Brand analysis or brand auditing is an integral part of running a business. The reality is that growth comes with its challenges. From the outside, it may look like you are doing very well. But, when you take an in-depth look, it gives a different picture.
What was working at the beginning may no longer be applicable today. Some of the steps you are taking to innovate and scale may require adjustment to your processes. You may also start to notice a decline in revenue. But, you can get a handle on the situation if you audit and monitor the business.
Our article goes into an in-depth exploration of brand analysis. In the end, you should know what it is, the steps to take, and how to go about it.
Brand Analysis: What Is It?
Think about a brand analysis like a physical examination. You schedule an appointment with a doctor once every year. It is critical to go, whether you are feeling well or not. The medical check determines your general health.
The examination may bring up issues that you need to take care of immediately. You also get an opportunity to talk about any other things you may be experiencing concerning your health.
The same applies to a brand audit. It is any strategic step you take to examine the ‘health’ of your business. The scope for a brand analysis is broad.
It looks at areas like:
- An internal brand audit covers values, company culture, and mission. Everything you do must reflect the fundamental premises upon which you established the company.
- External brand audits focus on marketing, public relations, visual identifiers, and marketing collateral. It will also apply to administrative items like official letterheads, branded envelopes, and other stationery.
- Customer experience provides insights on sales processes, customer service, and support policies.
- Business performance compared to goals and objectives
- Products, services, and messaging and whether they provide value to the target market.
- Your position as a company in the market.
- Website performance, responsiveness, SEO, and mobile responsiveness.
- Content generation and distribution. Is the content relevant to the target market? Are you using the best platforms? How are audiences interacting or engaging with such?
- How the different departments support each other to achieve stated goals.
- Understand your customers: who are they, what do they like, how can you help.
- Historic, present, and emerging trends that impact the business.
It is important to undertake a SWOT analysis. It looks at four main factors.
- Strengths include competitive pricing, strong customer support, and high-quality products.
- Weaknesses include product flaws, high turnover, and financial constraints.
- Opportunities like new target audiences and market expansion opportunities.
- Threats arising from the competition or stringent market regulations.
Every business has unique needs. These will determine the issues they need to address in the SWOT analysis.
Why You Need To Run a Brand Analysis
From the points above, the importance of brand analysis is clear.
A. It allows you to take a step back and evaluate your business.
Engaging the services of a third-party expert gives you a true representation of the facts. Such people will not have bias or situational blindness to what is happening.
A brand analysis can help uncover areas that you may not have been paying attention to. Take the example of operating a business in the modern world. What may have worked years ago may no longer be applicable. You may, for instance, notice it is hard to see things like printed documentation.
B. It helps you to have concrete data of your achievements and shortcomings.
In this digital age, it’s rare to see printed documents being handed around the office. But in fact, this is an important factor especially during critical meetings with clients, board members, or other important people in your business.
Digital files can be tampered with or edited which may affect your business in many negative ways. When you present an important analytics report during meetings, it’s a good idea to give out hard copies as well. It may not be a good idea to have everything in the online space. You should have hard copies of the files as backup.
It’ll be more professional to present the documents in business report covers. These keep the documents secured ensuring zero damage to the documents. Having the covers custom-made with your company’s logo also adds to the authenticity of the copies you’re giving out.
Customizing such with visual identifiers like logos adds to professionalism. Further, you have options with the type of report covers to use such as data analysis, tax information, contracts, and so much more.
C. It’s essential for setting measurable goals.
It provides a benchmark to measure future strategies. The insights allow you to develop revenue projections, lead generation, and even market share. You get in-depth clarity on what needs updating or realigning.
But, brand audits aren’t just for when things are not working out. Sometimes, the reasons to conduct a brand analysis are positive. It could be due to an upcoming product or service launch.
The business may have outgrown the existing brand strategy. You may be looking to expand to other areas. The company needs to keep up with what its competitors are doing. Brand audits ensure that you stay abreast or ahead of the game.
With that said, there are steps to follow in brand analysis. That is what we will share next.
Steps to Ensure Success in the Brand Analysis
Let’s get into how to conduct a brand analysis using the steps below.
1. Start By Getting the Services of an Expert
As we have hinted above, a third-party audit professional will give the best results when conducting a brand analysis. It can be challenging for a business owner to be objective.
Internal bias and clouded judgment on your part will make it impossible to get the right picture. Experts can also provide fresh ideas and solutions to problems.
If you decide to take on the task, try to be as objective as possible. Approach the business from an outsider’s perspective. Be ready to accept feedback from the different stakeholders for more insights.
2. Develop the Analysis Framework
A framework provides a guide that will determine all the processes in the brand audit. Think about it like a checklist that you will tick off as you go along.
It is critical to have clarity on your brand strategy to come up with a proper framework. What is your value proposition, brand promise/story, positioning statement, and so on? The framework should be specific to the departments you need to audit.
Let’s use the marketing department as an example. Some areas to include are:
- Target market
- Brand voice
- Competitor analysis
- Product portfolio and the unique selling points (USPs)
- Pricing and distribution channels
- Visual identifiers like logos and marketing material. It is important to review things like the application of business logos on different marketing materials. Does the logo look the same on brochures, letterhead, or even packaging materials? Now head over to your online platforms and ensure it looks the same. There should be no difference in terms of color, design, or tone in anything you use. That is why you need a brand guideline for the business.
The HR department audit will focus on areas like:
- Recruiting and onboarding processes
- Training and Development
- Succession and departure procedures
- Performance appraisal and reward systems
- Employee engagement and career planning, to name a few.
