Just hearing the word audit can send even some of the most organized companies into a state of panic – that is if you are referring to a financial audit.
But what about a brand audit? Often times, this kind of audit is only undertaken by a brand when they are starting with a new agency partner or when a new marketing or brand manager joins the team — and, like a financial audit, they take time and require a great deal of insight and participation from multiple groups within an organization.
But should this be the only time that the discipline of a brand audit is exercised? And should the audit be looked at as just a lot of “unnecessary” work? The answer to both questions is no. While a brand audit is meant to define where you have been, where you are now and what brand positioning, messaging, voice etc. has been established to move you forward, it doesn’t take long for all of this to veer off in different directions. This is not to say that adapting and changing course is a problem — many times, changes are necessitated and driven by real-time data and feedback to current campaigns or promotions, but not being aware of when, where and why things have changed course is a problem.
Here are the three main areas that should be audited on a quarterly or semi-annual basis to be sure everything is aligned:
- Strategy: The plan and methods that were identified to meet your business goals always need to be measured against results. While many things affect results, one thing that needs to be evaluated is if your strategy has changed. If it has, are all of the brand stakeholders aware of the changes? If you are still on the same course, has there been an objective look into the results that would validate that this is the course to stay on?
- Creative: The visual and communication elements of your brand play a key role in the success or failure of your strategy. Having a consistent brand message and maintaining the visual identity that makes your brand distinct is vital to your brands’ success. Taking the time to audit all of the creative together at once is both refreshing and revealing—but be sure the time spent in evaluation is built on healthy critiques rather than unhealthy criticism.
- Execution: The tactics and media that were executed is an area that seems to get more attention, especially in the digital arena, because the effectiveness, efficiency and results of a tactic can be gauged in real-time and with much more clarity. Regardless, a brand audit can help a team evaluate the brand’s delivery on the KPIs that were established prior to the campaign going live.
The reality is that brand audits should not be feared or put you and your team into a state of panic. Completing brand audits more frequently will keep you on track (especially if/when goals and objectives have changed), ensure that you have the proper evaluation tools in place, and confirm that all brand stakeholders are aware of where you stand in accomplishing your goals.