Mention the word “audit” to a business owner and you’ll probably get an anxious look. But not all audits are of the tax, financial statement or retirement plan variety. You can audit many areas of your company to help you better manage those functions. Take your brand, for example.
Your business brand is more than just a logo. It’s a distinctive combination of identifiers that represents who you are, what you do and how you operate. As such, a brand can be audited to help you improve your marketing strategies.
There are many ways to conduct a brand audit. The specific steps will depend on factors such as your industry, the size of your company and the popularity of your brand. But most audits have certain things in common.
For starters, they generally rely on information you probably already have on hand or could easily generate. This includes:
Sales data. There are so many ways to track sales; it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the numbers. Nonetheless, a function of your brand audit should be to identify sales-related key performance indicators and trends that relate to branding. Essentially, if sales have slumped, is your brand partly to blame? And if so, why?
Website analytics. Determine whether site traffic is trending upward or downward. Investigate how much time visitors spend on your site and on which pages. Where are they coming from? A strong brand will draw consistent visitors who tend to stick around. A weaker one will often attract accidental visitors who leave quickly.
Social media interactions. The impact of social media on marketing and branding has been enormous. Of course, it can be tough to keep content fresh. But each social media account should provide a wealth of interaction data. Track and analyze this info, if you aren’t already. You can use it to, among other things, assess the strength of your brand.
Most brand audits also involve gathering the thoughts and opinions of two major constituencies: customers and employees.
Customers, of course, represent the richest source of insight into brand strength. You could design a survey that posits various questions to customers and prospects about your brand. The data you receive will play a key role in your brand audit. Naturally, customer surveys are tricky. You’ve got to keep it short, clear and easy to complete. Most are now conducted online.
Employees can also tell you things about your brand that you might not know or haven’t thought about. Your sales staff, for instance, could be getting feedback — positive or negative — from customers and prospects. So, an employee survey focused on brand-related issues can be a useful part of an audit.
Two ways to go
With enough research and training, some companies’ marketing departments can devise an in-house brand audit process, execute it and present their recommended actions to leadership. However, it might be quicker and more cost-efficient to engage a marketing consultant to do the audit — if dollars are available, the price is right and you genuinely intend to act on what you learn. Let us help you weigh the costs, risks and advantages of a brand audit.