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How to perform a effective brand audit step-by-step to growth your business (Templated included )

Brand Audit Step by Step

By Aníbal Solís

If you need a brand audit, you can coordinate with our studio here

What you will learn in this article:

1.Introduction to Audit Development

2.Gather data

3.Observe and learn

4.Research the market

5.Develop a usability test

6.Analyze your brand marketing

7.Scan your competitors

8.Listen and watch your brand language

9.Develop the final report

Introduction to audit development

Most probably if you are reading this is because you have realized that your branding is not achieving its main objectives, or maybe you are planning to improve it in the short term or maybe you have been asked at work to conduct an in-depth research to determine how you can improve the perception, positioning or competitiveness of the company you represent, whatever your case is the important thing is to step forward and learn. In fact, we have been in these scenarios and we know how difficult it is to find clear and concise material about this brand audit process. That’s why we provide you with some clear and simple tips that will help you develop a successful process.

The word audit comes from the Latin verb audire, which means ‘to hear’, which in turn has its origin in the first auditors who exercised their function by judging the truth or falsity of what was submitted to their verification, mainly by observing.So if we analyze it carefully, what the word itself teaches us is that to perform an audit in this case of brand, we must hear the message conveyed by the brand and determine whether it is fulfilling its promise or not, that is, is a brand that effectively conveys the message it wants or there is a falsehood and dissonance in its entire positioning system.

Basically an auditor embodies the role of Sherlock Holmes trying to find out what or who is not fulfilling the role that corresponds to him, and at the end of the day this person must tie up ends and report all the evidence of the case, but it does not end there, the auditor must advise stakeholders to implement specific changes that will make a radical change in the brand.


Before you start: Create a folder called brand audit, inside it you are going to place the following structure.

1.1 Documentation

1.2 Interviews

2.1 Assets

2.2 Empathy Maps

2.3 Reflections

3.1 Qualitative Research

3.1.1 Anonymous Employee Feedback

3.1.2 On-site Incognito Audit

3.1.3 Social media audit

3.1.4 Direct Interviews

3.1.5 Case Studies

3.1.1 Surveys.
 3.1.2 Product tests
3.1.4 Digital Analysis

3.1 Quantitative research.
3.1.1 Surveys.
3.1.2 Product tests
3.1.4 Digital Analysis

 

4.1 Develop a test plan
4.2 Define the environment
4.3 Participant Selection
4.4 Prepare test material

4.5 Conduct the test sessions.
4.6 Analyze data and observations.
4.7 Reports results and recommendations.

5.1 Overview.
5.2 Collection of materials and documents.
5.3 Auditing System
5.4 Analysis of materials
5.5 Identity analysis
5.6 Report of results and recommendations

6.1 Competitor identification
6.2 Gather information and research.
6.3 Determine positioning.
6.4 Identify key messages.
6.5 Examine the visual identity.

6.6 Document the identity
6.7 Examine the naming strategy.

6.8 Examine the brand hierarchy.
6.9 Experience with the competition
6.10 Synthesize the information you have obtained.

 7.1 Fundamentals
7.2 Indentification
7.3 Aspiration
7.4 Navigation
7.5 Information

8.1 Synthesizing all results in one document

8.2 Essential features

1. Research

1.1 Documentation

Well, as a good investigator you are going to start by gathering all the necessary data to develop your brand audit, this is like when Holmes started looking for possible suspects in his cases, what you are forming is that wall that he used to connect the dots and come to accurate conclusions. But let’s be specific, what kind of information will you need?

 

Basic information

 

∅ Mission

∅ Vision

∅ Values

∅ Value proposition

∅ Organization chart

∅ Strategic planning assets

∅ Business plans

∅ Marketing plans

∅ Annual reports

∅ Subsequent marketing research

∅ Company cultural assessments

∅ Surveys

∅ Press releases

∅ Newspaper or magazine appearances

∅ Company history

∅ Domains and trademarks

∅ Social media accounts

1.2 Stakeholder interview:

We must immerse ourselves in the identity and culture of the company we are investigating in order to see what customers are unable to see or simply omit due to the passage of time and habit. The following is a list of the most relevant questions that you can develop in the Stakeholders question.

 

 

What is the focus of your business?


What are the most important goals of your business?


Why did you create this company?


What is your value proposition, what makes you stand out?


What are your products or services?


Who is your target audience?


How do you want to be perceived by your customers?


Who is your competition?


Is there a brand they admire?


What are your marketing channels?


What are the trends in your industry?


How do you see yourself in the near future?


What are your success metrics?


How would you describe the company culture?


What are the biggest obstacles your brand has faced?


If there were no boundaries, what would your company look like?

 

 

 

If these questions seem too long you can download our User Centered Canvas template here.

2. Empathize

2.1 Empathy maps:

Let’s not get too complicated, this map can give us a perspective that we often have inactive, that perspective that allows us to see what the customer feels, sees and says about our map, and if we are an external agent, it will definitely help our client to wake up to the feelings of many of its consumers.

Here is the template to create your own empathy map:

 

Who invented the empathy map?

