Everyone is guilty of it. Every company has got excited, created the brand – sometimes painstakingly taking months to get it right. They create brand guidelines to teams, launch to much fanfare across a range of medium – then stop. Job done. Ticked off the list. Let’s get on with making this company successful.
But part of that success is reviewing that brand – to ensure it’s still as effective as the day it launched. You wouldn’t invest in a property then just ignore it so the same applies to your brand.
What is a brand?
- A brand is NOT just your company logo
- A brand reflects your businesses core values
- A brand is every interaction you have with clients, potential clients and suppliers.
- A brand ultimately, (if it’s doing its job), should create loyalty from your clients and staff thereby making you stand out in competitive markets
Every business wants to be a customer's first choice. Managing a brand is integral to making this happen. Successful brands remain successful - if you and your staff uphold its values in the eyes of your customers. It’s not a case of change for changes sake. But reviewing the brand to keep ahead of the curve and your competitors should lead to clients realising and appreciating that you are continuing to do the best you can by them.
Undertaking a brand audit
A brand audit is a detailed analysis that shows how your brand is currently performing compared to its goals and then to look at the wider industry to check how that performance positions you in the marketplace.
An audit should allow you to:
- Establish the performance of your brand
- Discover your strengths and weaknesses
- Align your strategy more closely customer expectations
- Understand your place in the market compared to the competition
There are some fantastic branding agencies (including us!) out there that can undertake to conduct a brand audit. They may examine internal branding: your positioning, tone of voice, core values, culture, USP and your product offering.
External branding should also be considered; logo and other brand elements, website, advertising, SEO, social media, sponsorships, event displays, news and PR and content marketing.
The fundamental point of branding is that it needs to be consistent. Consumers should be able to recognise your brand instantly.
Create a framework
You should start by looking at your overall strategic objectives.
- Who are your target customers?
- Have you segmented your customers?
- What is the the marketing plan to reach these customers?
- What is happening within your industry?
- Who are your competitors?
- Are you the market leader for your product?
By answering these you will then create a structure around which you can build and manage the brand.
Curled up sandwiches and bad wine in a random hotel or a chance to really understand your customers psyche?
Your brand represents each and every customer experience – good or bad. By including them in any brand review should make them feel valued. Gathering their feedback and indeed that of your suppliers and employees will help you see your brand through fresh eyes. A focus group should highlight any failings (and successes) within elements of your brand – whether it reveals staff training issues or poor data management.
However a knee-jerk reaction to under-performance is often to rebrand entirely. This isn’t the answer. The results of focus groups should be actioned and results then reviewed before any fundamental changes are made.
The stats vary but approx. 80% of consumers research a potential purchase online before committing. By reviewing the traffic to your website you can start to build a picture of your customers’ online behaviour and see where there may be any issues.
If you have undertaken online advertising it’s important that you monitor this to see if your SEO or ads are working. You can also look deeper to see if traffic is coming from the markets you are targeting.
Social media channels
Social media has grown exponentially over the last 5 years. Whether you embrace one social media channel or 6, your customers will want to see a presence. Done well, social media can be a game changer for companies. The data that can be gathered should give you further insight into your customers and what they want. By analysing your social media market you may well uncover influencers who can play a key role in the promotion of your brand.
Who are your competitors?
Whether your industry is in its infancy or saturated, knowing your competitors will help you understand your place in the market.
There are a plethora of tools you can use for competitor analysis. From SEO to content, adverts and traffic there is much you can do to review the positioning of you and your competitors.
Remember to review competitors’ social media – it may well give you further insight into their brand.
Now is the time to take action and monitor results. Your brand audit will have highlighted areas for action.
The results of the audit should be considered and a plan of action created. Make sure you have reasonable timescales and expectations and remember to monitor progress for each area.
The key is to be aware that the industry in which you work will continue to evolve and to realise that you need to evolve with it in order to maintain your competitive edge.