Brand Audit: How to Carry Out a Brand Audit

Category

Branding

Read Time

14 min

Published

14 June, 2021

Carrying out a brand audit is key before your company engages in any sort of rebranding project.

When you’re building a new website, you need to understand exactly how you’re currently performing.

The same applies for a brand audit.

The Rebranding Brief Template

The Rebranding Brief Template is a free template that will help you get the brief for your rebranding project right. ...

It’s especially important to know what’s working and what’s not, before making rash and sometimes costly decisions.

Here’s the deal:

It’s important that you and your team understand where your brand currently stands, before you rip the whole thing up and start again.

A lot of companies seem happy to gloss over this fundamental step and end up wasting a great deal of time and money.

In this post we’re going to outline how you can carry out a brand audit to ensure the decisions you make are meaningful and strategic.

But first things first, let’s find out what a brand audit is.

What Is a Brand Audit?

A brand audit is a process that helps you to understand the purpose behind your brand, where it stands currently and where you want to take it in the future.

An audit makes you think about your company on a deeper level – in a way you perhaps hadn’t before.

It’s helpful for companies to run a brand audit, as it helps them understand exactly where they are, compared to where they set out to be.

Sure, having dreams and ambitions is all well and good, but you need to have a plan before you can get there.

This is helpful when engaging a creative agency as it allows them to dig into the brand and develop a deep understanding of your business from the outset.

It offers both parties a chance to look at the brand they’re discussing objectively, and removes a lot of the guesswork.

What Is the Purpose of Conducting a Brand Audit?

A brand audit it important as it checks the ‘health’ of your brand.

It allows you to take stock of where your brand is currently at so you can identify ways to improve moving forward. A lot can change in a business, and certain documents or guidelines can be overlooked.

It’s easy to loose sight of what still makes sense for your brand, as you can be so focussed on growth that you forget to look back.

You forget to evaluate what items you already have and whether or not they’re still working for your brand.

Aside from these reasons, conducting a brand audit can also help you:

  • Understand your brand positioning and develop strategies to improve/ strengthen this
  • Analyse your social media presence and identify the best platforms for audience engagement
  • Understand customer expectations and align your product or service to meet them effectively
  • Assess the overall health and vitality of your brand
  • Examine the sentiment and perception your brand generates among its target audience
  • Identify gaps and inconsistencies between your brand’s messaging and market perception
  • Recognise growth opportunities and areas for improvement within your brand strategy

Nike shoe on a red background

The Power of Branding in a Brand Audit

Branding is a powerful marketing tool, and most people don’t realise it.

A strong brand builds awareness, creates brand loyalty, inspires employees, and creates a “buy-in culture.”

People buy iPhones, because they’re made by Apple.

People wear trainers just because they have the Nike logo on the side.

And the golden arches of McDonalds rarely fail to make tired motorway drivers hungry.

All of these brands have effective logos, and entice people to buy into them time and time again.

If you want your business to harness the power of branding, it’s important you don’t skip the brand audit.

It will reveal valuable insights about your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, ensuring your branding strategy is on point and set up for long-term success.

How To Carry Out Your Brand Audit

Depending on the size of your company, performing a brand audit can be tricky.

For example, a large corporation will have a lot more brand collateral than a start up founder (consider things like letter heads, stationary, envelopes, merchandise, the list goes on!).

That said, if you engage with a brand or design agency to help you, the whole process can be pretty painless.

The first thing to do is collect together all of your brand documentation.

This is not every piece of paperwork that’s ever been produced by your company. This is documentation, guidelines, and items related to your brand and it’s identity.

Here’s a quick brand audit checklist to help you to pull together the relevant files for your Brand Audit, but as a side note, if you have a Brand Guidelines document, 90% of the following list should be covered in there.

We’re also providing a brand audit example below, helping you to analyse each of these documents to understand if they still make sense for for your business.

Internal Documents

  • Brand Values
  • USP
  • Brand Story
  • Tone of Voice
  • Culture
  • Product/Service Positioning

Brand Identity

  • Logos and other brand elements
  • Printed collateral, stationery, brochures, trade show materials etc
  • Advertising
  • Examples of how your brand has been used or displayed in the real world

Online Identity

  • Website
  • Social media handles and relevant design work
  • SEO
  • Content Marketing, blog posts, white papers, content upgrades, case studies etc

Other

  • News/PR, mentions in the media and other online sources
  • Testimonials, kind words from customers etc
  • Videos, “Company Overview” videos, content marketing videos etc
  • An overview of your companies systems and infrastructure

Making sure you’ve ticked off each point on your branding checklist enables you to get your Brand Audit right.

You need to be confident you’ve covered all bases, and left no stone unturned when it comes to branding.

Brand Audit Example

For this example, we’re going to pretend we’re auditing a mid-sized tech company offering project management software as they’re experiencing brand inconsistency and customer confusion.

