As our client list grows we’ve started noticing a trend with business surrounding their brand, they fall into a few distinct categories. You have businesses that have virtually no ‘brand’ consistency, businesses that have a brand they created but have deviated from it over time, and businesses that have a well established and consistent brand. Recently our content has been focused on the first group. Starting from little or nothing and going to something generally has the biggest impact on small business. It makes content creation easier and design decisions significantly faster. What if you have the basics down? What’s the next step?
The Brand Audit
Auditing a brand isn’t that much different from auditing your company. Look at what you have documented and make sure you’re following it and if it’s not documented….you guessed it….document it. So let’s jump into it. Your brand audit should be addressing 3 specific aspects: Internal branding, external branding, and customer experience. These 3 pieces of your business should be in the back of your mind while we work through the audit.
Step 1. Know Your Metrics
The documentation that you’ve previously developed should be your bible here. Review your marketing and business plans. These two documents should contain each of the things you’ll be using to gauge your success. Look specifically (or develop) your business vision, mission, and position in the market place. You’ll also need to know who you’re trying to reach and what makes you valuable to them. This can be multifaceted, but if you’re just starting to grow don’t be afraid to keep it generic at first. Revisiting this audit from time to time is wise. Your business will evolve and grow and without diligence, it’s easy to lose track of who you are.
Clarify what YOU know your brand is before going and figuring out what others think.
Step 2. Assess Your Marketing
Are you following the guidelines you’ve laid out? Do you have guidelines laid out? This is the time to discover those things. We’re cleaning the house and it’s important that everything from your logo to the business card you hand out every day are on the table. This also includes your digital presence. Do your social media accounts reflect your business? Is the personality they’re embodying interesting and reflective of what YOU want the brand to be? If you’re wanting a professional and quiet brand, having a twitter that looks like @wendys where you berate customers and poke fun at the competition is probably not the best choice.
From your tone to your logo, is your brand consistent across platforms and mediums? And how effective are you reaching your target market with each medium and platform? This is the time to prune the stuff that sucks and grow where your customers are responding.
Step 3. Review your website
We’re a little bias here because it’s one of our core offerings. But your website is important and if it’s not working there might be a company to reach out to that can help.
But how do you know if it’s working? Great question. Look at the data you have. If you don’t have data….then stop reading this and get analytics reporting on your website. Once they’re on and reporting you need to start digging into the data. There are a few top-level questions to ask yourself to get a measure of where things are.
Where is your traffic coming from? Social media? Search?
Where are they landing? Are they coming for articles you’ve written? Or the tips you’ve shared? Determine what has worked in the past and keep track of them. You aren’t necessarily going for a ton of views, you’re looking for views and clicks from your target customers. If you have a ton of tips for getting the most out of your classic American muscle cars, but you’re a litigation attorney or a system architect for enterprise networks, that traffic is probably not very useful.
Step 4. Talk to Your Customers.
This is really a crazy concept in some industries. Talk tot your customers. Without being annoying and contacting them daily, it’s completely reasonable to reach out to them for feedback. Using customer focus groups or digital surveys you can get answers to very valuable questions that can provide you the insight necessary to help you improve your brand. By this point, you should have a good idea of what you aren’t certain on. Use your customers to fill in the blanks and be a check against your ego. Ask if they would recommend you to their friends, or how your customer service is.
Step 5. Stalk your Competitors.
Find the companies you want to be, and check them out. What are they doing for marketing, website content, social media post, and what do their customers think of them? Your competitors aren’t keeping secrets from you, usually, put yourself in the mindset of a customer and just explore with curiosity.
Step 6. Review and Monitor
Now that you’ve gathered your data it’s important to document what aspects of your brand work, which need some more thought, and which are failing miserably. Once the list is complete you can start looking for things to improve upon and iterate over. Your action plan moving forward should have metrics you’ve already identified and are ready to dive deeper into.