The COVID-19 pandemic is ushering in a new reality. To ensure you’re prepared for it, you need to know where you currently stand. A brand audit can help you understand the current state of your brand.
In this SmartBrief on Leadership video, I explain why you need to do a brand audit now and how to do one. My top piece of advice: Pay attention to the new assets and outlets used during the crisis. They might have been developed without the usual approvals and coordination, but they might be affecting perceptions of your brand the most.
Check out all of my tips for conducting a brand audit that will set you up for whatever happens after the pandemic.
In these uncertain times, one thing is clear: There’s no going back to normal. The sooner we accept that and start preparing for the new reality — whatever that might be — the better. So now is the ideal time to conduct a brand audit.
You see, your company has probably implemented a lot of changes in the very short time since the COVID-19 crisis began, perhaps outside of the normal processes and controls. So you need to get a handle on where you currently stand. A brand audit will reveal how your brand is showing up today.
Specifically, a brand audit:
- Number one, gives you clarity on the current state of your brand and the gaps between your existing and desired brand identity.
- Two, it helps you determine alignment of your brand with customer needs and expectations, especially given how much they’ve probably changed recently.
- And, it can help you determine if you’re focused on the right things or if your strategies and budget need to change.
So how do you conduct a brand audit? Well, there is no single right way and it really depends on your existing research and analysis capabilities, as well as how much time, energy and money you want to put into it. But all brand audits should examine your brand from two perspectives: internal and external.
For the internal perspective, you want to investigate your brand strategy as well as your organizational culture, operations, products and services, sales, service and other strategic priorities.
You can do your internal audit by
- Examining content produced for internal audiences, such as strategic documents, employee communications, and process and training manuals.
- Also you should conduct employee surveys on the culture and employee experience.
- And collect and analyze performance data from operations, sales, service, etc.
The external perspective of your brand audit should cover your logo and other visual and verbal elements like your tagline, your website and social media, advertising and promotions, investor and public relations, events and all your physical locations.
To do that,
- Conduct customer surveys and examine industry and market research to get outsiders’ opinions about your brand and learn how you’re performing relative to what they want and need.
- You should also take a walk in your customers’ shoes and inventory and assess every brand touchpoint in your customer experience, both in person and digital.
- And collect and analyze usage and effectiveness data from media channels — not only owned media such as your website and social media accounts, but also paid media such as search and content marketing, and earned media like reviews and news coverage.
If this sounds like a lot, it is, but you need to take into account every aspect of your brand and everything that impacts they way it is perceived to get an accurate read. And you can always do a brand audit in stages — first looking into the most visible and influential variables and then digging deeper and being more thorough in the future.
In any case, be sure to pay special attention to the new assets that were created and the new outlets your company might have used during the pandemic. Enroll people throughout your organization or set up a cross-functional team with representatives from every unit and department to ensure the audit covers all efforts that may have been undertaken independently by different groups.
A clear, definitive understanding of the current state of your brand is the best position from which to plot your next moves. Get there with a brand audit.