When was the last time you took a good hard look at your brand and conducted a brand audit? In your efforts to increase market share and grow profits, have you remained invested in the health of your brand? There has never been a time in our history that your ‘brand’, specifically who you are and what you promise, has mattered more. In 2017, customers are seeking brands that are true to themselves and deliver on their promise and/or their purpose. When brands begin to lose their way, or slack off, today’s consumers simply move on. Maintaining a ‘healthy’ brand is critical for success today.

When should you consider a brand audit?
It’s hard to determine exactly when your brand begins to become less relevant. Maybe there’s a slight decline in employee retention and/or employee engagement. Possibly a little slip in sales and customer feedback is not as positive as it once was. Brand erosion happens over time. Frequently it goes unnoticed until a company feels the pain in many ways that build up that begin to impact the quality of the business.

Your brand is your greatest asset. A strong brand is what inspires and empowers employees. It’s a promise that helps people and organizations understand who you are and why you matter to them. It is the foundation for which a strong company is built. Most brands start with a great promise and a founding passion and this is what drives the company’s business strategy. As the company grows and priorities shift, the market takes a turn or leadership changes, the very essence of your brand may become less clear.

whats-in-a-brandAnd when there is a lack of clarity in a brand, it is often noticeable in less engaged employees, higher turnover and/ or customers who no longer see what is so ‘special’ about you. And when the very essence of who you are begins to slightly tarnish, it is time to conduct a brand audit.

The key question people ask is how frequently should my company conduct a brand audit? To assure your brand is on track and performing at its peak, we recommend that companies conduct a brand audit every year. As markets shifts, audiences shift, technology and environmental factors shift, your brand needs to be nimble to remain relevant.

What is a brand audit?
A brand audit is like a health check-up. A brand audit is a thorough review of your brand’s current position in the market, and how well it performs against the competition and how effective it is in the current market. The brand audit process allows you to take a step back, look at the overall picture, helping you to understand the strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities of the brand today and then determine what parts of your brand are effective and what areas need to be adjusted to support a longer-term strategy.

What’s included in a brand audit?
A brand audit is broken down into three key components; perception, reality, and future state.

  • Perception – The first phase of a brand audit is understanding the current perception of your brand. How you think you are perceived in the market can be misaligned with how you are truly perceived. During this phase of a brand audit, feedback is sought from your current stakeholders, employees, partners, customers, prospects and marketplace influencers.
  • Reality – This phase of the brand audit is broken down into two components, your current brand state and the current competitive landscape. For the current brand state, all marketing material and brand messaging is analyzed. This includes, the brand positioning, collateral, content, website, social, events, thought leadership, analytics and customer feedback to name a few areas that are assessed.The second part of the reality phase is to fully access the competitive landscape to determine how your brand stands up relative to the competition. Are your competitors who you think they are? Are there competitive threats on the horizon? Does your messaging clearly differentiate you from the competition to allow you to assume or remain as the market leader?
  • Future state – This is the final stage of a brand audit. During this phase, all the information gleaned is assessed, measured, quantified and qualified. Brand messaging recommendations are mapped to the long-term business strategy, future industry state, market opportunities and lastly and most importantly, the brand is measured against its authenticity to the founding passion of the organization.

Do I need to hire a company to do a brand audit?
When a brand wants to take and objective look at itself and assure it is properly positioned for the next stage of growth and development, it is best to hire a firm that specializes in brand strategy. Just like any professional service, the quality and experience of the team that is conducting the brand audit matters. A smart brand strategy team will be able to uncover insights others won’t see. They will unearth the special truths of your brand and help you realize your vision. With this, you can move forward with confidence knowing that you are well positioned for growth and leadership in the marketplace and this comes from a job well done.

An unabashed plug for KHJ.
Here at KHJ, we are passionate brand strategists. We love nothing more than to bear witness to the success of companies that choose to conduct a brand audit and then further it with a brand refresh. Our proprietary, See and Realize™ Pathway has been the catalyst for many organizations to truly realize what’s possible. Why wait until you begin to see the cracks in your brand. Give me a call and let’s chat about your brand’s health.