Conduct a brand audit

1. Identify an internal point-person, team, or a third party to lead brand auditing efforts.

Select someone internal or a team member from marketing to run point. Determine whether you should use an agency to work with this person or group, or if the person or group has the capacity to do it effectively themselves.

2. Set the scope of your brand audit and create an audit template by considering the goals and questions you want answered.

Creating a list or mind map can help you determine what you want to accomplish with this brand audit. To create a mind map, put your brand in the middle with clusters of sub-topics and then questions around each sub-topic. Depending on your goals, your brand audit may target specific topics and questions. Topics to consider: Purpose: Mission, values, and messaging. Company culture. Customer experience: For example, customer service policies, and sales process. Target market. Social media presence. Product differentiators. Product strengths and weaknesses. Competitive landscape. Create a brand audit template based on your framework to keep you organized during your brand audit and give you a place to record results throughout.

3. Create a brand summary that identifies your ideal brand mission, values, unique selling propositions, and other relevant beliefs to later compare to audit results.

4. Compare relevant offline marketing materials to your brand summary, and make notes in your brand audit document about each piece’s alignment with it.

Focus on materials that are actively used in marketing efforts and that are relevant to your main brand audit goals. For example, if your goal is to audit the messaging of one specific product, focus on marketing materials for that specific product. If your brand audit is about company culture, spend more time on business cards and company email signatures.

5. Look at analytics for relevant online marketing materials, like your website content and social media accounts, and answer your template questions.

For your website: Note the user experience by pretending to view your site as a customer. Ask yourself about how easy it is to navigate, what the tone of the web copy is, if brand voice is consistent, and whether it is mobile-friendly. Look at your website analytics using Google Analytics. Note your traffic and where it is coming from, page views, bounce rate, and conversation rate. Look at your social media channels, including what you post and user engagement. Use social listening tools like Hootsuite or Mention to see what people are saying about your brand.  Review other online marketing pieces, like email and text messages, display ads, and blog posts, examining them for brand alignment. Use tools like BuzzSumo or Ahrefs for content analytics. Focus on a few pieces of content and only the marketing channels that are most relevant to your brand audit’s goal. For example, look more into your email marketing campaign if your brand audit is interested in your branding in terms of the customer service experience.

6. Conduct staff focus groups and surveys to assess their view of your brand.

Sample questions to ask staff: Are there areas of brand strength or weakness among your workforce? How do you deliver on the brand’s promise? Who do you think your customer is? What do you think customers like and dislike about this brand? What is the brand vision? Does the company’s work culture match its outward persona? Speak with your customer service staff to gain insights into how consumers may perceive your brand. Ask questions about how your customer service team perceives the buyer’s journey, sales experience, and their perception of how customers experience it.

7. Poll, survey, or interview customers to understand their perceptions of your brand.

Choose questions that are most applicable to the goal of your audit. For example, if you’re interested in learning about your customer’s buying experience, ask questions about customer service and how they found your product. Sample questions to ask customers: How would you describe this brand? Would you buy from this brand again? Have you seen ads for this brand before? Where? Would you recommend to a friend? What would you rate this product? Create a customer survey and polling questions based on audit framework and sample questions. Place polls on your website, email surveys to customers, use Facebook group polling tools or add a poll or survey to customer service chats.

8. Compare results to your brand summary and draft recommendations to strengthen your brand based on results recorded in your audit template.

For example, if your website traffic came from an unexpected place and your customer surveys offered surprising insights about your customers, you may suggest rewriting your buyer personas to target a more accurate demographic. If your company’s employees all have completely different answers about your company’s branding, you may suggest updating brand materials or hosting an employee seminar about your company’s story. Include these suggestions with your analysis based on your template answers, and share the entire audit document with key stakeholders.

9. Monitor progress as you make changes and repeat the brand audit annually or when there are significant changes to market landscape, product offerings, or demand.

Record changes so that you can look back on how and why they were made. Use A/B testing and customer feedback through more surveys, polls, and interviews to gauge results.