brand.
So the reason for the brand audit is to look at this and to make sure that the brand is aligned. And if it isn’t what isn’t aligned about it and how can we bring it back to that place of a unified brand? So the antidote to the identity crisis is the unified brand and that’s, that’s our methodology, the unified brand.
And the first step to building a unified brand is having a brand audit. Cause what it does is it gives you a good indication of where the brand is currently and gives you some steps to take it, to bring it back to being a unified brand.
So why is a brand audit important? Well, a lot of businesses find themselves in a position of having scaled quickly. And they’ve either added a lot of extra employees or, management, upper level executives that have skewed the course of the brand from what it started off as. And they haven’t stayed true to that initial brand or they’ve grown in a way that has kind of thrown them completely out of alignment with what they started as and what their audience perceives them as sometimes it can be through extensions or the core message or the core brand.
You see this when businesses or brands try to take on a trend or take on a new tactic that doesn’t really fit in with what they are, what they stand for. And it really throws things off, off for the audience they are no longer sure about the brand that they’ve interacted with for a long time. And for people who are coming to it, afresh it, doesn’t add up the message, the visuals, what the brand stands for and what they feel. There’s, there’s a mismatch there. There’s not an alignment.
So what a brand audit is important for is to look at these areas where the brand has kind of gone off on a tangent or been skewed because somebody from higher management has come in and adjusted something that really shouldn’t have been adjusted, or if they’re going to adjust it, they want to make sure that the whole brand has been adjusted.
So it’s all in alignment and they’ve just adjusted one of those layers that we discussed earlier. And what brand audit does is identify the areas that are out of alignment so that there is an action plan to put those back in, to alignment so that you can help your brand. Get back to being aligned and unified.
So the first thing you want to look at when doing a brand audit is to go back to the four layers we talked about earlier on. So looking at those, those four layers and auditing your brand through the lens of those four layers. So the core layer, which is your heart of the brand, which includes the mission, the vision, the values, and the purpose, your strategy layer, or the brains of the brand, which includes your brand strategy positioning. Content marketing strategy,
marketing strategy, business development plans. The identity layer, or the face of your brand, which includes your logo identity system. Color palette, fonts, printed materials, signage, anything visual of your brand photography as well. The voice layer, which is the personality of your brand, which includes, uh, podcasts include your content marketing your video. And any time I’m that your brand is personified as like a character or the personality comes out.
So you want to look at your brand through these four layers, initially, just an, a layer. Level and see how the layers fit together. So do they make sense? And you want to do this from the core, which is the internal part of the brand to the strategy, then identity, and then to the voice.
Then you want to dive into the layers themselves and start looking at the individual elements within each layer and having a look at those and see if they fit in with the wider brand. So for instance, if you looked at the logo, does that make sense with the rest of the, the brand, just in its layer? So the rest of the identity layer, first of all, but then looking at the wider brand and does it make sense? With the wider brand, or if you look at the brand messaging, does that make sense with the core brand or the strategy and where the brand is going? So you want to look at these layers, first of all, as a whole, then dive into them. And a lot of times where you’ll start to see some inconsistencies, although the core and the strategy are probably the, the biggest movers in terms of, if they get thrown out of alignment then they are the biggest cause of an identity crisis, so they can skew you way off track the most common thing that you see. And you’ll probably at least see some of this when you do, when you do your audit, is that the front end of the brands sort of presentation layers of the brand, the identity and the voice are the ones that most commonly have the inconsistencies in and it’s because they’re not communicating that core brand effectively.
So look at the audit, look at the layers. And you’ll start to see where your main issues are and you can start to build up the action plan that we talked about earlier.
The next step is competitive analysis. So you want to look at your direct and indirect competitors.