As a result, a brand audit was necessary to evaluate and realign their positioning.

Step 1: Determine Brand Audit Goals

  • Assess brand consistency across different channels and platforms.
  • Evaluate customer perception and overall customer satisfaction.
  • Identify any gaps/ weaknesses in brand messaging and brand differentiation.

Step 2: Review Brand Materials

Internal Documents

  • Brand Values – Compare documented brand values against the company’s mission and culture. Conduct employee surveys to assess understanding and alignment with values.
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – Evaluate how clearly the USP differentiates the brand in the market. Analyse marketing and sales materials for consistent USP messaging.
  • Brand Story – Check the consistency of the brand story across all channels. Review website, advertising, and sales pitches for cohesive brand storytelling.
  • Tone of Voice – Confirm that the tone is consistent and aligns with brand values. Compare all marketing copy across social media posts and customer service responses.
  • Culture – Assess the alignment of company culture with brand values. Carry out employee interviews to get a feel of their understanding of the brand.
  • Product/Service Positioning – Check if positioning resonates with the target audience. Review customer feedback and competitor positioning.

Brand Identity

  • Logos and Brand Elements – Ensure consistent use of logos and visual identity. Audit digital and print materials for compliance with brand guidelines.
  • Printed Collateral – Review brochures, stationery, and exhibition materials for brand consistency. Compare printed materials with brand standards.
  • Advertising – Analyse advertising campaigns for clear messaging and consistency. Review recent advertss and compare them with brand guidelines.
  • Real-World Brand Usage – Check how the brand is perceived in real-world scenarios. Collect photos and feedback from events and physical locations.

Online Identity

  • Website – Evaluate website design and messaging alignment. Analyse user journey and content consistency.
  • Social Media – Check for consistency across social media platforms. Review design work and the tone of social media posts.
  • SEO – Analyse the SEO strategy for alignment with brand messaging. Audit content and keywords.
  • Content Marketing – Ensure tone and messaging consistency in blog posts, white papers, etc. Review all content marketing materials.

Other

  • News/PR – Analyse media mentions for consistent brand perception. Carry out sentiment analysis on recent mentions.
  • Testimonials and Customer Feedback – Assess testimonials for alignment with brand values. Review customer feedback surveys and testimonials.
  • Videos – Check company overview and marketing videos for brand consistency. Review recent videos and compare them with brand guidelines.
  • Systems and Infrastructure – Ensure internal systems reflect brand values. Carry out employee surveys on system effectiveness.

Step 3: Identify Gaps and Challenges

Internal Review:

  • Brand guidelines lacked clarity, causing inconsistent messaging.
  • Sales and marketing teams had different brand interpretations.

External Perception:

  • Customers valued reliability but found messaging unclear.
  • Brand confusion due to similar visual identity to other competitors in the market.

Content Review:

  • Blog posts and white papers lacked a consistent tone of voice.
  • Landing pages missed compelling CTAs to drive action.

Employee Insights:

  • Employees unclear on brand differentiators and USP’s.

Step 4: Develop Recommendations and Solutions

Update Brand Guidelines:

  • Clarify visual brand identity rules and provide employee training.

Revise Messaging Strategy:

  • Simplify and strengthen key messages for clarity.
  • Highlight unique selling points in all customer-facing content.

Improve Content Consistency:

  • Standardise brand tone of voice and align content with brand values.
  • Add compelling CTAs to landing pages to increase conversios.

Improve Competitor Differentiation:

  • Update visual identity for stronger differentiation.

Regular Employee Training:

  • Conduct quarterly brand training sessions so align all employees.

Step 5: Implement Solutions and Measure Success

  • Increased customer satisfaction by 15% due to clearer messaging.
  • Boosted social media engagement by 20% with distinct visual identity.
  • Improved internal brand alignment, leading to a 10% rise in sales efficiency.

By following these steps and using this example as a guide, your brand audit can reveal important insights and help realign your brand strategy.

letters a and b written on white paper

Brand Audit: Before and After

When we conduct a Brand Audit at Canny Creative, we usually hold them over the course of several meetings.

The result of a good brand audit is usually a PDF document, outlining our findings and recommending next steps.

We expect our clients to be as open as they can be with us, without revealing any sensitive information they’re uncomfortable about sharing (although we do encourage people to share as much as they can.)

The more we can get to know about your business, the better.

The goal of a brand audit is to help you and your business, so we focus on bringing value to our clients as we’re not simply running them through the mill.

We want all of our clients to get the most value they can from going through the brand audit process with us. We’re about providing our clients with the right information, tips and advice to drive their businesses forward.

Your brand is a puzzle, and we’re here to help you solve it.

Puzzle pieces being put into place

Who Should Carry Out a Brand Audit?

Technically, you can perform your brand audit in-house, but this doesn’t mean you should. We would always advise you to bring in a branding or design agency to help with your audit.

