You’ve put time, energy, and money into your brand. And after all that effort, it can be tempting to move onto the next task. But if you want to make a lasting mark on your audience, it’s worth checking in periodically with a brand audit.
Brand audits are like doing a health checkup on your brand. They give you an idea of how your brand is doing in relation to your marketing goals so you can determine your future steps. Conducting them regularly will help you make sure you’re on track and making the right impression.
Each time I've conducted brand audits with clients over the years, we've uncovered everything from design discrepancies to long-forgotten brand assets. The audits often help clients realize just how inconsistent they've been in their branding and messaging and how greatly they need systems and processes in place to stay organized and intentional.
Yet despite how important and enlightening brand audits are, they often get pushed to the back burner. Coming face to face with the state of your brand can be anxiety inducing, and an audit can feel like a big undertaking if you don't have a way of keeping everything organized.
9-Step Brand Audit Checklist
To help you stay on track and make the most of your audit, we've created a 9-step brand audit checklist for you to follow that can serve as your framework as you conduct the audit. As you walk through the process step by step, think about the key aspects that make up your brand, such as:
- Your mission, vision, and goals
- Your values and differentiators
- Your buyer personas
- Your brand promise
- Your value proposition
- Your brand voice
- Your position relative to your primary competitors
- Your strengths and weaknesses
Together, these components will provide a backdrop for the data you collect during this and any future brand audits, helping you to see the bigger picture, evaluate your brand with confidence, and ensure you're making an authentic and powerful impression on your audience..
1. Set goals and establish your priorities
The first step on our brand audit checklist is to get clear on what you hope to achieve as a business. This helps you understand exactly what you're assessing when conducting the audit.
First, consider your overall marketing objectives. What are you trying to accomplish? Potential goals could be increasing your visibility, changing your audience's perception of your brand, appealing to a wider or new audience, and entering new markets. Whatever your objectives, make sure you're specific.
Then, prioritize your goals based on what you can accomplish most quickly—since quick wins can help build momentum—as well as which ones will bring you the biggest ROI. That way, you're focusing your energy on the things that will make the most noticeable difference for your brand.
2. Evaluate your brand assets
The second step on our brand audit checklist is to evaluate all your brand assets, including printed and online materials. During all of your brand audits, make sure to consider your:
- Product packaging
- Business cards
- Marketing emails
- Social media platforms
The goal is to see whether all of your assets are consistent with each other in terms of their design, as well as in alignment with your overall visual identity. If they don't accurately reflect who you are and what you're all about, it may be time for some updates.
3. Review your website analytics and social media presence
Following the assessment of your brand assets, the next step on our brand audit checklist is to review your website and social analytics. Because these assets directly impact your ability to communicate with your audience, it's important to see how well they're functioning as part of your brand audits.
When looking at your website analytics, you should consider the following metrics:
- Traffic: Assess both the quantity of traffic to your website as well as where it's coming from—many visitors from markets you don't serve could mean you need to target your traffic more carefully. It's also important to have multiple sources so if you lose one, it doesn't have as much of an impact on your overall traffic.
- Pageviews: Checking the number of times each of your site pages is visited can give you valuable insight about which ones are the most popular and which ones may need some attention.
- Bounce rate: This metric measures the percentage of visitors who leave your site immediately after visiting. A large bounce rate indicates that something is driving people away from your site and you should investigate to figure out what it may be.
- Conversion rate: Knowing how many visitors are performing certain actions on your site—like subscribing to your newsletter—can show you how well your site is performing. If it's lower than it should be, you should consider making some changes.
Evaluating your social presence involves looking at your analytics to determine whether you're reaching your target audience and your marketing efforts are paying off. Pay special attention to metrics like:
- Impressions and reach
- Response rate and time
4. Examine your marketing communications
The fourth step on our brand audit checklist is to examine how you're communicating with your audience. Communication is at the heart of building relationships between your brand and your audience, which means your messaging deserves special attention in your brand audits.
When you look at your marketing communications, there are several factors you should think about:
- How well you express your brand identity, including your mission, values, and differentiators
- Whether you're communicating the value your brand has to offer and how you can serve your target audience
- How successfully you stand out from the competition
- Where and how often you communicate with your target audience
- Whether your communications clearly direct your target audience to the next step
As you reflect, think about where your brand may be falling short and what changes you can make to improve the connection you have with your target audience.
5. Talk to your audiences
At this point, it's important to compare your findings to feedback from your audiences, both internal (such as your leadership team and staff), and external (such as your customers and partners). Knowing how they perceive your brand can help you identify any existing gaps between what you feel is important and what they feel is important.
When interviewing your employees and other stakeholders, here are some questions you should be sure to ask:
- How would you describe our brand?
- How do you feel about our mission and vision?
- What problems do we solve for our customers?
- What are our strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you fulfill our brand promise?
- How can we make our internal branding better?
While questions to ask your customers and partners may have a different angle, they target many of the same ideas and will help you understand how people perceive your brand from the outside:
- Which qualities come to mind when you think of our brand?
- How would you search for a company like ours on Google?
- What makes our brand different from others?
- Why did you decide to do business with us?
- What was your experience like on our website?
- How was your experience working with our brand?
- If you could change one thing about our brand, what would that be?
6. Assess your brand awareness
Taking things a step beyond your employees and customers, the sixth step of our brand audit checklist asks you to assess your level of brand awareness, which is important in helping you foster relationships. This involves talking to people from your target market who aren't customers, so you can evaluate how well you're reaching them.
Some possible questions include:
- Have you ever heard of our brand?
- What do you know about us?
- What would you tell your friends about our brand?
- What problems do you think we solve?
Talking to your prospects can round out the insight you gathered by talking to your internal and external audiences, giving you a balanced perspective of the perceptions of your brand from every angle.
7. Compare with competitors
Once you've gathered enough information to create a standalone picture of your brand, it’s time to compare your brand with your competitors. This is important for understanding your position within your industry.
You should consider not just your direct competitors, but also the brands that come up in the same search results or are considered similar by your audience. When drawing comparisons, take a holistic view by including components such as marketing materials, social media platforms, websites, and customer service.
If while conducting this and future brand audits, you can't clearly define what sets you apart, you may need to make changes to your brand strategy and positioning to better leverage what makes you different.
8. Review your results and create an action plan
Now that you've collected all of your data, the eighth step of our brand audit checklist is to review your findings and create an action plan for how to move forward. Start by analyzing the results of this and previous brand audits and then document which areas need immediate improvement and which issues can be addressed at a later date.
Based on the gaps you've identified, you'll need to determine the extent of the updates you need to make to ensure your brand is hitting your goals and making the impression you want to make on your audience. Depending on how significant they are, you may need a refresh or a total rebrand.
9. Monitor your performance
The ninth and final step of our brand audit checklist is to monitor your performance following the changes you make to your brand. It's important to evaluate whether your efforts are achieving the results you intended and how close you are to hitting your goals.
Plus, keeping tabs on your performance will give you a better idea of where you're at by the time you're ready to conduct your next brand audit!
Get a clearer picture of your brand with a Brand Checkup
If a complete brand audit seems too overwhelming at the moment, you can start smaller with Miss Details' Brand Checkup. Like a mini audit, our Brand Checkup will help you organize and evaluate your existing brand assets so you can realign your brand and create real traction with your marketing.