If you are slipping in the search engines, sales are sluggish or competitors are overtaking you, it’s time for a brand audit!
Companies struggle to compete for buyers’ attention with evaporating attention spans, assaults by competitors and umpteen distractions.
What a brand audit will tell you
Scrutinizing your company’s purpose, value and messaging through a meticulous brand audit process will reveal both vulnerabilities and opportunities. Once you know WHY this is happening, you can take action to fix it now and plan for the future.
What is a brand audit?
An audit takes a deep dive into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to business growth.
The results identify a brand’s promise, most pressing issues and greatest market opportunities. A growth strategy can be developed from this vital information.
What are your potential customer’s needs and desires? How does your offering solve their problems and fill those needs and desires? What is your competition missing? The answers reveal a brand’s true value.
Reasons why companies perform a brand audit:
- There is no clear brand strategy, value or message
- The health of the brand is in question
- Their market environment has changed
- Their product/service has become a commodity
- There is a shift in product offerings
- A major marketing campaign is planned
- Long-term business planning is underway
Every brand has a singular mission, purpose and value.
Sometimes companies just don’t know what that is. Or they aren’t communicating it in a way that people get it.
In a recent quote in The NY Times, Senator Elizabeth Warren said this about her ideas and policies:
“The only thing that worries me is I won’t describe it in a way that… — ” she trailed off. “It’s like teaching class. ‘Is everybody in here getting this?’
Yikes! With this much at stake, people had better “get it”.
In order to motivate people and earn their trust, we must understand what people truly value. In Warren’s case, it’s not a list of her policies though they are massively impressive. Similarly, listing services is a common mistake many companies make. Here’s why:
Buying is an emotional, not rational, decision.
People personally identify with and are inspired by the brands they love. Studies actually show athletic performance improved when wearing Nike shoes, even though the shoes were virtually identical to a generic brand. People believed they would, and so they did. It’s the feeling of confidence, belonging, and trust in the product that galvanizes people.
Just think about the fanatical devotion to sports teams, religions, celebrities, Manolo’s—even countries! What business owner, political candidate or aspiring rock star doesn’t want that kind of brand loyalty?
Brands must also demonstrate how they solve problems
Most entrepreneurs say they didn’t start their business because they wanted to make money—they say started them because they saw a colossal problem and found a better way to solve it, like these companies:
- Google organizes massive information
- Apple made music ultra-portable
- Target offers affordable chic
- Nike brings “inspiration and innovation” to every athlete in the world
- Charities give us a way to feel good and do good
A brand audit will reveal the real problem the company solves.
Getting to the WHY
An effective outcome in any brand audit may begin and end with answering the “why should anyone care?” question. It takes a big shovel to dig out that answer. But dig we must!
Without a strong position and true value, a client’s offering is nothing more than a commodity. The only competitive advantage for this position is price, and it always gets lower and lower.
We typically see this: “We offer great service.” Or, “We have 200 years of experience.” Even, “We are the leading…”. You may have all the experience in the world, but really, who cares?
When you show me WHY that helps ME, now you are on to something.
How to conduct a Brand Audit
The importance of participation, collaboration and discussion by leadership, staff and clients cannot be overstated. It won’t work without it.
Our brand audit process gives us the insights to create an enduring, defensible brand reputation no other company can own.
The 3 steps to executing an audit
- Gather data
- Organize and analyze the findings
- Create a strategy
1. Gathering data from many sources often results in surprises for the client.
We are often accused of asking a lot of questions, but by pushing for this, we have found hidden secrets even the CEO didn’t know about their own company.
In one case, our client had no idea that the universally used industry term for their product was coined by one of their own long-time employees!
View the project case story here
We gather amazing information and new ideas by engaging in dialog with:
- Focus groups
To determine a brand’s true value, we collect data and information from many sources including but not limited to:
- Website analytics
- Competitors websites and marketing material
- Market analysis
- Marketing plans
- Social Media
- Company business plans
- Financial records
- Customer buying history
- Advertising from the company and competitors
2. Organize and analyze the data
What did we learn? Where can we apply this knowledge now and in the future?
Organizing the data according to purpose, value, market and operations will focus the results to shift every aspect of the company’s marketing efforts.
Understanding what the data tells us enables us to design a strategy based on real, emotional customer needs and our clients’ true value.
- Current brand assets to see how they can be consistent and meaningful
- Competition to see what they are doing, saying and NOT doing
- Customer profiles and buying habits
3. Creating a strategy
The value of the product or service is now clear. We have now identified any weaknesses in the product, messaging or marketing and can address it.
Now we can we use the information to create a brand position no one else can own. Let them chase YOU!
Headlines, copy, images, tone of voice, website design, choice of social media platforms—all of that—will reinforce the new market position for the business.
We must apply this to every customer interaction, from ads to Instagram to websites. Even the person who answers the phone must be on-brand in attitude and language. Ever call Zappos? Need something at Trader Joe’s?
Though not a part of the brand audit itself, execution is crucial. It requires a top-down initiative and persistence over the long run. Leadership must drive the fledgling brand position or it will wither and revert to the old ways.
At Network9, we create a strategy and supply top talent to execute it.
Have a project or a question? Let’s have a conversation at 212-979-8055 or contact us below!