A Simple 6 Step Process to Performing a Brand Audit (And Why You Totally Should!)
You’re at your wits end.
Your business is….surviving. But it’s not thriving like it once was. Your competition, who you KNOW has an inferior product to you, is suddenly taking your customers. Not all of them, mind you. But a decent portion. There’s really no logical explanation in your mind.
When you think about all the time, money, and energy you’ve put into your business, the thought of potentially having to shut your doors is making you lose sleep. Frustrated, you take to analyzing your product. It’s solid. It’s functional, durable, and affordable. It should be a no-brainer sell. And not that long ago it was flying off the shelves. So what happened? You bury your face in your hands and start to think this is the beginning of the end.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Rarely is the answer in your product. If you have a crap product, you won’t be in business long. You won’t even be surviving. You would have bailed a long time ago.
No, your product isn’t your problem.
The stark reality of today’s world is that competition kills businesses. The sooner you accept this, the better off you and your business will be. You have to make sure that you stand out from your competitors through “differentiation.” Again, this isn’t about changing your product or your offerings. There’s only so many bells and whistles you can add. You differentiate your business THROUGH YOUR BRAND.
Your brand carries your business. A solid brand adds equity to your business, not only increasing sales from your customer, but it also enhances the financial value of the company should you choose to exit.
Your brand helps you determine where your strengths lie (as well as vulnerabilities and shortcomings) allowing you to better serve your customers. Which IS why you’re in business right? (If not, you have much bigger issues to look at.)
Your brand (and the value of your brand) gives you both direct and indirect benefits. The better your brand, the more you can charge a premium price for your product. You can spend less money keeping customers and finding new ones. AND you can attract (and retain) top talent. This is a killer benefit if you’re in a service industry by the way.
Your brand IS your success. It is the soul of your company.
Most people don’t understand fully what a brand is, which is why it’s often overlooked. A brand is so much more than a logo or graphic. Your brand is everything in your business. It’s the experience of buying from you. In short, your brand is the way your customer perceives you.
I’m going to repeat that because it’s invaluable. YOUR BRAND IS THE WAY YOUR CUSTOMER PERCEIVES YOU.
Notice, I didn’t say “the way you are” or “the product you sell.” I also damn sure didn’t say “it’s your logo or website.” It’s the way your customer perceives you.
Ok so I’ve thrown a lot of information at you and I’m sure you’re thinking, “what the hell do I do?”
The answer? A brand audit.
Remember when you thought the solution was analyzing your product? Apply the same thought process to your brand. Look at where you are. Where you want to be. How you can improve. All these answers will give you the action plan that you seek. You’re welcome, young grasshopper.
Now, let’s get real for a second. Improving your brand is key. BUT, it won’t solve your situation overnight. This isn’t for the feint of heart. If you’re not willing to make a change, don’t waste your time doing a brand audit. But if you want to have long-term success and stability, step through the proverbial doors and come right this way.
Here it is. 6 powerful steps to help you do your own brand audit.
- Step 1 – Establish a definition for your brand and what your company stands for.This is from YOUR eyes, not your customers. This is where you want to be. Your destination on the map, so to speak.
- Step 2 – Compile all your marketing materials in one place and analyze.This is what you might have THOUGHT branding was before reading this post. Grab your logo, correspondence items, business cards, brochures, etc. Pull up your website and blog. Pull up the analytics. Look at them all side by side and pinpoint inconsistencies, trends, etc. Analyze the quality. This information can be used to determine if your current marketing is adding differentiation and impact to your brand or if the inconsistencies and low quality are adding to your customer’s confusion or worse, distrust.
- Step 3 – Survey or interview your existing customers.This is your brand. Period. Remember it’s HOW your customers perceive you. So ask them. Determine what is going well, what could be improved, and what they think you stand for. Definitely ask them what did they NOT get from your competitors that made them seek you.
- Step 4 – Ask the same questions of your managers and staff.They offer a different viewpoint but it’s just as valuable. Instead of what they didn’t get from your competitors, instead ask them why they chose to work for you instead of your competitors.
- Step 5 – Compile all the information from step 2-4 and compare with your answers to step 1.
If there are discrepancies, your brand is not delivering what it’s promising.
- Step 6 – Create an action plan.
Remember when I said don’t waste your time if you aren’t ready to work? Step 6 is why. A brand audit is useless unless you use the information gained to make progress toward your destination. Create an action plan that includes how you will monitor your brand and the steps you will take to resolve the inconsistencies and quality issues you found during your audit. Finally, give yourself a reasonable timetable to do each action. Then do them!
There you have it. Your frustrations can likely be diminished by doing a brand audit. It’s a process, but all successful brands do it. You quickly become outdated and out of touch with your customers if you don’t.
There’s only 6 steps and it will save you tons of headaches down the road. If this post raised more questions for you, reach out! I’m happy to go into further detail.
I’d love to hear your comments.
How often do you do brand audits?
Do you feel I missed any steps?