2.3 Reflections

What we mean by reflecting, basically we mean using the power of questioning, reason, questions and hypotheses to understand what is in front of our eyes, look at all those documents and start reflecting on those things that are already beginning to take shape in your research.We share with you some questions that can help you get the first impressions of what you see.

What is my client’s business?

Are you directing your efforts to the right target?

What motivates your employees?

What makes your customers buy and what motivates them?

What is that point of differentiation that has not yet been exploited?

What are those characteristics that your customer admires about industry-leading brands?

What do competitors have that your customer doesn’t have and need to establish themselves as a leader?

Is there a more efficient way to manage the company’s communication and its various touchpoints?

Are there untapped opportunities?

How can you generate a more accurate measurement system?

What would your customer look like if they did everything flawlessly?

3. Market audit

3.1 Qualitative Research

In plain words, we are talking about a technique that is based on the scientific method of observation that basically collects non-numerical data. This is not like an experiment, rather it has to do with collecting and interpreting. Another interesting definition is found in humans of data which states the following: “By definition, qualitative research is an inquiry into how people interpret a particular social condition around them. It usually involves interviews or conversations, which produce non-numerical data”.

 

Within the documentation we can find the following:

 

3.1.1 Anonymous employee feedback.


You can use a Google Forms survey where you do not ask personal data, but rather ask questions focused on the brand and the company, relevant questions that generate transcendental information for your research.

 

3.1.2 On-site Incognito Audit


Some researchers pose as real customers to gain a deeper understanding of what customers experience when they come into contact with the brand.

 

3.1.3 Social media audit


Take a tour of your client’s social networks, and write down on a sheet of paper everything you see.

Positive and negative aspects in relation to the brand.

 

3.1.4 Direct and in-depth interviews


Based on the target indicated by the client create interviews with people who have used the product or solution, try to understand how they perceive the brand, and collect real feedback.

 

3.1.5 Case studies


Read the company’s case studies to determine if there is any feature that can make the company stand out from its competitors.

3.1 Quantitative research

Quantitative research is a research strategy that focuses on quantifying data collection and analysis. It is formed from a deductive approach with an emphasis on theory testing. Once again we find great value in the contribution made by humans of data with the definition of Quantitative Research: “Quantitative research is the process of collecting numerical data using standardized techniques and then applying statistical methods to obtain information”.

 

3.1.1 Surveys


In this type of survey it is necessary to ask questions with more specific answers and in some way that can be transformed into data that adds value to the research. For example, age, place of residence, language, approximate use of screens, etc.

 

3.1.2 Product testing


Test products with real users or people who fit the target profile you are looking for, and try to obtain statistical data or data that can be transformed into statistics.

 

3.1.4 Digital Analysis


Download Jakob Nielsen’s heuristic analysis guide here, you can apply this technique to test usability and user experience, or you can simply record the experience together with people who can have criteria and record comments, doubts, frustrations or gratifications generated by the current platform.

4. Usability test

4.1 Develop a test plan

Determine which platforms or which brand solutions will be subjected to the usability test.

4.2 Define the environment

Structure very well the place if it is a physical product or service and also the time.

4.3 Participant selection

Based on your client’s Buyer persona, make the selection of candidates.

4.4 Prepare the test material

Generate questions that can help you with the interview and test. You can download one of our templates in pdf here

4.5 Conducts test sessions

Remain impartial, do not try to force questions or suggestions, do not intervene in any way if the user is lost in the experience, make sure that all users fill out all the information.

4.6 Analyzes data and observations

Summarize performance data, scores by group, collect errors or frustrations, and prioritize problems. In other words, these are suggestions, but you can draw your own conclusions from what you have discussed with the participants.

4.7 Report of findings and recommendations

Keep the focus on possible solutions that will help the brand in its rise to success.

5. Marketing audit

According to Madison Majeed of Smart Bug Media a marketing audit “Is a comprehensive and systematic analysis of an organization’s business marketing environment, both internal and external. It covers the organization’s goals, objectives, strategies and principles in order to identify any problems or areas of opportunity and recommend a course of action that best suits the needs of the business.”


Below is a suggested list of tasks to be performed within this marketing audit process:

5.1 Understanding the big picture

☐ Analice la Industria y mercados en donde se operan

☐ Cuales son sus procesos de ventas y distribución

☐ Descubra su Industria y mercados en donde se operan

☐ Verifique cómo se gestiona el proceso de marketing

☐ Verifique cómo se gestiona el proceso de marketing

☐ Verifique cómo se gestiona la tecnología

☐ Analize los posinles desafios a los que se enfrentará la marca 

5.2 Collection of materials and documents

☐Current and archived documents
☐ Brand book or visual identity systems
☐ Marketing and sales documentation
☐ Internal communication, templates, variable documents.
☐ Signage and exterior design.
☐ Packaging system (You can take pictures of all of these). 

5.3 Audit System

☐ Organize all material
☐ Document or
☐ Conduct a thorough review of the same

5.4 Materials analysis

☐ Review all collected documents and take notes

5.5 Identity analysis

☐ Develop a list of best practices and compare it to the branding material collected.

