Brand Audit 101: Assessing and Elevating Your Brand Identity

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Is your brand getting lost in a crowded market? Having a top-notch product isn’t always enough ? your branding may be getting in the way of communicating your message with clarity and consistency.   Brand audits are crucial for generating insights that drive effective marketing strategies. In this article, we will explore the key components of a brand audit and provide practical tips for conducting a successful assessment of your brand identity.  

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Understanding the Importance of a Brand Audit

A brand audit is the critical examination of a brand’s position in the market. It allows a company to assess, enhance, and elevate its brand identity by understanding its strengths, weaknesses, competition, and public perception.

Comprehensive audits will cover all aspects of the brand experience.

  • Internal branding involves educating employees about a company’s values and mission so that everyone is working towards a shared goal.

  • External branding refers to the image that a company aims to present to its customers. This can be communicated through advertisements, social media, websites, and visual elements like logos and color palettes.

  • Customer experience is how customers interact with a brand through engaging with content or purchasing products and services.

Ideally, all three of these elements should be in sync to present a unified, effective brand experience. But that’s easier said than done. If you’re noticing gaps between how you want your brand to be perceived and how customers are actually engaging, you may want to conduct a brand audit to determine how to connect those dots.

Companies should always be prepared to adjust their messaging according to market trends. Take Zoom for example. Before the pandemic, the video conferencing platform primarily targeted the business sector, but global shutdowns meant that Zoom’s services were in high demand from schools, families, and individuals as well.

The company recognized this need and adjusted its brand experience to incorporate these new users, developing more fun and interactive features that connected with its wider audience.

Key Components of a Brand Audit

Conducting a full-scale brand audit can seem like an immense task, but it becomes more manageable once you break it down into its key components.

Here are four main categories that you should focus on when auditing your brand.

1. Logo and Visual Elements

Your logo, brand colors, typography, and other design elements create the first impression customers have when interacting with your brand. They should evoke an emotional reaction that is consistent with your overall brand messaging and visual style.

Questions to Ask

  • Is your branding visually appealing and memorable?

  • Are the visual elements consistent across all brand touchpoints, including website, social media, and marketing materials?

2. Messaging and Tone

Your messaging and tone should be thoughtfully aligned with your business objectives and company profile. Take a close look at all your existing messaging across social media, ads, and marketing materials to evaluate whether it remains consistent and projects a unique voice.

If you don’t already have established brand guidelines, now is the time to create them.

Questions to Ask

  • Is your messaging aligned among internal teams, including marketing, sales, and customer support?

  • Are your brand guidelines updated to match industry standards or design trends?

3. Target Audience Analysis

Go back to the ideal customer profiles that you created when initially crafting your sales and marketing strategies. If your data and analytics are not showing a strong response from these customers, then you should re-evaluate your messaging and compare it to competitors who are currently reaching those customers.

Questions to Ask

  • When you look at your engagement data, can you pick out clear demographics or is it unclear who is reacting to your content?

  • How does your current audience engage with your brand? Which channels and touchpoints are used most frequently?

4. Competitor Benchmarking

Competitor benchmarking can tell you just as much about your own brand as it does about others in the market. By identifying their strengths and weaknesses you can identify gaps to target and areas where increased marketing efforts might be wasted.

Questions to Ask

  • Who are the market leaders in your space and what can you learn from their branding?

  • If you’re an industry leader, what do up-and-coming competitors offer that you don’t?

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Assessing Your Current Brand Identity

For a brand audit to be effective, it should be as comprehensive as possible. That means touching on all of the elements discussed above, from design style to competitor benchmarking.

Brand Audit Checklist

  1. Define your brand audit goals. What metrics will you use to measure performance? What do you expect to learn from this process? Create a brand audit template to follow as you go.

  2. Review current marketing materials. Look at your website, social media platforms, advertisements, newsletters, packaging, and any other external communications. Are they consistent and do they speak in your brand voice?

  3. Review the data. Analyze website traffic, social media analytics, sales data, and demographic trends to determine whether your communications are reaching the intended audience and whether they are engaging in return.

  4. Conduct customer surveys. While crunching the numbers will give you quantitative data, you need to pair this with qualitative data gained from personal feedback provided by actual customers.

  5. Conduct internal surveys. Make sure your employees are educated about your company mission and feel good about representing the brand.

  6. Conduct competitive analysis. Look around at other players in the industry and take cues from what they do well.

  7. Review results and create a plan. Use all of the information you?ve gathered to formulate a plan for rolling out changes to your branding efforts. Start with the things that will create the biggest impact, such as a new visual identity or new brand guidelines for written content.

  8. Track progress. Monitor results according to your original brand audit goals. Are your new branding efforts having the desired effect? Consider conducting A/B testing or focus groups to test new ideas on smaller groups before rolling out large-scale changes.

Enhancing Your Brand Identity

When it comes to updating your brand’s visual elements, you’ll need to work closely with your creative team to refine your visual language and ensure that it’s aligned with current market trends. Consider working with external consultants who specialize in re-branding efforts.

Here’s a list of visual elements that you should review if you’re planning to enhance your brand identity.

  • Logo

  • Color palette

  • Typography

  • Photography style

  • Videography style

  • Illustration style

  • Website design and page layouts

  • Social media post design

  • Icons and graphics

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Elevating Your Brand Identity to Stand Out

The first step to elevating your brand identity is to make sure you’re getting the fundamentals right. That means following tried and true branding practices like exhibiting the three Cs:

  • Clarity

  • Consistency

  • Constancy

All strong brands use this framework to ensure that their messaging stays connected to their target audiences. Think about how little the core brand identity of Nike has changed over the past couple of decades. While they constantly adapt to visual design trends, their tone and key visual elements remain consistent.

Once you?ve adhered to the three Cs, you can leverage more innovative digital tools and platforms for greater visibility to spread your messaging to wider audiences.

Measuring the Impact of Brand Enhancements

Tracking brand performance can be more subjective than other aspects of business performance, such as financial metrics. But you can still use data and analytics to gauge customer perception and assess market share changes as you implement your new branding strategy.

By utilizing tools such as Google Analytics, brand management software, social media analytics, surveys, or other feedback methods, you can gather more than enough information to track performance.

Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to branding that you can use to measure the impact of your brand enhancements.

  • Brand engagement: Determined by interaction and engagement rates across different platforms.

  • Brand awareness: How many people are familiar with your brand among your target audience?

  • Brand preference: Do people prefer your brand over competitors?

  • Brand loyalty: Determined by customer retention rates and repeat purchases.

  • Brand equity: What is your brand’s value and perception in the market?

  • Mentions: How many mentions does your brand get on social media?

  • Brand sentiment: Do people talk about your brand positively or negatively?

  • Brand differentiation: How distinct is your brand compared to competitors?

  • Brand reach: What is the extent of your brand’s visibility and exposure among your target audience?

  • Share of voice: What percentage of conversations and mentions does your brand have compared to competitors?

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