Whilst we are all familiar with the terms ‘financial audit’ or ‘tax audit’, there is some confusion and mystery surrounding a brand audit. It is quite a simple concept if you accept that your brand has a value that can and should be managed and increased over time – an asset of your business just like your production facilities, finance and human resources.
The trickier bit is the actual execution of a brand audit.
A typical cycle could be described as this:
It may seem a bit daunting how to start the process. I like the analogy my friend Maria Ana uses when she talks about how to start a brand audit, comparing it to planing a trip.
So here is a quick picture journey describing the first step. Once all this information is collected, a brand consultancy will be able to scope the project costs, tools and timelines and get the ball rolling.
There are many components of the actual audit, which brandingstrategyinsider describes as the following:
- Advertising and promotion materials
- Other brand marketing elements: pricing, packaging, merchandising, distribution, direct marketing, sponsorships, flagship stores, etc.
- Press kit
- Press releases
- Sales collateral materials
- Internal communications
- Business cards, letterheads, etc.
- Intranet site
- Employee training programs
- Employee orientation
- Manager training
- Sales force training
I would also add (this list is a few years old now) the whole subject of social media and how the brand is exposed via social marketing and even phone apps.
EXTERNAL INFORMATION SOURCE REVIEW
- Competitors’ press releases, advertising and promotion
- Industry analyst reports
- Customer comments
- Business partner comments
- Marketing vendor interviews
HUMAN RESOURCE SYSTEMS REVIEW
- Organisation charts
- Department mission/vision statements
- Department objectives
- Common objectives
- Recruiting criteria
- Individual competency dictionary
- Succession planning criteria
- Planning and resource allocation systems/processes
- Business plans
- Marketing plans
- Brand positioning statement
- Brand plans
- Creative (or agency) briefs
- Media plans
MARKETING RESEARCH REVIEW
- Brand positioning research
- Brand asset studies
- Brand equity measurement system (awareness, preference, usage, value, accessibility, relevance, differentiation, vitality, emotional connection, loyalty, associations, personality)
- Brand extension research
- Product/service concept testing
- Logo recall & recognition testing
- Corporate officer interviews
- Marketing employee interviews
- Sales force interviews
- Customer service employee interviews
- Front line customer contact interviews
- General employee interviews
PROPRIETARY BRAND RESEARCH
- Brand asset research
- Brand equity research
- Brand positioning research (qualitative and quantitative)
PHEW, what a list! It is complex and it quickly shows that a brand audit is a process that will take time – but Rome – and those big brands we all know- were not built in a day and not by one single person either.
A brand consultancy will guide you through a program that is tailored specifically to your objectives and will give you the insights to define and deploy a strategy for change.
So why should you do it?
Typically, a brand audit will:
- give an insight into your brand architecture/business structure and portfolio
- help to connect your visual communication efforts with financial returns
- discover and assess your market positioning
- define your brand stakeholders and competition
- improve brand management and marketing
- assist in securing and enhancing the value of your brand
I think that these days the value of increasing brand equity is much more apparent and thankfully so is the need for keeping track of your brand performance as much as you keep track of all other important aspects of your business.