The Brand Audit: The Who, What, When and Why You Need One NOW
"We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."
- Albert Einstein
This quote from Albert Einstein is one of my absolute favorites because it displays how we should view problems in our personal and professional lives.
I see entrepreneurs make two big mistakes when they approach their brand and marketing in general:
They refuse to face the music and be self-reflective as a business owner. They think they are the expert at everything, make no mistakes, and are resistant to constructive criticism. They have to be the ones who control the process and find the solutions without outside help or feedback.
They refuse to look at the past and present and use their analysis to guide their business and marketing decisions moving forward. They are reactive, instead of proactive.
Entrepreneurs who make the above mistakes waste precious time and money on marketing tactics, "quick fixes," and more because they firmly believe these miracle solutions will do the trick, and the fact that they were the ones who found these miracle solutions is everything.
REAL TALK, MY FRIENDS.
You cannot and should not start any big campaign or marketing project without investing the proper amount of time looking at your current brand and marketing assets, the competitive landscape, and your target consumer's current behaviors. If you do, you're flying blind, going head first, [insert another saying here 😉].
This is where a brand audit comes in. It gives you valuable insights into what's working, what's not, and the steps you need to take to improve.
If you've never conducted a brand audit, I suggest you do so right now as the information you uncover might affect your future email campaigns, social media posts, print items and overarching business decisions.
What is a Brand Audit?
I like to call a brand audit a "let's get real" process. It's a time where you need to be honest with yourself about your place in the marketplace, locally or nationally, and what's been working, what's not been working, and most importantly, how to fix it.
Your relationship with your brand is like any relationship you have. In order to grow, be more connected, and build, you need to nurture, cultivate and most of all listen - listen to what the data and internal and external stakeholders are telling you. This is NOT the time to be sensitive.
Key Components of your Brand Audit
At Halcon, we evaluate these four components of your brand during an audit:
Target Consumer Behaviors
When I say "assets," this includes your logos, color palettes, fonts, brand values, mission statement, vision statement, brand pillars, key messaging, etc.
You should have all the above and more in one master Brand Book or Brand & Style Guide, so it's easily accessible and tangible - something you can easily analyze and share.
All B2B or B2C marketing pieces you create should stem from your internal-facing brand assets (a.k.a. the roots of the healthy and flourishing tree that is your brand).
If you don't have a Brand Book or key elements of your branding, then it's time to work on this first! Or, reach out to brand strategists like the folks at Halcon Marketing to help you develop your brand.
During a brand audit, you should be reviewing all your marketing materials (digital, television, print, etc.) to make sure they properly reflect your brand.
Some pieces you can review are:
Social Media Accounts
Key questions to ask yourself:
Do these items reflect my brand look and feel?
Do they properly address the needs of my target audience?
Are they clear and easy to understand?
Do they look good?
Are they engaging?
Do they properly reflect what YOU think your brand represents?
Do they properly reflect what you want your target consumer to think about your brand?
Do they have a consistent look and feel across all platforms and mediums?
Do they have the same brand message?
The Competitive Landscape
It is important to have a full grasp of where you stack up against your competitors. Doing an audit of your brand also entails auditing your competitors' brands as well. From social media posts to keyword research, it is crucial to know who else is out there "talking" to your target customers, what they are saying and how they are saying it.
Target Consumer Behaviors
If you're an established business with a pool of previous customers or clients, you can send surveys or hold a focus group to receive important feedback on customer behaviors, likes, and dislikes about their experiences with your business and overall brand identity.
TIP: You can also ask similar questions to your employees and executive team to see if their perceptions of your brand align with yours and/or your customers.
How did you hear about our company?
What was your experience like?
What words would you describe our brand?
Describe the problem we solve in one sentence.
Why did you choose our business over others?
Would you recommend us to friends and family? Why or why not?
Your Ultimate Goal
The most effective brand audits give you the guidance you need to adjust and refine your message and visual touchpoints. By the end of the process, you should know exactly what you need to do next to properly communicate with your target audience. You should also be able to get rid of the marketing tactics, collateral, internal/external processes that don't support your brand goals or are currently taking up more time than they're worth. You can then invest this new found free time towards other tasks that will move the needle for your brand.
Try doing a brand audit on your own. If you hit a roadblock, don't have the time or need more help, HALCON's team of strategists and designers can do all the work for you through our Brand Audit Service. We will review your current portfolio of branding and marketing assets to uncover opportunities for improvement and identify the roadblocks preventing your business from reaching new customers and retaining current clientele.
TIP: Make this process fun. Get comfortable, gather your colleagues and some snacks (maybe a bottle of wine) and enjoy the process.
Most businesses lack the budget to hire an in-house marketing team or the time and expertise to execute marketing campaigns. HALCON makes impactful brand storytelling and stunning design accessible for all businesses and budgets. Learn more at www.halconmarketing.com.