But, before choosing a design agency, it makes sense to pull together all files and ideas internally.

Start getting the wheels in motion and assess where you’re currently at, and ultimately get to know your brand at a deeper level than you ever have before.

That way, when you bring your agency to the table you can answer their questions, and get feedback from them on elements that are concerning you immediately.

Having an understanding of the brand, where it’s at and where you want it to go will make everyone’s job easier.

However, working with an agency adds several layers of complexity.

When conducting a brand audit, some agencies will prefer to work in their clients office, to immerse themselves in the company and their culture.

Others will prefer to work from the comfort of their own office and have their client come to them, taking them entirely out of the situation, and forcing them to look at the brand objectively.

At Canny, we prefer a mix of approaches:

Where possible, we split our meetings between our office and our clients, getting the best of both possible situations.

Why Is a Brand Audit Important?

A brand audit is important as it allows you to find out exactly where your brand is, compared to where you want it to be.

You can find out if you’re on the right track, and if you’re off, it will help you to identify exactly where you’re going wrong and how you can get back on track.

For example, if you’re attracting the wrong type of client, it could be a great opportunity to look at rebranding, or changing your website, or both.

Equally, the brand audit can help you sell the idea of change to the decision makers in your company.

If things aren’t matching up, talk to them about change.

You should be asking:

How many deals do we lose each month to a company with a stronger brand than us?

By conducting a brand audit and identifying gaps, or choosing to rebrand, you’re making steps to stop this happening again.

How many prospects leave our website because we’re not sending the right message?

This happens a lot, and it’s important that your brand and website are consistent with each other.

Imagine you’re handed a business card at an expo or event. It looks great and feels great. You’re excited to check out your new contact’s website.

You head back to the office and log-on, and bam, you’re hit with popups left, right and centre, and it looks like it was built in the 90’s. There’s even a spinning @ symbol.

What happens? You hit the back button, and throw away the business card.

You need to make sure prospects and leads are experiencing familiarity with your brand touch points, as consistency is important.

Brand Audit Services

When it comes to evaluating the health and effectiveness of your brand, professional brand audit services can be an invaluable resource.

These services are designed to offer an in-depth analysis of your brand’s current position in the market and its overall impact on your target audience.

As a comprehensive brand audit encompasses a wide range of elements such as brand identity, messaging, visual assets, and market positioning, you might find it easier to use an experienced professional.

These teams can carry out thorough research, customer surveys, competitor analysis, and more to provide you with a comprehensive view of your brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

Furthermore, they’re able to offer strategic recommendations and action plans based on their findings, helping you make informed decisions to strengthen your brand’s presence and resonance in a competitive landscape.

Whether you’re an established business looking for a brand refresh or a startup seeking to establish a strong brand foundation, brand audit services can be a key step in achieving your branding goals.

canny-services-social-media

Our Top Tools for Helping with Your Brand Audit

There are several tools we use to help when we’re carrying out a brand audit, and most of these tools are web based, and have a free plan that you can sign up too.

Our three top used tools are as follows.

Asana

We use Asana to keep notes, and plan out routes for going forward.

In Asana you have a “Board” view, similar to Trello, and a “List” view, which is great for keeping a to-do list.

This tool allows you to assign people tasks to carry out, and check them off once complete.

It also opens up discussions around smaller tasks, and these discussions form the basis of some great ideas for helping companies move forward.

Pinterest

If we decide to press ahead with a rebrand, we use Pinterest to collate all of our visual research, and we use it to explore ideas for new visual directions and branding for companies.

It’s a bit of a “brain dump” in terms of we throw everything up there and see what sticks, before we then discuss this with the client.

From there, we decide how the brand should move forward, and whether a complete change in visual direction is needed, or whether smaller subtle changes might be the way to go.

InvisionApp

InvisionApp is where we pull everything together. We use it to refine the direction of the rebrand, pull in ideas for language, photography, typography and more.

The best thing about Invision is it’s great commenting system.

We can pull together a brand board and direction for a company and hand it over to them. They can then make comments about our findings in their own time, and at the next meeting we can discuss everything together.

Brand Audit: How to Carry Out a Brand Audit

Companies that aren’t yet working towards building a long term relationship with a design agency, should start there.

Once that ball is rolling, the first thing they should do is audit their brand.

Building a long term relationship allows trust to build and ideas to flow freely.

A brand audit is the starting point of any relationship we have with our clients. Without it, it’s impossible to get to know the intricacies of our clients’ brands.

We like to conduct brand audits or “Checkups” periodically throughout our working relationship. This helps to ensure we’re all still on the right track and pushing in the same direction.

What do you think? Have you had a successful brand audit? Are you looking to get started? If so, then get in touch!

Hey I'm Tony, Founder and Director of Canny Creative. I eat, sleep and bleed Canny to be honest. I'm an absolute workaholic (and yes, I know that's not a good thing!).

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