Have you checked the health of your brand lately?
In my post What Exactly is a Brand? I explained that a brand is a vehicle that connects your business, product, service or even yourself to your audience. A brand is made up of many things including your logo, the messages you send out, the design of your products, and the experience of your service. A brand, therefore, has great value to your business. It is easy to create a brand, but it needs to be nurtured to make sure it stays relevant in the mind of your existing audience, whilst also working to attract the attention of new ones. However, as the realities of running a business set in it becomes all too easy to forget about maintaining your brand unless you absolutely have to. And before you know it your brand is tired, dusty, and trailing your competitors.
Here in the UK cars over the age of three have a legal requirement to undergo a yearly MOT (Ministry of Transport) check to pick up and correct any faults to ensure that the car is roadworthy. This is done in a bid to keep the driver and other road users safe. The same approach could be applied to your brand. The difference is that you want to ensure that your business remains relevant, is visible in the marketplace and that you can keep engaging your customer’s attention in a content noisy world.
In other words, making a habit of periodically reviewing and updating your brand will help keep your business competitive and visible. So when was the last time you to sat down and reviewed your brand? If it has been a while it’s probably time for a brand audit.
What is a brand audit?
To audit, something is to inspect it closely. As the name suggests a Brand Audit allows you the time to inspect your brand and see how well it is performing. The process involves measuring the progress of your brand against the long-term goals you have for it and helps you see how well your brand is performing in the marketplace. You will need to go through all the elements that make up your brand, seeing what needs to be updated, discarded or left alone.
Why it is important to do a brand audit
Conducting a regular brand audit is important because if you have been nurturing your brand, signs of growth should be evident. Brands are not static, they do evolve in response to the development of your business. This means your brand today could be different from your brand of 12 or even 6 months ago. And some of your key messaging, style of imagery and even values may have evolved to reflect where your brand is now. You may find that your audience has shifted. This is especially true of start-ups still finding their brand voice.
A brand audit does not mean getting rid of everything that has been in the past. It is merely a process of keeping an eye on growth and how your brand is changing to reflect this. Making sure you catch and fix the areas where you are going off-brand and that your brand is moving your business in the right direction.
A brand audit does not have to be complex. The hard part is setting up a process the first time you do it, but after that, it will become easier.
What you are looking to do is:
- Make a list of all the key elements that make up your brand i.e. visual identity, website, messaging
- Go through each element and ask yourself if it still reflects your brand and the direction you have for your business i.e. For imagery you would want to know if your images still project the image you want for your business
- For anything that is not working decide if it is still useful or if you need to get rid of it, or if it needs updating your solution to do so
- Make the updates as required
To help you get started I have created a brand audit checklist of the brand elements you will need to consider that you can download for free here.