The biggest challenges in conducting a brand audit

A regular brand audit is a good thing. It gauges how consistent, relevant and powerful your message is. A bit like having a yearly physical to catch any health issues before they become problems.

The biggest challenges in conducting a brand audit? You. Or, to put a finer point on it, your perspective.

There’s a reason you ask a doctor to do your physical. Obviously, a doctor is an expert. But beyond that, a doctor is objective. Your GP’s judgement won’t be biased against giving you bad news.

When it comes to brand audits, there’s a real danger of glossing over problems if you self-diagnose. Our brand is our baby. Whether that makes us overprotective, or overly critical is irrelevant. The point is, we’re not objective.

Happily, there are solutions at every step of an audit that can help you get past that challenge.

Assessing message consistency? Try this.

It’s easy enough for you to get samples of all your messaging from the past year or so, and hang it all up on a wall. Make sure you include the following:

marc stoiber brand strategy
  • Pages from your website,
  • Snapshots of your social feed, including tweets and posts,
  • Any printed materials – brochures, manuals, and the like,
  • Screen grabs from your videos, perhaps with typewritten scripts,
  • Any online or offline ads,
  • Representations of your graphics – how you present yourself on your business cards, web banners, vehicles, packaging,
  • Any other materials that are put in front of your internal audience (employees) and customers.

When it comes to evaluating the consistency of the look and message, however, don’t be the one to judge. Instead, find someone who has had little to no exposure to your brand, but still has a sense for business. That is, don’t enlist your 6-year old.

Second, don’t coach them, or explain why your letterhead uses a different logo than your website. Nobody in the real world has the benefit of your explanation when they get your bill in the mail, then go to your website, and see two different representations of your company. All they see is confusion.

Finally, don’t ask them for solutions. Their only job is to spot inconsistencies. We’ll get to solutions in a minute.

Assessing message power? Try this.

To assess your message’s power, you need to know how it stacks up against messages from your competitors. Are your promises more compelling? Do they position you effectively to attract an audience most conducive to buying you over the competition?

The first challenge here is to determine who your competition actually is. I’m a brand expert. If I audit my brand, I’m most likely to narrowcast my competition – I’ll look around for other brand experts.

But that’s not what someone looking for my services does. Instead of thinking they have a brand problem, they probably think they aren’t selling enough stuff, and need someone to fix that. That someone might be:

  • A sales expert,
  • A website expert, or social media expert,
  • A CRM expert,
  • Someone from the local radio station who says they can produce an ad and run it for next to nothing,
  • And so on.

It’s the old anecdote – if you’re running a movie theatre, the competition isn’t just other theatres. It’s TV, books, bottles of wine and cooking, even comfy beds and meditation apps.

So when you’re trying to assess your message’s power by comparing it to competitor messages, you need to ask someone who may be in the market for your services to tell you who they consider your competitors might be.

I can guarantee it will be an illuminating experience. But it will inspire you to look at your positioning from a far more inclusive perspective.

Assessing your customer journey? Try this.

Successful brands don’t employ mystery shoppers because they want to point fingers at underperforming employees (even though it might feel that way). What they’re trying to do is determine where their customer journey underwhelms. Objective outside reports are the only way to see where the journey might be improved.

So get a mystery shopper. In most cases, the only qualifications are that they’re the sort of person who might logically be shopping for a product like yours.

Let them meander through the process of being introduced to your brand, all the way to ringing in at the cash register and experiencing your follow-up. They’ll quickly be able to assess where your process left them feeling underserved, overserved, or just right.

Moving from assessment to action? Try this.

There’s no question that bad news might hurt your feelings. As I mentioned above, your brand is your baby. Nobody wants to hear their baby isn’t beautiful.

When you get your assessments, try to remember they’re a gift, not a threat. The people who have assessed your brand want you to succeed, and they’ve just given you concrete ways to get there.

Want that brand audit? Start here.

I do free snapshot brand audits for qualified brands. I’d be happy to chat with you about your brand, and if my free brand audit is right for you.

Look forward to hearing from you.

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