Your branding – getting to grips with what works and what doesn’t is every bit as important as analysis in other areas of your business. But don’t mistake this for an airy-fairy process of colour, design and styles. We want to be clear – a successful brand audit absolutely relies on data.
If you’re thinking about embarking on a re-brand, there’s a lot you need to know. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the what (and the what not), the why, who and how.
The What Not…
You don’t have to look far to appreciate the cost and reputational implications for companies that forge ahead with a re-brand without paying due care and attention to their audit.
Take Cardiff City – from blue to red and back again (I mean c’mon – the fans’ affectionate nickname for the club was ‘The Bluebirds’!). Estimated cost? £100 million.
Then there’s Gap – which gave graphic designers plenty to snigger over when they revealed their 90’s vibe logo design (but we’re betting Gap execs didn’t find the $100 million price tag very amusing).
And finally there’s the Holiday Inn – the only one of our three examples to NOT have reverted to their old branding (but at a cost of $1 billion, this re-branding exercise is easily among the most expensive in history).
So that’s the cost of getting a rebrand wrong. Now let’s move onto WHY branding is so important to get right in the first place.
The Power of Branding
Branding can be the most powerful marketing tool you possess, yet for most businesses, they fail to capitalise on all a clear, appropriate and consistent brand can bring.
Get it right, and a strong brand will build awareness, create brand loyalty, nurture trust, inspire employees and naturally lead to a “buy-in culture.”
Take Apple, when they launch a new iPhone model, people STILL queue overnight for them. Then there’s sportswear – people wear Nike, Adidas or K-Swiss for the logo, while those famed golden arches of McDonalds cause many to turn off a motorway for a meal – almost without the driver going through a conscious process of their other options for food.
If all of the above sounds like something that could benefit your company, you mustn’t skip your re-brand audit.
You Should Tackle a Brand Audit When…
- The company may be undertaking a rebrand in the future
- You might be shifting your brand position
- You’re concerned that you don’t understand how your brand is perceived by your audience
- You want to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your business
- You’re concerned that your branding isn’t consistent (maybe your website doesn’t reflect your products or services, or your social media failures to communicate your mission and vision)
- The business may be changing its focus – from one product, segment or market to another
- Your profits and/or sales are dropping and you’re unsure why
Even the most basic of brand audits should cover three key areas…
- Internal branding — your purpose (or your why) and your culture
- External branding — your logo, print and online advertising and marketing materials, PR, website, social media, email marketing and content marketing
- Customer experience — your sales process, customer support, after sales service and customer service policies
What is the Benefit of a Brand Audit?
A brand audit digs into the purpose of your brand. It allows you to see clearly where the brand is today and where it could or should be tomorrow.
If you’ve wandered off-track with your branding – if it’s inconsistent in some areas, an audit will flag up problematic areas. This stops problems arising such as a contact being lead from your beautiful business card to a website that looks like it belongs in the 00’s (and which goes on to lose you a huge contract).
Ultimately a brand audit should hand you the answers to questions like…
“How many contracts are we losing each quarter to competitors with stronger brands?”
“Does every part of our marketing convey the same personality?”
“How much money are we losing through audience alienation in our newest markets?”
As for third parties – such as branding studios, designers and marketing agencies, your re-brand audit will bring them immediately up-to-date and to a place of in-depth understanding of your brand.
Key question: Go it alone or get an agency on board?
As you’re about to see, handling your own branding audit in-house is entirely possible. But that’s not to say that you should go ahead without the help of branding professionals. While third parties will always make an audit more complex (such as having to consider how you’ll ensure outsiders truly understand your company and culture) there are plenty of benefits to making this move; like…
- Insight without emotion
- Professional tools and processes for opinion gathering and analysis
- A tried and tested audit framework
- Time saved
- Reduced potential for human error
Squibble Pro Tip: A brand audit isn’t meant to solve branding problems. Instead, it should pick up on issues so you can set about fixing them from a point of better understanding.
Essential Tools for Your Re-brand Audit
We use the following three platforms for EVERY re-brand audit we undertake. Here’s why…
Asana – The team collaboration tool
Asana is traditionally used for teamwork and to dos, but it can also be really useful for managing shared notes and working through your audit plan. Because of the collaborative nature of the tool, Asana is ideal for supporting open discussions and back-and-forths between your internal people and any third-parties you might be working alongside.
Pinterest is perfect for the stages that follow your brand audit, allowing you to research current brands and explore style possibilities. It can also prove useful to refer to when gaining informal feedback from your target audience.
This app is useful as a central hub for your brand audit project, allowing you to manage language, imagery, files, typography and notes all from a single place. Like Asana, its strength lies in its streamlined commenting structure, allowing teams to converse effectively even from afar. Ultimately Figma has everything that you’ll need for putting together a brand storyboard.
The value of a branding agency is not to be underestimated. Those worth their salt get to know their clients’ brands on just as deep a level as the client themselves, and also bring their professional expertise to the table.
This blog explains the what and the why of a re-brand audit. Go ahead and download our step-by-step audit for a solid foundation tackling your audit in-house.
But we should also be clear here – this is no replacement for an audit that’s left in the hands of a professional branding agency. And as you’re probably understanding by now, this process isn’t for the faint of heart.
So that’s the what and the why. Now for the how…