There are many ways to define a brand. In one very important respect, a brand is the collection of all the experiences one can have with its varied touch points. And as businesses and their respective brands grow, those touch points begin to grow exponentially—and diversify widely. Managing brand touch points for consistency of message, continuity of look and feel, and clarity of purpose requires diligence and, at times, a comprehensive look at the big picture. This is where the brand audit plays a major role.
Whether you’re conducting a brand assessment as part of a routine marketing exercise or undergoing a complete re-brand at the corporate level, an audit of your branded materials, communications and tools can help you accomplish a number of important tasks.
5 Reasons Why You Should Conduct an Audit of Your Brand Today
1. Understand what’s out there.
Experienced corporate marketing leaders know that when divisions, departments, and teams are given any level of autonomy with branded materials and communications, they will over time begin to stray away from the original brand in terms of appearance and messaging. The desire for these groups to put their unique fingerprint or “spin” on branded materials is not something to be underappreciated as it can lead to advancements in the name of their specific audiences. But this must be weighed against the greater good of the brand. A comprehensive brand audit will uncover extraneous communications or even ones being used inappropriately. An audit gives you a lay of the land and looks at the full extent of your brand’s touch points.
2. Understand what’s not out there.
Once you know what exists, you can identify potential gaps that are occurring at the corporate or divisional level. There may be groups not taking advantage of certain platforms, media, or tactics, which can have a real impact on audience engagement. There may be tactics or communications being used effectively by one group that could greatly benefit another. Without taking stock of what is being used, you’re not able to take advantage of these potentially unforeseen opportunities.
3. Prioritize critical materials (and stop wasting resources on others).
In addition to simply identifying and categorizing a brand’s touch points, a comprehensive brand audit will also allow you to prioritize each touch point by level of importance. Decisions can be made regarding the continuation, improvement, or termination of touch points that are looked at as objective contributors to or detractors from the brand. This becomes critical when updates to the brand (whether verbal, visual or both) need to be made. What are the must haves? What are the nice to haves? And what are still in existence simply because someone hasn’t put a stop to them yet?
4. Plan ahead for budgeting purposes and material attrition.
Thomas Edison once said, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” It’s a quote we like to share when discussing brand activation planning with clients. The creation and maintenance of a brand requires a significant investment of time and money. Through the brand audit process, you’ll uncover what’s being used and identify what’s important. With this knowledge, you’re now able to make decisions on what touch points need to be addressed in order to be most effective. You’re able to dedicate resources and establish timelines to ensure you’re maximizing budgetary effectiveness and, ultimately, brand power.
5. Bring teams together and collaborate corporate-wide.
A brand audit is a time to get everyone thinking the same way and speaking the same language. A time to work together to conduct a “spring cleaning,” discuss and evaluate current materials and tactics, and plan for the future of the organization’s communications strategy. Look at this as an opportunity to re-educate and rally the team around what the brand stands for. And to reinforce the importance of each touch point in the grand scheme of the branded experience.
In the end, a brand should own a place in the mind. It’s up to you to make sure it’s the right place.