Brand Audit: Free Checklist and Easy 7 Step-by-Step Guide
Last update: 5 September 2022 at 12:42 pm
Branding plays a significant role in how customers choose companies with which to work or buy from. It’s one of your business’ most important assets, and it’s critical to develop an appealing brand and story that customers can connect with on an emotional level.
If a business has excellent branding, it’s automatically more desirable to people. However, if it doesn’t resonate with your target audience, you’re likely losing sales and customers to the competition. The best way to fix this problem is to conduct a brand audit.
In this article, we’ll review the following:
- What is a brand audit?
- What should you audit?
- 7 easy-steps guide on how to perform a successful audit.
- The benefits of conducting a brand audit.
- Do you really need to conduct a brand audit?
By working through this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to perform a successful brand audit, or otherwise known as a brand assessment, and improve how others perceive your brand.
What Is a Brand Audit?
A brand audit is a process that analyses a brand’s market performance against the competition and evaluates how the target audience perceives it.
During the brand audit process, you’ll discover valuable information that’ll enable you to improve your brand’s positioning in the market.
It’s not impossible to perform an extensive brand audit if you’re a smaller business or have an internal marketing department, but many businesses turn to branding agencies to help them examine both their external and internal image due to some complex procedures.
What Should You Audit?
You may have heard that brand audits can help a company increase brand awareness or position themselves better amongst their target market, but it can be difficult to know where to start.
You can audit just about anything within your company but here are some recommendations to get you started:
- Your brand’s current position: Where do you stand amongst the competition
- What is your brand essence and value: What do you stand for and what are the core values of your company?
- What about brand’s purpose: Why does your brand exist and what does your brand solve?
- Brand personality: Who are you and what makes your brand what it is today?
How to Conduct a Brand Audit in 7 Simple Steps
The following steps will help you conduct a comprehensive brand audit:
- Design the audit framework
- Question your audience
- Review web anayltics
- Review social data
- Compare with competitors
- Internal auditing
- Post audit
Note, not all industries are the same, and no guide will work accurately for every business.
You can follow the guidelines we’ve given to outline your evaluation and adapt it to suit your needs.
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Design the Audit Framework
Before you can begin the brand evaluation process, you have to create a framework. It’ll act as your guideline throughout the evaluation and ensure that all the relevant metrics and factors are considered and analysed.
Additionally, it’ll also help you put the collected data to use once the assessment is complete.
You should include the following in your framework:
- A brand summary that consists of the value proposition, brand promise, story, and positioning statement.
- Whether you’re evaluating internal, external, or both types of branding.
- Your current brand position.
- The goals you want to achieve by doing the audit.
- Your strengths, weaknesses, objectives, and competitors.
- How you see your current target market.
In regards to the types of branding, you wish to evaluate, a comprehensive brand evaluation will include an overview of both external and internal branding pillars.
The framework doesn’t need to be a formal document. However, it should clearly outline the current situation, the brand audit process you intend to follow, and the end goal you’re trying to achieve.
Setting Goals and Priorities in Your Framework
Goals and priorities form a crucial part of your brand audit framework. By setting these early on, you’ll have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish with the process.
More importantly, you’ll be able to identify relevant data without getting lost in copious amounts of irrelevant information.
Consider questions such as:
- What is your current brand awareness level?
- Do you need to achieve higher visibility amongst your target customers?
- How are others perceiving your brand?
- Is the brand outdated, inconsistent, or irrelevant?
- Are you aiming to attract a new and different audience?
- Do you want to enter new markets?
- Are there opportunities to expand your market share?
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Which goals can you accomplish faster to achieve a more significant ROI?
Once you know which goals you’re trying to achieve, you’ll have a much better idea of how to get valuable and actionable insights once the audit is complete.
Question Your Audience
The way your audience perceives your brand is an essential part of the audit. Understanding their thoughts, opinions, and experiences is critical to identifying any flaws and gaps between your current position and the one you’re aiming for.
There are 5 ways for you to best reach your audience:
- Email surveys
- Telephone calls
- Social polling
- Website or online questionnaire
- Customer focus groups
Keep in mind that you must speak with the correct stakeholders. If you’re conducting an internal brand assessment, your staff and the company leadership will be your audience.
