If you’re reading this, chances are you’re putting together a list of brand audit questions. And your head is starting to spin.
Brand audits tend to fall into one of two groups: easy and superficial, or comprehensive and mind-numbing. The easy ones tend to offer up ersatz thinking – a raft of colourful downloadable forms you fill in, for example. The comprehensive ones rattle off hundreds of questions you need to ask clients, employees, and other stakeholders, like an FBI investigation. So either you end up with a dizzying array of (admittedly) pretty forms and a dearth of insights, or you give your clients an aneurysm by slogging them through a 100 question list.
Personally, I think both approaches to a brand audit are flawed.
- A brand audit can’t be reduced to fun forms. Real thinking and reflection needs to happen – you can’t just tick the boxes.
- That said, truthful insights don’t come from endless list of questions. Has anyone ever asked you more than 10 questions in a row? How did you feel? You wanted it to end, and would say whatever it took to make the interviewer stop.
The six best brand audit questions
Let’s start with a simple brand audit survey question: What do you think of our website?
Answer: It’s OK, I guess.
Tick the box? No. Go onto next question? No.
A good interviewer would follow up with one of the six best questions ever invented:
The point is, virtually every question can be turned into a meaningful discussion that will shed far more light on your brand than an exhaustive list of questions. But it takes a skilled interviewer to know what question to ask, when.
The six best questions may make it impossible to get through the 130 questions on your list. They may not serve up answers that will plot nicely into a prefab chart. But they do something very valuable.
They make you think.
When you think, you pause. You dig deeper. You discover that the inconsistency in your brand has nothing to do with your Facebook language not lining up with your Twitter language, but rather a fundamental shift in your thinking that needs to be resolved.
That’s where the magic of a brand audit happens.
Outside perspective is your best friend
There is a fundamentally flawed presumption at the heart of every DIY brand audit: that DIY works in this situation.
Certainly, you can DIY elements of the audit. For example:
- The consistency of communication across all your channels,
- The consistency of colours and graphics,
- The consistency of your customer experience,
- The consistency between your external message and your internal policies.
However, deeper insights – insights rooted in psychology, rather than tactics – are brought to the surface far more quickly by someone outside your organization. The reason is simple: they aren’t biased by a subjective perspective.
If you truly want to accelerate the process (and why wouldn’t you – a misaligned brand is costing you money), find someone experienced in brand work to conduct the audit. Because they’ve seen many brands in your circumstances before, they can hone in on potential trouble spots far more rapidly.
The final question
At the root of every DIY exercise is the desire to save money. In the case of a brand audit, the savings don’t pay.
Far better to invest a bit up front, accelerate the process, and get actionable results that get to the heart of any brand inconsistency.
And – surprise – a decent brand audit can be free. I offer a free ‘snapshot’ brand audit myself.
In my eyes, offering a free brand audit is a great way to start a productive relationship with someone who recognizes the importance of a strong, consistent, well-positioned brand.
Which leads us to the final question.