3. Get The Relevant Feedback
How can you conduct a customer service audit without knowing what the customers are saying? How would you improve the HR department without feedback from the staff? Can you know whether your message has an impact without talking to the target audience?
Obtaining feedback is an unavoidable step when conducting a brand audit. It helps to have a healthy combination of qualitative and quantitative data. Get ready to do some research and surveys to get the necessary information.
Use tools like online surveys, questionnaires, and even forum group discussions to collect insights. Email, telephone surveys, or a combination of both can also work.
Reading customer reviews and comments from your website and social media platforms is critical.
Be strategic about the type of questions you ask. The responses should allow you to take specific action to address the issues.
Let us take the example of asking something like, “are you happy with our customer service?” The response could be a one-word yes or no, and that is it. Look for more clarity by digging a little deeper. “What don’t you like about our customer service?”
Qualitative data can be tricky to analyze. Yet it remains one of the best sources of rich information. The audiences can express themselves and clarify the issues they may be having.
Now, take the survey a step further by talking to people who are not your customers. The right questions to ask would be things like:
- Have you ever heard of our brand?
- Were you ever our customer? If yes, why did you stop transacting with us?
- What could we do to make our products or services better?
Such surveys provide some excellent data to help improve product or service offerings. They can also show you what your competitors are doing. You want to know everything there is to know about them. Such information includes social media presence, customer service, and marketing tactics.
Do not forget to talk to your employees as well. After all, they have a critical role to play in the success of the brand. But, how can they be effective brand ambassadors if they do not buy into your values and missions? Some questions to ask could include:
- What do you think about our brand?
- Test their knowledge of the brand vision, mission, and values. Some employees cannot even recite them. This should not come as a surprise. Research indicates that up to 61% of employees do not know their company mission statement. 60% do not have an idea of the Vision. 57% may know them, but they do not believe or buy into the promise. To them, those are just management statements that provide zero motivation.
- What suggestions do they have to improve the brand?
4. Take Advantage of Web Analytics
Web Analytics will give e-commerce platforms a lot of insights. Let’s take the example of auditing the performance of your website. Some critical metrics will let you know if it has an impact or not. You will want to know things like:
- How many people visit the website every single day?
- Where is the traffic to your site from? Is it from a geographical area that your business operates? If yes, you are doing something right. What good are high amounts of traffic if your target audiences are not in that particular location?
- How long do people stay on your website? High bounce rates could indicate a problem. Search engines like Google will take note of such and penalize you with low rankings.
- Which pages or content do audiences interact with the most? This information provides an opportunity to improve upon what is generating traction. You can track and do away with what is not receiving any attention.
- How many of the website visitors convert into loyal customers.
The above analysis doesn’t just apply to businesses with e-commerce platforms. Almost every company nowadays has a digital presence in the form of a website. Many will also have social media accounts.
It helps to know how much traffic the online platforms generate. Having such information provides a benchmark against which to measure your brand visibility strategies.
You have so many tools at your disposal to collect the right analytics, including Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, and User Testing. A simple web search query will lead you in the right direction to obtain tools for your brand audit of online spaces.
5. Wear The Customer’s Shoes To Understand Their Journey
Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. It helps to see what kind of experience they have when interacting with your brand or products. Have you, for example, ever taken the time to check the usability of your website?
Are you up-to-date with testing to catch any errors? Have you, as the entrepreneur, tried to use the Checkout? Your website audit checklist should have items like security, performance, and ease of navigation.
Start the process by mapping the customer journey. What makes them buy a particular product or service? Why would they prefer to talk to you instead of going to the competitor? How can you retain them as they move along the sales funnel?
Approach the process from the customer’s perspective. How a mother shops varies from how a young single adult does. The situation could apply even if they are buying the same product. Say they are both shopping for a car.
The concern for the mother could be the price, functionality, and safety features. The young adult could be looking at status or even current trends. See how each person’s characteristics come into play throughout the customer journey. The insights will help with proper message targeting.
6. Carry Out The Analysis
Collecting the information is perhaps one of the most challenging parts of brand analysis. But now comes the next critical step. You can only get the relevant insights once you review and analyze all the data. It is the only way you will discover areas that need improvement. You can then devise a plan of action for the future. You aim to:
- Highlight any issues that have surfaced
- Develop strategies to address each one of them
- Determine what results you expect after implementing the strategies
- Establish timelines to complete the improvements.
Let us take the example of your website experiencing a high bounce rate. The plan of action would be to determine what could be causing it. That means you will need to run usability, functionality, and performance tests.
The result would be to keep people longer on your website. The expected timeline would ideally be between one to two days. All these go back to the point of having actionable insights to work with.
Prioritize both short and long-term wins. If customers feel that the checkout process is too long, shorten it immediately. Bigger projects like redesigning marketing material or collateral may take some more time. Give yourself enough time to complete such changes.
It is vital to continue monitoring all the activities you do. Only then can you know what is working and what needs improving. The business landscape is also ever-evolving. Keep up with emerging trends to remain successful.
Carrying out a brand audit is an evolving task. The processes are cyclical in nature. By the time you complete the audit, it is time to go back to the beginning.
Is it a challenging process? The answer is yes. But, you cannot afford to ignore it. Doing so will result in the death of your business.
We have looked at brand analysis in detail above. Your business will benefit from the insights you get from the exercise. By peeling back the layers, you get actionable points that can help improve your processes.
Consider hiring experts to do the audit for you. They have the advantage of objectivity. Any insights or reports they generate will be free of bias.
About the Guest Author: Daniel Martin
Dan has hands-on experience in digital marketing since 2007. He has been building teams and coaching others to foster innovation and solve real-time problems. Dan also enjoys photography and traveling.