However, for an external assessment, you’ll need input from customers, business partners, and influencers.
An email survey is easy to set up and relatively inexpensive. If you have an extensive mailing list, you’ll also have access to a sufficient sample size from which to get useful insights for your brand audit.
However, people don’t always respond to email marketing, especially if they’re not personalised.
It’s essential to have a compelling headline that encourages people to participate.
The most significant benefit of telephone surveys is adaptability. Since there’s a living, thinking human being on the phone with the customer, they can probe for additional information if required.
They can also alert you to any unhappy individuals that need immediate attention. While it’s a more expensive option, especially if you work with a third party, it’s a highly effective method.
Polls tend to have excellent interaction rates on social media. If you have a wide following on these platforms, it may be a good idea to use the built-in functionalities to create your brand audit survey.
However, keep in mind that every person who responds to your poll can see the results. Depending on what you’re asking, you might not want your audience to see the information.
Additionally, social platforms tend to have limitations on the number of questions you can ask, so it’s impossible to create a complex survey.
Website or Online Questionnaire
Having a website or an online questionnaire gives you the ability to create a unified polling campaign. You can build a complex, detailed survey and place it on a dedicated landing page on your website.
Once that’s complete, you can send the survey link to your audience via email and social media. That allows you to reach an even broader audience while gleaning additional insights via website analytics.
Customer focus group
This type of manner to receive customer feedback requires your customers to come together in a group to discuss various aspects of your brand.
One member of your company will lead the conversation with specific topical questions before sitting back and listening to the open discussion between customers.
Review Web Analytics
Your website analytics can give you even more insights into your audience and how your brand is performing.
Google Analytics is a free option that’s easy to integrate with almost any site, and it gives you access to exceptionally detailed and insightful data. For example, you’ll be able to review critical elements such as:
- Traffic data
- Page views
- Bounce rate
- Conversion rates
How many people are visiting your website daily? Which countries are they from? What are their demographics and affinities?
Traffic data can help you learn more about your audience and tell you if you’re attracting people from the target customers’ demographics and geographical locations.
If you are one of the many online businesses today, understanding your visitors is a crucial step in creating a content plan that fits your brand and appeals to your audience.
How many times are visitors viewing your pages? Which pages are noticeably more popular than others? Are there any that users don’t seem to enjoy seeing?
Page view data gives you deeper insights into the behaviour of your visitors. It shows where people tend to spend more time, whether they’re new or returning users, and how many pages they look at before leaving your website.
Bounce rate is a critical statistic that often goes ignored. However, it can give you one of the most vital insights of all: whether your website is driving people away.
The bounce rate is determined by people who arrive on your website and then leave immediately.
Ideally, you should have a 40% or lower score, but anything between 40% and 55% is still acceptable. Anything over that, and there’s an issue that you need to address.
A high bounce rate can be the result of:
- Slow loading times
- Misleading title tags or descriptions
- Bad links from other websites
- Low-quality content
- Bad user experience or interface
You should analyse pages with a high score to see how you can improve them.
Time On Page
It’s good to have visitors come on to your site, but you’ll also want them to ideally stay for as much time as possible to have a good idea of which products and services you are selling.
The time on page is calculated by:
The difference of time a visitor lands on a page to the second they leave said page
This metric can give you an idea of pages that may not appeal to potential customers and that require some additional work.
Having an excellent website doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll have high conversion rates. If people aren’t following your calls to action, you may want to review or re-evaluate them. You might also have too many CTAs, confusing your visitors.
If you want people to sign up for your newsletters, focus on driving them to a landing page where they can quickly perform the required action. However, if you want them to make a purchase, make it as easy as possible for users to find what they need and proceed to the checkout.
Many web analytic agencies and other countries are helping businesses with this specific step in the brand audit guide.
Review Social Data
Social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have built-in analytics that you can use to evaluate your brand, its online performance, and the efficacy of your content marketing campaigns.
There are also management tools that consolidate all the information into a single location and give you access to additional insights for your audit.
