Imagine the following scenario: a company that was founded ten years ago to offer innovative, dynamic financial solutions to its clients finds itself working harder to secure new clients. Their web traffic has slowed and there are fewer comments on their social media posts. Revenue has stalled several quarters in a row. Increasingly, they’re hearing from their community “Oh, I didn’t know you offered that!” and explaining more often their services and benefits.
Sound familiar? If so, you’re experiencing warning signs that it might be time to rebrand your company. Various factors – new services are launched, new markets are explored, or simply the audience has grown bored – can cause a company’s brand to change over time. Whatever the reason, if the brand isn’t nurtured, a disconnect will happen and business will suffer.
If you suspect your brand may need a tune-up, the best way to know for sure is to conduct a comprehensive brand audit. This will help you assess what’s working well, and where changes need to be made.
Conduct Your Internal Brand Audit First
When you begin a brand audit, start with an internal assessment. It’s critical to understand what you believe shapes the many tangible yet subtle dimensions that make up your brand. Components for your internal audit should include:
- Full Brand Assessment with key company stakeholders. Identify existing and desired perceptions, values and goals the company holds about your brand.
- One-on-one interviews with employees. Your employees are major touch points for your brand. They will have essential insights about whether they believe the company is “living” the brand and if its resonating with your customers.
- Audit your company’s branded presence. From your online presence (websites, social media channels, reviews, etc.) to previous marketing collateral and advertisements, evaluate if your brand is communicating what you want it to.
- Assess your new leads and sales growth. Look at the pace of new sales, available data for why customers chose to work with you, and other factors to determine if your target audience wants what you’re selling.
- Optional: Conduct a survey of current and former clients to elicit feedback from those who have directly benefits from your offerings. This can be done electronically or via phone. The time this can take is considerable but the responses might be invaluable to moving forward.
Conduct a Brand Perceptions Audit Next
Once you’ve gotten a solid handle on how you believe your brand is working internally, look externally to determine how it’s being perceived. You’ll want to consider your brand’s level of recall, audience perceptions, the competitive landscape, and your true differentiators using the following steps:
- What does the competitive landscape look like? A top-line audit will allow you to evaluate their online presence, key offerings, and other communications they put forth.
- What else influences your target audience’s decisions? Look at cultural and consumer trends that impact your demographic to determine what else might influence their decision to buy from you.
- Conduct focus groups or surveys. Both of these have their pros and cons, so determine what works best for your goals and budget. Focus groups yield qualitative results but incur more significant costs from facility rentals, hiring a professional moderator, compensating participants, and more. Surveys yield quantitative results by providing a much wider response rate but, since they are most often conducted online, can cost significantly less. You’ll need to take into account costs associated with purchasing the recipient lists and time to comb through/analyze the responses.
Finally, Compile and Review All of the Data
With your assessments, data and insights are compiled, you need to create a scorecard for your brand. It’s critically important that a company be honest with itself about where the brand fits into the competitive landscape and if it’s being perceived.
Change over time doesn’t need to impact a company’s brand negatively. Audiences and markets are always moving. Conducting a thorough brand audit periodically will ensure your brand truly represents the company, resonates with the target audience, and helps your business stay successful.