Audits are often associated with accounting to evaluate financials. The same concept can be applied to brands to evaluate brand awareness, messages, perception and overall brand equity. By performing a brand audit we can identify opportunities to strengthen the brand, and create initiatives to rebuild the brand.  Writer of The Branding Blog, Martin Jelsema suggests you perform a brand audit when:

  • Contemplating a decision to enter a new market or product category in which you have not as yet established a position
  • Assessing the pros and cons of extending a brand into a new product category or developing a new brand for that category
  • Determining whether to sub-brand or utilize a corporate brand – and to assess the balance between the two
  • Brand market share is slipping or is not meeting realistic expectations because of competitive activity
  • Considering the establishment of a new product category in which your brand will be the first participant.
  • You are not certain of your brand’s position, strength or effectiveness in relation to competitive offerings
  • It’s time to establish a cohesive branding plan, and implement it through the creation of relevant branding elements: name, positioning statement, logo, packaging, graphic standards, associations, events, etc.

A brand audit needs to be objective to truly identify problem areas.  GuideStar suggests hiring a consultant to focus on the following types of brand audit activities (from Brand Strategy Insider):

  • Research:  Does the brand have a clear understanding of current customer need states, attitudes, values, etc alongside the market and competitive landscape?
  • Positioning: Does the brand positioning leverage target consumer research to strategically differentiate the brand (along with benefits and personality) within the market?
  • Identity:  Is the brand’s visual and verbal identity (name, logo, icon, tag line, type style, colors, symbols, messages) consistently applied based on the positioning?
  • Advertising:  Does advertising creatively convey the brand benefits and break through the clutter to effectively reach the target audience?
  • Internal marketing team: Is the marketing team well-rounded with a curret toolset inclusive of skills in leadership, creativity, marketing, and innovation?
  • Strategy: Is the marketing team partnering with executive leadership to create long-term brand vision and impact-focused marketing initiatives?

The output of the brand audit should identify clear action items and help direct your focus to building a short and long-term strategic plan of action. Main areas of focus should be determined by weaknesses identified in the brand audit (i.e. if you needed to completely overhaul the advertising to better refelct your strong positioning). As a marketing leader, the brand audit is an opportunity to re-strategize, re-position, and creatively adjust the brand identityto maximize marketing and brand effectiveness for tomorrow.

Image by Eugene Z from Stock.Xchng