A brand audit is a detailed analysis that shows how your brand is currently performing compared to its stated goals, comparing it to your competitors and how it fare in the minds of your customers.
There is no one size fits all. The methodology of a brand audit differs from industries and organisations. Regardless of the exact criteria you choose to measure, an audit should allow you to:
- Establish the performance of your brand
- Discover your strengths and weaknesses
- Align your strategy more closely with the expectations of your customers
- Understand your place in the market compared to the competition
As an ‘outsider’, your branding agency has a clearer, more objective lens and can provide keen insights about your internal branding: your positioning, voice, brand values, culture, USP, and product. They can also share valuable views of your external branding such as logo and other brand elements, website, advertising, SEO, social media, and your communication touchpoints. With analysis, research and data, they can inject key points for improvement, such as customer service, HR policies, and sales processes.
The following is a sample list of questions that a brand agency may ask during a brand audit:
Questions for company executives/stakeholders:
1) What are the core values of your business?
Core values are the principles of your brand, a guiding philosophy. E.g., for Apple, they have 7 core values that include: ‘We believe in the simple, not the complex’, ‘We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products that will change the world’.
2) How would you describe your brand?
Your brand is the sum of people’s perception of your products, vision, and content. A personality. A personality are the human characteristics we give a brand. For example, Amazon has a reliable, competent, sincere and caring personality.
3) Name one thing or few things that your brand is remembered for
Apple is known for innovation, Starbucks is known for ambience. What about your brand? What is its value prop? What is the first thing that comes to your mind?
4) What do you think of your brand’s logo?
Think of how well it registers in the mind of the customers. What messages does it convey? Is it well communicated on the company collateral, website, name card, products?
5) Does the current visual identity reflect your personality?
Your visual identity is the overall face of the company, the visual elements that are chosen to represent your company. Apple is about simplicity and innovation, and these are reflected in the way the product is designed, right down to its packaging.
6) Does it align with or communicate the brand values?
Think about your brand values. Be it trust, sincerity, reliability, or innovation, is it seen in the way the organisation is presented both internally and externally? Is it communicated through the product design, advertising, public relations etc.,? Does it resonate with the staff?
7) Does it differentiate your brand?
Can your brand’s visual identity stand out in the crowd?? Is it memorable and reflective of your brand values?
8) Is your branding and marketing consistent?
How do you speak to your customers in terms of tone of voice, typography, colours, and images? How is the product brochure/collateral written? In a friendly tone? Authoritative? Corporate? Is there a mish mash of colours used everywhere? How many different typefaces are used? Think of Apple, what colours come to your mind? What about images, what sort of feelings do the images convey? Is it more people or product focused?
Finally, if there is a set tone of voice and look and feel, is it consistent through your communication pieces?
9) What are the biggest opportunities to improve?
If they could change anything they want of the brand, what would they change?
10) Identify the things you would like your new visual identity to communicate
Think of the missing gaps, what values are missing? Which part of the brand personality is not seen through the identity?
Questions to ask employees:
11) Would you recommend this brand or product to your friends?
Yes and no, what are the reasons?
12) What do you like and dislike most about this brand?
What can be done better to make it a brand they can be proud of?
13) What are things that keep you from delivering on the brand promise?
Reveal the road blocks in their job? It may be a supervisor who does not understand the brand values or simply the processes.
14) Why do customers choose this brand over the competition or vice versa, why is this brand not chosen?
Share your understanding of the products and customers. Open up on the improvements you have in mind.
15) How would you change about the brand to align with what you think the customers are looking for?
It can be a new feature, improved customer service, a better design, reliability, or even price point. Perhaps even a brand identity? It may just be a simple reason of why people choose a certain brand over the other just because it seems more premium or has stronger brand equity.
Questions to ask customers:
16) What do you know about this brand?
How does it compare against the competitors? What do you like and dislike most about it?
17) How do you feel about the brand?
Describe the brand, your feelings about the brand. Be it the logo, the colours, the imageries. Is it something you can trust and recommend?
18) What problem does it solve for you?
Be it making your life easier, more enjoyable … what other problems do you wish it can help with?
19) How responsive is customer service?
Is it easy to find support? What else can be done better?
20) What would make you like this brand more?
Is it a more recognisable, cooler logo? Cheaper products? Better design? Reliability? Customer support?
Questions about competitor brands
21) Where do they stand in the market in relation to your brand?
Why are they doing better? What are they doing differently?
22) What is their brand story?
Do they have a compelling story? Their history? Their reason for being? E.g., To make the world more sustainable, a better world with their products … ? Is it clear, their personality, positioning, etc., through their visual and marketing presentation?
23) Logo, look and feel
What imageries do they use, what is the dominant typeface, what about the colour palette? What is their tone of voice, witty, serious, light-hearted …? Do they use more photography or illustration? If so, what style?
24) What commonality do you observe?
Which of the above do they have in common?
25) What are the opportunities do differentiate?
Based on the observations, what are ways and things you can improve and make more unique? It can be the way it is designed, or the colours, or even making it look more premium.
Questions to ask partners and vendors
26) How do you feel about working with this brand?
How does the company treat its partners and vendors? Is the company the same outside as it is inside?
27) How does it compare against the competition?
What would they think are the strengths and weaknesses?
28) What would you recommend to improve in terms of working dynamics?
How can things be better so that the product delivery can be improved?
29) Are there things that this brand should be doing that it is not?
How can it do better in relation to their understanding of the industry and the competitors?
30) Would you recommend this brand to others?
If not, why not?
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