Your brand represents the emotional connection your customers have with your business, product, or service. While you have control over the visual and verbal expressions of your brand, if you lack a brand strategy you can easily lose focus. Regularly conducting brand audits will allow you to track your brand’s health and determine your future steps.
1. Create an audit framework.
The first step of your brand audit involves creating a framework, by looking internally to identify your company’s mission and strategic objectives. Honestly evaluate your brand’s pros and cons, so you can see it the same way your customers do. To conduct your own brand audit, consider these elements:
- Your primary competitors
- The strengths and weaknesses of your product or service
- Your target customers, and your plans for reaching them
- The market position of your brand relative to competitors
- Your differentiators, such as quality of service or price
- Current and projected industry trends
- Your goals for your brand
- The purpose and use of your website
2. Study your web analytics.
hecking your site analytics is an important first step in evaluating your brand’s health. After you’ve created a framework for your audit, you should analyze your website performance by studying the following metrics:
Don’t focus solely on the quantity of traffic you’re receiving. Also consider whether or not your traffic gains are coming from your geographical target markets. If a high percentage of this traffic comes from markets you don’t serve, you may need to target your traffic more carefully.
Bounce rate measures the percentage of people who visit your site, and then leave immediately. This metric is particularly important for e-commerce sites, since many people fail to make a purchase after being directed to a landing page. A bounce rate exceeding 50 percent indicates that something is driving visitors away from your website.
This metric shows the number of times each of your site pages is visited, so you can determine which of your pages are the most popular. If you operate an e-commerce website, pageviews will show you which products are viewed most frequently, as well as the ones in need of better promotion.
A particularly important metric for e-commerce and SaaS websites, the conversion rate measures the number of visitors performing a desired activity on your site. This could be the purchase of your product, the creation of an account, or a subscription to your newsletter.
3. Talk to your customers and prospects.
While you should definitely study your website analytics, it’s a mistake to rely exclusively on that data. You need frequent feedback from your customers to ensure that your brand message is intact, and questioning them personally can provide very useful information. Worthwhile questions to ask include:
- Which words would you type into a search engine when searching for a company like ours?
- Why did you decide to do business with us?
- What makes our business different from others?
- Which qualities come to mind when you think of our brand?
- Did our customer service representative offer prompt assistance?
- If you could change one thing about our brand, what would that be?
- How would you rate your overall experience on our website?
4. Evaluate your brand assets.
Another key element of the brand audit process is a review of your current assets. This involves taking an inventory of where and how your brand identity is being used. Brand assets may be divided into internal and external categories. When evaluating your internal brand assets, you should consider your:
- Brand voice
- Unique selling proposition
- Brand values
- Corporate culture
- Brand positioning
Evaluating your external brand assets includes looking at your:
- Social media presence
- Public relations
- Memberships and sponsorships
5. Devise an action plan.
A brand audit is useless unless you take action. To do so, create a detailed report of your findings from the brand audit process, and set actionable targets to address those issues. List all of the problems you’ve uncovered during the audit, and write down the actions you plan to take in order to address these issues. Also record the results you expect, and a reasonable timeline for achieving these goals. Once you’ve executed your action plans, monitor your progress by repeating the brand audit process.
Conducting an effective brand audit isn’t easy, since it requires a strong commitment from management, as well as time and effort. However, a proper brand audit will reveal the areas of your business in need of improvement, and lay the foundation for the creation of a much stronger brand.