What is a Brand Audit?
A brand audit is basically a checkup that evaluates your brand’s position in the marketplace, its strengths and weaknesses, and how to improve it overall. An internal AND external brand audit is extremely important for success, especially if you’re looking to scale your business, hire a new team member, break into a different market/industry, or reach a different income level.
We’ll cover both internal and external features of a brand audit, because what happens behind the screen is just as important as what the online community is seeing on your website, social media, in your emails, etc,. This is especially true if you have anyone else on your team or working within business – if you aren’t clear on what your brand is all about, how can you expect your team members and audience to understand?
Which leads me to, why should you conduct a brand audit in the first place?
Inconsistencies within your brand identity can cause MAJOR confusion within your audience. A brand audit helps you pinpoint where those inconsistencies are happening so you can make the necessary changes, and overall just reach a more targeted audience.
The absolute BEST outcome of a brand audit is that it helps you understand your current situation, so that you know what the next right step is for you and your brand. Enter in: it’s basically a roadmap of how to get from Point A to Point B (our Problem A to Solution B!)
When is the right time for a brand audit?
Scheduling out regular audits of your brand an amazing best-practice. I usually schedule a brand audit in my slow season (so sometime between November-January) and every single time I tweak something that I find inside of my brand audit, an influx of clients come to me. Seriously, it’s like a weird voodoo magic except its just sales psychology and refinement.
However, once a year may not be enough, especially if you’re newer to your industry. If you’ve been in business for a few years and feel confident about how you’re showing up, once a year may suffice. However, going through your brand once a quarter and doing a quick check could be the best option for you. Whatever feels like the most natural fit, I think you should go for.
In certain circumstances, though, a brand audit is needed because things just aren’t working for your business, but you aren’t sure what/why/how.
Since the purpose of an audit is to gauge the effectiveness of your brand, an effective audit usually uncovers hidden hiccups that are preventing you from moving forward and getting to your desired next level.
With that in mind, if you’re in a season where things are just feeling off, here are a few signs where an audit might be your next right step:
- Lead generation isn’t as effective
- Sales are stagnant
- Engagement is decreasing and/or staying the same
- You’re seeing brand inconsistencies either within your team or externally-facing
Auditing your business’ brand can be as quick or detailed as you’d like it to be, so it’s helpful to set expectations up front. Is this a FULL brand audit where you look at every single brand touch point or are you only focusing on digital or print elements? Once you decide that, it’s time to move on to the core four steps I use when doing a brand audit.
Here are the four steps I use when conducting an audit.
- The Foundational Audit – The first step (and I’ll argue most important) in auditing your brand is to gain COMPLETE clarity on how you want your brand to be communicated. Said another way, you need to have a brand strategy + stick to it. We go through an in-depth strategy process with our Brand + Logo Design clients before we even start designing. It uncovers their mission, vision, values, competitive analysis, positioning, and MESSAGING. Now, in the scenario where you’re creating your own brand strategy for the first time, remember that it doesn’t have to be a super detailed PDF with all of the things I outlined above. In fact, a great starting point for your brand’s communication plan includes just four components – who, what, why, and how.
2. The Internal Audit – the purpose of an internal audit is to confirm that your brand messaging, goals, mission, vision, and entire brand strategy align. In order to effectively communicate your brand externally to your audience, you have to be clear on your understanding of it behind the scenes.
Below is a basic outline of some internal brand documents we like to see from our clients. Your job is to determine (1) if you have that document prepared, and (2) if it’s up to date, relevant and/or useful.
- Brand strategy guidelines
- Brand messaging guidelines
- Brand dictionary
- Visual brand guidelines
- Visual brand style guide
3. Conduct an External Audit – are the internal processes aligning with what your customers are experiencing on the outside? Run through all of your brand touchpoints really pick it apart from every angle.
What are all of the brand touchpoints that someone may have with your business? (ex:.website, Facebook, email, freebies, webinars, YouTube, podcast, flyers, Instagram, brochures, Tiktok, Pinterest, etc.)
Each touchpoint provides some sort of experience, and the goal of the external portion of this audit is to understand where your experience is meeting, exceeding, or lowering expectations.
4. MAKE A PLAN – so you now have different symptoms of what may be the cause
Remember that this isn’t something that needs to be tackled all in one sitting. Make a list, slowly work your way down it, and don’t rush through it. The goal is to take small steps every day towards creating a consistent and cohesive brand that you’re excited (and confident!) to share.
Happy branding auditing!
If you’re looking for more in-depth detail on how to conduct a brand audit, grab my free resource “4 Ways to Conduct a Brand Audit” – it’ll give you tangible tips and questions to ask yourself if you’re in a slower period of your business.