Companies seeking to maximize the potential of their brand have to understand the ins and outs and the importance of conducting a brand audit. A brand audit will view and analyze all of the ways and places your brand connects with your customers. This audit really paints the whole picture of a company’s brand and how that brand is performing with your specific target audience at any given point in time. In conducting a brand audit there are many pieces that are measured and quantified in order to fully understand the brand’s impact on the market. From this audit, there are several key questions that that will be answered.
First, you have to ask, “what can be adjusted to make the brand better?” Too often a specific effort is not made to adjust a brand message to reach an evolving audience base. The logo is out of date, the company is not reflecting its mission statement, there is a gap between what the company thinks of its brand and what its customers think of it, there are all sorts of ways that being out of date and not making adjustments can cause a disconnect between your company and your ideal customer. So, rather than fall behind your competition, conducting a brand audit allows your company a glimpse of what you can do to improve your brand image and increase your competitive edge.
Secondly as a company you have to ask, “what is your competitive advantage as a company and how does it reflect on your brand image?” Being able to do something for your customers that your competition can’t or isn’t is vital to your brand, and it is important to understand how to capitalize on this advantage. Making your competitive advantage visible and well-known to your customers builds a positive brand image that will benefit your company immensely. This competitive advantage reflection then leads you to the next question you need to ask which is, “how do people perceive our brand?”
Perception is extremely important when it comes to your brand, because let’s face it – the brand is in the eye of the beholder. Consumer decision making and consumer perception have a large effect on the success of a company’s bottom line. Your bottom line as a company can take a tremendous hit if your brand is not generating a positive perception in the eyes of your target consumers.
Based on consumer perception, the next question that you as a company need to ask yourself is, “how deeply held are these views and what are the consumers’ emotional responses to these viewpoints?” It is not easy to get into the mind of your target consumer, but a brand audit is used to better understand this specific area as well. Your customers’ thoughts on your brand have an impact on your brand image as a whole because, after all, it is this group of people that you are trying to build a lasting relationship with and have them become brand advocates of your company.
Lastly, you as a company must ask yourself a question that really ties all of the other questions together, “How do our customers and our team members define our SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities & Threats) in terms of the market?” This is a vital question because it focuses on the overall big picture of the brand image. On the positive side, looking at strengths and opportunities will provide an understanding of the competitive advantage that was discussed earlier. It will also show the direction that you as a company can grow in your brand in order to achieve greater success. Then on the negative side having a better understanding of your weaknesses and threats will give you a view of where your competitors can take advantage of your brand and control more of your market. Either side, a brand audit provides the full view of your brand image in the market and how things can be improved to make your company more competitive.
Conducting a Brand Audit is an effective way of ensuring that your brand grows and truly engages your ideal customer which will result in more of a competitive advantage in the market. With the questions above we gain a better understanding of what needs to be adjusted to make a brand better. So forget any preconceived notions that you may have about auditing because this is an extremely important process that can grow and benefit your brand immensely if it is done correctly.
Tammy is founder and president of Element212. Her passion lies in conducting research for clients and creating marketing plans that help bridge the gap between the company and the customer.