Using Audits to Enhance Your Brand’s Performance
Once you have outlined a well-articulated brand strategy, you know that you need to manage your brand against the strategy and implement accordingly to achieve your brand vision. The challenge, however, is executing against that strategy consistently over time. And things become more complex if your brand is wide-reaching involving employees, customers and suppliers worldwide. This is where audits can be extremely helpful.
Brand audits help to answer many key questions:
- Do you know what kind of brand experience you’re really delivering?
- How does your brand experience compare with that of the competition?
- Are you executing well against your brand strategy, or are there gaps?
- What types of opportunities exist in your industry for differentiation that you aren’t already capitalizing on?
Put simply, conducting brand audits on a regular basis keeps you informed so you can make good decisions. The frequency with which you conduct an audit depends on your industry – the more it changes, the more often the need to evaluate.
The Benefits of an Audit
Audits range in scope from high-level glimpses of a certain tactical approach, like packaging, to in-depth global studies of every possible brand touchpoint. They can include customer research as well. Depending on the depth and breadth of the audit, it can help you to see your brand through the eyes and ears of your customer or end user, throughout the world. From our perspective, audits are extremely valuable tools offering:
- A clear view of how your customers and end users experience your brand at each touchpoint. How is your toll-free number answered? Do your promotional materials, marketing collateral, ad campaign and website align to present a consistent brand image?
- A snapshot in time of how your brand experience compares with the competition.Over the years we’ve discovered remarkable things during the course of an audit. For one client it became evident that all competitors were using the same color palette; during another audit we found the messaging for all brands in the category to be identical. For still another client we discovered an untapped opportunity aligned with their unique strengths. It’s worthwhile to look at what’s happening in the marketplace.
- Opportunities to identify areas for differentiation. By conducting an audit, you can often see definite patterns emerging or whether everyone in an industry is doing the same thing. If various brands have carved out unique positions, those become clear, sometimes prompting a shift in your brand strategy.
- Proof on whether gaps exist between strategy and execution. While everyone likes to think they’re doing a great job in executing against their strategy, without stepping back to review everything periodically, it’s easy for implementation efforts to become fragmented. Looking at each touchpoint — sales presentations, training materials, ads, packaging, marketing collateral and trade shows — forces evaluation of performance. If you say you’re at the forefront of innovation, do your communications reflect that position? And, if your brand promises a strong relationship focus, are you communicating that you’re accessible, available and approachable?
Audits are powerful tools to help you enhance your brand’s performance. Done effectively, they’ll help you gain a very clear picture of the competitive landscape and guide you to building an even stronger brand.