Like web analytics, you’ll be able to access demographical data. However, you’ll also see how people interact with you online. Other metrics can give you an indication of:
- Overall brand awareness
- Negative and positive interactions
- Customer experience feedback
- Engagement rates
- Popular and engaging content
Don’t be afraid to look at your social media profiles with a critical eye. Evaluate your content and how people react to your posts to see what resonates with your audience.
Compare With Competitors
Are competing brands outperforming you? If so, do you know why?
Before you can effectively reposition your brand, you’ll need to evaluate your competitors and their marketing activities. It’s a critical part of the brand audit process, so take the time to study your competition.
Consider the following:
- Are they engaging in co-branding partnerships?
- Which influencers are they working with?
- What type of content are they sharing?
- Is their brand performing well?
- Are they authentic and transparent with their audience?
- Which keywords are they using?
- What is their brand message?
Various tools can help you get the required information such as Ahrefs. Below is an example of the ‘Content Gap’ tool that helps Sortlist analyse what keywords our competitors are ranking for and that we aren’t.
However, you can also include questions about your competitors in the survey mentioned in step two.
If you’re doing an internal brand audit, it’s vital to include staff and stakeholders in the process. Encourage them to participate in the survey, and request criticism and critique. The goal should be to turn your employees into brand ambassadors rather than individuals who just come to the office for a check.
Ask your staff how they feel about the brand, its values, and its personality. You should ask about their overall experience at the company. Once you have your new ambassadors’ support, it’ll be a lot easier to spread your message to a broader audience.
Doing a brand audit means nothing if you don’t act on the data and insights you’ve gathered. Once you’ve completed the process, it’s time to review the brand audit results to evaluate the information and determine where you can make improvements.
Take the necessary actions to reach the goals you outlined, whether that’s increasing brand awareness, improving customer perception, or generating higher engagement rates.
Keep in mind that you also need to monitor your brand’s performance continually. You may need to make small adjustments, reassess your goals, or test the changes to see if they’re achieving your desired results.
The Benefits of Conducting a Brand Audit
Conducting a brand audit is one of the best ways to learn more about your audience and customers and to see how the company’s brand strategy measures up to their expectations.
However, that’s just one of many benefits of performing the analysis.
By doing a thorough brand evaluation, you’ll be able to:
- Identify your brand performance via its strengths and weaknesses.
- Review sales data and find new sales and positioning opportunities.
- Identity threats from new and existing competition.
- Align your brand with customer expectations.
- Discover how you compare against the competition.
- Improve your market positioning.
- Create a consistent brand message.
- Redefine your strategy to better suit your audience.
Always remember that your brand is how customers perceive your business. You may offer the best products or services on the market, but poor positioning and messaging will see people consistently choose the competition over your business.
Do You Need to Conduct a Brand Audit?
Because performic a brand audit requires lots of time and effort, you should always ask yourself: does my business really need to perform an audit? There are a few reasons why you might want to conduct a more recent brand assessment and determine its current position in the market:
- A drop in sales and customer loyalty
- Loss of brand identity
- Redirecting business focus
- Lack of a cohesive image and message
- A disconnect between the target audience and the brand
- To determine if there are any existing brand problems
- Reassert your brand values
Not only will you be able to discover any flaws in your brand, but you’ll also be able to get valuable insights that can help improve your position and messaging.
It’s also an excellent idea to conduct an audit, even if the brand is performing well. It’ll help keep it agile and well-matched with the target audience. It’ll also allow businesses to spot any potential problems before they begin to lose customers to the competition.
According to statistics:
- Presenting a unified, consistent brand message can increase revenue by up to 23%.
- 89% of customers remain loyal to those brands that have similar values.
- 59% will buy from brands they trust rather than competition.
- 86% prefer a brand that’s authentic and stays true to their personality.
That’s why it’s essential to understand your target audience, their likes, dislikes, and what they expect to see from your brand.
A brand audit doesn’t determine whether your business is successful. However, it can give you clear insights into how you can improve your brand’s perception and how you engage with audiences.
Involve your staff and your customers to see how you can improve the company’s brand and marketing strategy. Use web and social analytics to glean more information about your audience and what they expect from you or identify any issues.
A brand audit is a complex process, but it can significantly boost your business reach and success. If you would like any extra information and help regarding this topic, don’t hesitate to contact one of our expert branding agencies or closer to you!