If you work in marketing, communications or public relations, you’ve probably heard the phrase “brand audit” before. We all talk about it, but the term is often grouped in with other industry jargon; many are left scratching their heads as to what it actually means.
A brand audit provides a comprehensive assessment of a brand’s current strengths and weaknesses, while also determining its consumer reputation and broader market position. It takes into consideration internal branding, such as positioning, culture and values, as well as external branding, including website design, social media, logos and advertising. The data gained from these audits is invaluable.
This type of audit is incredibly useful for business growth and campaign planning, but not every brand does it as standard practice. Why? For any number of reasons, including budget concerns, time commitments, or simply not understanding its purpose. In this article, I’m going to clear the metaphorical fog around brand audits, and discuss why they can be instrumental in leading your organisation to success.
There are so many ways for branding and marketing decisions to go wrong, particularly when it comes to audience reception. Many organisations have been negatively impacted as a result of mismanaged branding over the years, and when that consumer-business trust is ‘broken’, the entire brand’s reputation is put at risk. Clear communications are the key to coming out the other side, but how does a brand know if they are on the right path? You guessed it: an audit.
According to KPMG, consumer habits and behaviours have permanently changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing about changes in audience touchpoints, too. These changes have presented new opportunities for brands to tap into – if they can identify them. The perfect approach is just a single brand audit away!
1. Understanding brand awareness among your target audience improves market position
Before I moved back to the agency, I spent two years working with a one-of-a-kind non-profit in Hong Kong. There, I devoted many months to digging through every market and trend report I could get my hands on in the hope of finding the ‘right’ one that would help me better understand my target audience. I eventually came to the realisation that unicorns (in both the metaphorical and business sense) are special because we will never find the same unicorn twice. So, to find and optimise your own unicorn, a brand audit is the way to go.
So, how does it work? Let’s break it down with a fictional scenario:
Doughnut D is famous for its soya ice cream doughnuts. All its competitors are in the traditional cake doughnut business. Doughnut D wants to roll out a new menu to boost business by 150% to meet its monthly target. They have three weeks.
Where should they start? Should they roll out new cake doughnut flavours like their competitors? A new menu will take at least two months to develop, and even if they throw everything in the mixer for a surprise flavour, it would take weeks to promote. Enter, the audit.
Thanks to their yearly brand audit, Doughnut D knows:
• 80% of customers learnt about their most recent promotion from Instagram, and
• Their exclusive soya ice cream recipe sets them apart from competitors.
So, they start a two-week creative campaign on Instagram capitalising on their exclusive product and existing consumer base. Using the hashtag #dunkingsoyadoughnut, Doughnut D sells their same soya ice cream doughnuts, only this time, they make the most of consumer engagement on Instagram by challenging customers to dunk their doughnuts in soya milk before taking a bite. Hashtagged photos are reposted on Doughnut D’s own Instagram feed and stories. IT IS A BLAST!
As you can see, a brand audit helps identify ‘quick wins’ for branding opportunities. Who wouldn’t love to save operational and logistical hassles by making use of existing resources? Even better if you are improving profits and brand engagement.
2. Reviewing the effectiveness of previous campaigns can help you plan for long-term growth
Going back to the hypothetical example… After their big hit with the dunking challenge last quarter, Doughnut D strikes again using the same gimmick, only this time they see limited engagement and a decline in followers. Thankfully, they’re still doing a brand audit, so they have data from this year and last year to analyse and determine the reason for this campaign’s disappointment.
Doughnut D was able to discern that, due to an updated social media algorithm, their customers failed to see any updates or promotion material on their feeds. Doughnut D now knows that Instagram is a less-powerful tool for organic engagement, so they quickly adjust the ad-boosting budget and soon see a steady climb in likes, follows and in-store visits.
A brand audit can help you identify and address challenges as they arise, therefore keeping your brand relevant and ready for long-term growth. A regular brand audit can reveal what works and what doesn’t, and uncover any roadblocks that might stop brands from reaching their full potential.
3. Learn how your target demographic really perceives your brand
Is your brand still in sync with its target demographic? If you cannot answer this question, then it’s time to do… you guessed it, a brand audit! Branding is always important, regardless of company size and scale – companies grow, times change, and consumers change and evolve.
A brand audit is the best way to catch potential issues early before they have a chance to grow into big problems. Brands can and should conduct additional audits whenever they have concerns.
Keen to do one? Contact us today to get started.