So what is a director competitor? Well, direct competitor is someone who provides the same solution to your target market. So for example, that might be sky sports and ESPN. They both provide a sports channel to the sametarget market or McDonald’s burger King. So they both sell burgers. The same target market, an indirect competitor is somebody that provides a different solution to your target market. So for example, in the previous example, McDonald’s and burger King, they’re direct competitor Domino’s and McDonald’s is an example of an indirect competitor. So dominos serve pizzas. McDonald’s serve burgers, but to the same target audience. So you want to look at your competitors, but also you want to think about who your indirect competitors are, where could they come from? And sometimes times it’s worth thinking about threats. So emerging markets, it’s technology and advances in technology can sometimes. Put your business under threat from a sort of indirect competition that maybe is only in its early stages, but as businesses and brands like Kodak will tell you if you don’t take those threats seriously. Then you can have big consequences on your brand.
So think about these threats, think about where they possibly could come from. And it might be the case that you start to think about either adopting some of these new emerging technologies or you think of ways to counter them in your strategy and positioning.
So when you’ve identified your direct and indirect competitors, what you want to do is to look at them through the lens of those four layers. So do similar to what you did for yourself, but do it for your competitors. And what you want to look for is how aligned are they, how sort of structured is their brand?
Does it make sense? And where are the weaknesses in their brand? And also where are the strengths? And then what you want to do is you want to look at their positioning and try and work out where their position, where they position themselves. So what are they staking claim to in the market? What are they bringing to the table?
How do they differentiate? And this is a really great exercise audit aside to really identify some of the places that are free in the market, and also where your competitors are kind of pitched up and how you can differentiate.
Next. We want to look at audience research. So if you’ve built out your. Defined target audience or audience segments and your brand personas. It’s a really good point now to get those ready and to refer to them. So if you get those ready, the next thing you want to do is you want to go to where you can. You get some data from so Google analytics, Facebook analytics, Instagram, YouTube, any way you can find some data.
You want to put it all together and you wanna collate it. And you wanna look at. The audience demographics within that data. So who is, who is finding you, who is reaching you, who is interacting with you. And what you want to do is look at that compared to your defined target audience and your brand personas.
If these don’t add up, if it’s a completely different audience that is interacting with your brand, as opposed to who you built your audience around. There’s one of two things happening here. Either you have a product or service that is serving a completely different audience or segment than what you thought, or you are not reaching the right audience.
Now, both of these are obviously a problem, especially if you built your brand around the idea of trying to reach a specific target audience. So this can give you some sort of indication as to. Maybe what you need to do. So you might need to adjust your messaging or your strategy to reach the right people.
If that’s what you want to do, alternatively, if you’re actually reaching the people that the product’s best suited for, and you were wrong about your target audience and persona, then you can adjust your brand to suit that.
Once you’ve done this what you want to do next is go to anywhere and everywhere your audience hangs out online. That could be Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, generally on social media, looking at different Instagram accounts. And what you want to do is you want to try and get an understanding beyond demographics and who you are, audiences is. So who do they aspire to be? How do they talk? What are their goals? What are their ambitions?
What are their problems around your product and service? And try to build out an idea, you know, a character and again, referring to that persona is this right? Is your audience that you’ve built up, you know, with your personas and your audience does it much who is actually out there and how they talk and how they think this will give you a really good indication on your audience.
And it’s a really important step to try and work out how your brand is being perceived, uh, in this audit, in this audit so that you can. Adjust what you need to adjust in order to rectify the issues that have come up. So by now, you should have a really good idea about how your brand shows up in the world, how it fares against competition and how it’s perceived by your audience.
So now what you need to do is take all the points that you’ve found in the previous steps and create an action plan. So a list of objectives that you can do internally, or that you can use an agency like Elements, Brand Management, to help you with. what you want to do is work through these, and you want to do it through the layers.
So from the core to the strategy, the identity to the voice and make sure you do it from the internal brand to the external brand and not the other way around, because a shift in the core. or, the strategy lay of the brand will make massive changes to the front end of the brand. So make sure you do it from the internal brand to the external brand.
So to sum up a brand audit can be a really good way to evaluate where your brand currently is. And to give you some pointers and advisories on how to take it forward. If you’d like any help with your brand audit, there is a link in the description below where you can schedule it call with elements, brand management.
And we can go through a free consultation where we can decide whether or not you want to do an audit or anything else surrounding your brand.
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Have a great week. Catch up soon. Keep those brands unified.