­­­­Why A Brand Audit Matters
The word “audit” has such a negative connotation doesn’t it? The first thing most people think of when they hear the word “audit” is the IRS. Negative word association for sure!

But did you know that the definition of the word audit is “an official inspection of…” or “a systematic review or assessment of something.”

The most valuable brands in the world have achieved their position not just through implementing an initially strong branding strategy but also by monitoring changes in customer perceptions over time, and being strategically receptive to those changes.

Letting your brand go without periodic brand audits can often lead to missed messages and opportunities when it comes to reaching and engaging your ideal customers.

What is a Brand Audit?
A brand audit is taking an in-depth analysis of all the touchpoints between your brand and your customers. Effort should be given to measure and quantify the impact of the brand on customers, their decision, and the company’s financial performance.

Because branding is a strategic point of view, not just a set of activities, a brand audit should be utilized as a key tool for creating and maintaining a competitive advantage.

There are several steps involved in auditing your current brand. Evaluating your internal brand arsenal is critical to gain an understanding of the brand from a customer’s perspective. You will also need to understand how your brand fares with your employees, salesforce, suppliers, distributors, and any channel partners. At a minimum, you should uncover from your brand audit the answers to the following questions:

  1. What can be capitalized on or corrected?
  2. What sets our brand apart from our competitors, in the eyes of our customers and team members?
  3. How favorable or unfavorable are perceptions about our brand?
  4. How deeply are views about our brand held? What are the emotional responses?
  5. How do your customers and team members define our S.W.O.T. (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats)?

Getting Started
It is important to get a large enough data sample to really be able to evaluate trends in the feedback. So how do you get the information you need?

Qualitative Research
Qualitative research is primarily exploratory. It is used to gain an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations. It provides deeper insights into the feedback and helps to develop ideas to aid in business growth and development.

Qualitative research is also used to uncover trends in thought and opinions, and dive deeper into any problems or possible solutions.

Qualitative data collection methods vary using unstructured or semi- structured techniques. Some common methods used include focus groups (group discussions), individual interviews (which are preferred), and participation/observations.

It is important to have at least 90% of your questions be the same across all interviews in order to be able to measure trends and to have 10% of your questions custom developed based on the team member’s company role, job description, department, years of service, and specific customer and team member interactions.

Quantitative Research
Quantitative research is used to quantify the information by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics. It is used to quantify attitudes, opinions, behaviors, and other defined variables – and generalize results from a larger sample population. Quantitative research uses measurable data to formulate facts and uncover patterns in research. Quantitative data collection methods are much more structured than qualitative data collection methods.

Quantitative data collection methods include various forms of surveys used to gain statistically significant data to help support the qualitative research.

Your Results
Upon completion of your brand audit, you should have the necessary information to uncover the following:

  • The company’s S.W.O.T
  • Internal and external perspectives on brand, services, knowledge, culture, quality, expectations, and differentiators
  • Areas of communication breakdowns throughout internal processes or between departments/office locations
  • An ideal customer profile
  • Factors that influence customers’ decisions when making a purchase
  • How to reach, engage, and retain your ideal customers

Brand audits need to be a part of your marketing strategy to ensure your company is staying consistent with your position, message, and attitude. A brand audit will help your marketing department gain an in-depth understanding of your team’s and customer’s perspectives of your brand, service, knowledge, culture, quality, expectations, and differentiators. The end result – a better marketing strategy for your company.