5.6 Report of findings and recommendations

☐ Think of yourself as that doctor who analyzes your patient’s body and then gives a medical diagnosis but in turn provides the cure, you are that doctor, your client’s doctor.

Alina Wheeler in her book Brand Design structures it as follows:

∅ Brand identity

∅ Sales and marketing

∅ Internal communications

∅ Corporate documents

∅ Digital communications

∅ Environmental applications

∅ Retail

 

Tip: Set up a fixed working environment, where you can place on the walls all the material that you are going to use for your work.

6. Competitive audit

6.1 Identifying competitors

The first reliable source is your customer, ask him about his closest rivals, you can also look at possible competitors through search platforms or local directories.

6.2 Gather information and research

There are data that help you understand your competitors even more, magazines, studies, websites, i.e. relevant texts or information that give you a clear picture of the competition.

6.3 Determine the positioning

Analyze all the strengths or weaknesses of your competitors’ brand, how well it is positioned on Google, on social networks, or in the industry.

6.4 Identify key messages

Check the type of message these brands are trying to evoke, examine the mission and vision of the companies, their advertisements, etc.

6.5 Examine the visual identity

Examine the symbols, meanings, brand concepts, colors, typographies, aspects and insights within your advertising.

 

6.6 Document the identity

Make Screenshots of the material you have available of the competitor, photos of the premises, signage, sales techniques, emails, social networks, press releases, i.e. everything that will help you understand your competitor.

6.7 Review naming strategy

Examine the name, the domains, the overall brand architecture.

6.8 Examine the brand hierarchy

Examine the brand structure, brand promise, brand strategy and key points of the brand hierarchy.

6.9 Experiment with competition

Browse their sites and social networks, call them, send emails, check their entire buyer journey and write down what you discover.

6.10 Summarize the information you have obtained

Draw summary but valuable conclusions

Some questions to better understand your competitors:

 

Who are they?
What do their brands represent?
What market or audiences do they serve?
What are their advantages or strengths?
What are their disadvantages or weaknesses?
What are their sales models and systems to convince consumers?
How do they position themselves?
How do they characterize their consumers or customers?
What are their main messages?
How do they use brand identity to promote their success?
What is their appearance and what sensations do they convey?

7. Language audit

7.1 Fundamentals

Identifies the brand concept, tone of voice, message coherence, positioning, type of copywriting and the implementation or absence of ux writing.

7.2 Identification

Analyze legal aspects such as the formal name of the company, slogan, product or service names, name of divisions. Remember to write everything down, you can print all these elements on cards or write them on post-it notes.

7.3 Aspirations

Analyze how they expressed their mission and vision, key brand message, commitments, stories, brand promise.

7.4 Navigation

There is consistency with the tone of voice, and the writing implemented on the page,

7.5 Information

 

What should you take into account?

 

  • Loyalty to brand values.
  • Personalization
  • Structure and ease of navigation
  • Educational value
  • Visual appeal
  • Leveraging marketing opportunities
  • Loyalty support
  • Utility according to assigned function

8. Audit Results

8.1 Synthesize all results in one document

Interviews
-Stakeholder categories
-Key information
consumer information
-Extracts


Brand essence
-Strategy
-Positioning


Marketing research
-Brand recognition
-Survey results
-Information obtained from focus groups
-Perceptual maps
-SWOT Canvas
-Gap analysis
-Market comparison


Marketing audit
-Logos and signatures
-Brand architecture
-Cross marketing channels, media and production lines
-Appearance and feelings the brand is evoking
-Images
-Colors
-Typographies


Language audit
-Voice and tone
-Clarity
-Name
-Slogans
-Main message
-Navigation
Hierarchy
-Description


Competitive Audit

-Positioning
-Logos
-Brand architecture
-Slogans
-Main messages
-Appearance and evoking sensations
-Images
-Color
-Typographies


Intellectual property audit
-Trademarks
-Compliance issues

Process auditing
-Existing guidelines
-Technology
-Collaboration

8.2 What will be the benefits of this process for the branding or marketing professional?

  • Concentrará la atención de los líderes en las diferentes posibilidades
  • Son el inicio de conversación más sólidos
  • Identifican grietas entre el posicionamiento y la expresión
  • Revelan las posibles inconsistencias
  • Ponen de manifiesto la necesidad de una mayor diferenciación
  • Añaden valor y sentido de urgencia al proceso
  • Informan al equipo creativo
  • Recuperan ideas brillantes, imágenes y palabras que podrían haber quedado en el olvido
  • Fomentan el compromiso de hacerlo bien en el futuro

Take Away

  • Keep a fixed place to do your research
  • Set clear, concrete and measurable goals and objectives.
  • Establish a group of people who can provide you with all the documentation.
  • Collect all documentation in an orderly manner, categorizing it appropriately.
  • Print out the relevant data and stick it on the wall, use post-it notes for comments.
  • If you can find software that will improve your process, welcome!
  • Remember! the ultimate goal is a document that explains possible problems in the brand.
  • Generate a well-designed and well-structured document with your customer in mind.
  • This document can be reused, think about continuity of use.

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