Last week, we launched our Brand New Year series by diving into the concepts of brand and brand identity. If you missed it, check it out here. This week, we’re taking those principles and applying them to each element of your brand using focused, engaging and effective brand auditing practices.
The Value of a Brand Audit
Conducting brand audits is a necessary and insightful practice to implement in any business model, because it reveals both the strengths and weaknesses of our brands, which in turn allows us to refine and improve our current strategy moving forward. There is no explicit right or wrong time to conduct an audit. I would recommend, however, that if your company has experienced any of the following things recently, it’s probably a good time to start thinking about conducting one:
- A change in leadership
- An expansion of your team
- A change in your target audience
- A change in company name or logo
- A change in product direction or product line
- The addition or subtraction of retail locations
As you start working through your own audit, we encourage you to approach it as if you were a prospective client or customer. This will help you to remove yourself from the internal rationale of your company’s brand, and you’ll begin to see your branding efforts more through the lens of how it’s currently engaging and inviting your target audience to play a part in your mission and vision.
Laying a Foundation
The first step I recommend in conducting your brand audit is to collect all of your marketing materials and lay them out on a table or computer screen. Include elements of your brand identity, social media graphics, marketing collateral, products, website pages, packaging, software programs, swag…everything! Put it all together, and record your observations. Do you notice overall cohesion, or are there inconsistencies? How does the spread as a whole make you feel, and how to do the individual elements make you feel in relation to the whole? Does this layout convey emotion, or does it exist rather apathetically?
Through this exercise, you’ll be able to acquire a more comprehensive and refreshed perspective on your brand, and now we can take this forward into evaluating the finer details of your brand.
Breaking It Down
Once we’ve completed this initial exercise, we can start to breakdown the individual elements and examine the effectiveness of our brand strategy and identity, target audience, and messaging.. Let’s unpack these a bit more.
- Brand Identity: In our visually driven culture, we only have a few seconds of someone’s attention to communicate the essence, vision and personality of our companies. Big task? Absolutely. That’s why we need to evaluate whether the elements of our current brand identity are communicating exactly what we want them to.
- Target Audience: Our goal is to appeal to the audience best suited to purchase our product or service, and in order to do so effectively, we need to be confident in our ability to explain who exactly they are, and be able to make clear connections between the elements of our brand and how they resonate with members of our target audience.
- Messaging: Your brand’s messaging includes both visual and written communication. In your brand audit, be sure to evaluate the messages and themes that you’re communicating to your audience; you want to ensure that your visual and written messages communicate the same themes.
Investing in Growth
I want to emphasize that you are doing a phenomenal service to your company by investing your time and energy into auditing your brand. Remember that every little step you take is a step in the right direction, and we’re excited to see how you continue to grow in your branding efforts. Please feel free to connect with me if you feel it would be best to work alongside a designer who understands the branding process well, and one who is incredibly eager to see you succeed!