A brand strategy begins with auditing what already exists for your business. To really understand what you need to do in order to grow your business and move forward, it’s crucial that you start by taking a hard look at what you already have and make adjustments to what needs to be changed.
In 2016 I audited my own brand. It was a long process that needed to be done in order for my business to grow. I shared the whole story of how I increased my income by 1000% in 6 months, and auditing was essential to that growth. As a branding specialist + web designer, I have been auditing businesses for years as part of the brand strategy I build for my clients. For the second time in a few years, I had to do it for my own business. Like with everything in terms of branding, there’s a lot of information you need to look at. In order to create a brand strategy that’s effective, you have to audit your brand both externally and internally. It’s not just about what’s not working, but rather taking your brand as a whole and seeing how you can make what IS working into something bigger.
why build a brand strategy through auditing?
Because by auditing your brand, you get to get rid of what’s not working and leverage what IS. You see, it’s your chance to take a whole look at your brand and answer:
Is my brand clear?
Is it communicating what I want in the most effective manner?
Is my target audience getting me?
Do I visually represent who I am internally?
Answering these questions is vital to providing a clear insight into your brand and determining the strategies moving forward. For me, it made me change the way I did business completely; from the services I was providing, to my messaging and marketing strategies moving forward. For you, it could mean getting a clearer picture, making you stand out and building strategies that will move you forward.
I have created an incredible 15-page guide that will help you review and audit your own brand! You can download it here for free:
brand audit: from the inside out
The first step to auditing your brand comes from taking a deep look into your brand and business on the inside.
1. Is your mission aligned with who you are?
Take a look at what you mission is and what you do in your business each day. Are you doing what you say you’re doing? Are you creating the value you promise?
In my case, the value I promise is to create unique brands that attract. So, everything I do (including this post), have to be aligned with that idea.
It all begins by taking a look at your mission and analyzing whether your feel you are aligned with those beliefs your first determined when you started your business.
In my case, my mission was still aligned with who I am and what I do: I’m a branding specialist + designer that helps entrepreneurs create unique brands by showcasing what makes them remarkable while attracting more customers + building a successful business. This phrase has evolved a bit over the years for me, but in essence, it’s meaning has always been the same.
In your case, ask yourself:
2. Are you getting closer to your vision?
Next, I want you to ask yourself if you’re getting closer to your vision. Your vision is all about where you want your business to go and how you want to be seen. So, everything you do must be getting you at least a tiny, minuscule step forward to where you ultimately want to see your business in the future. What can you do to take you closer? What do you need to change or leave out?
3. Are you clear on who your target audience is?
A very important factor to analyze in terms of your brand is whether or not you truly understand who your target audience is. You have to ask yourself what their needs are and where they’re going. Once you have them defined, look at what you’re creating and offering to determine whether it’s the best choice. Another thing is to see if your audience is aligned with your values.
4. Are your product/services aligned with your brand?
This is one of the big changes I made to my business when I did my own brand audit. You see, I used to offer design services as well. I worked with a lot of musicians (because my husband is a singer), and design album and concert art. I would also do a few corporate brochures. When I did my brand audit, I decided to remove these services. I really wanted to focus 100% in branding in terms of defining and building a brand from the ground up. Creating additional collateral material is part of building a brand, but has more to do with advertising than branding.
So, looking at what you do; is there anything that you don’t need to be doing? Are there services that you could focus on more that will make your brand stronger? And on the flip side, is there anything else you could be offering that your clients really need?
Remember to download the free guide I created for you to audit your own brand! It will help you in reviewing the inside aspects of your business and see what needs to be changed!
brand audit: from the outside in
Once we have taken a hard look at what’s going on inside your business, it’s time to finally look and analyze the outside. Auditing your brand on the outside is a great way to make sure your brand is really aligned and strong. Like always, there are probably somethings that you’re doing right and then others that need change ASAP. The important thing is making changes that will help you grow your business.
5. What does your logo look like?
This is (obviously, I’m going to say this) a big one. I have had many clients over the years that are really attached to their logos and have a hard time accepting the fact that it may need a chance. How do you know it need to be refreshed? If your brand is not relevant at all and you’re not getting through to your target audience. If your vision and values have changed over the years and the logo doesn’t reflect the new you. If your logo is completely outdated, old, and hey, you might not even have the original files. These are all reasons to change your logo. However, one of the most common ones I see, is that your look doesn’t match your function. What this means is, you’re targeting (for example) a very high-end group, but your logo looks a bit cheap.
The reason this is pretty common is that a lot of times, when businesses start up, they hire a cheap designer to spend less money on branding and focus on other things. The bad thing about doing it that way is that eventually you will have to pay the price.
Your logo might need a really small change. In the case of mine, I only changed the font of “branding + design” to Cheddar Jack, a font that felt more organic and hand-written which reflected a bit more personality and like a REAL person was behind my brand. This was important to me.
6. Are your fonts + color consistent?
The very basics of building a strong brand, is making sure you’re consistent everywhere. This means having set fonts and making sure you use the same ones as well as a color palette that is used everywhere. This was another one of the changes I made. I used to use Helvetica Neue for my text fonts and now have move to Raleway (the one you’re reading right now). This meant that I had to make sure all the documents I made were updated in order to build a consistent brand. This is pretty simple, you don’t see the big brands out there using different fonts everywhere. Apple ALWAYS uses the same fonts, no matter if it’s in a package, TV commercial or app. This is part of their brand strategy and it helps build your personality. So, take a look at your business cards, content, website, presentations or any other place you have control over your content. Do the fonts and color schemes match? This should be pretty easy to change.
7. Is your webpage serving a purpose?
Another very important part of auditing your brand is taking a long, hard look at your website. The easiest way to do this is creating a sitemap for your page. Writing down each of your pages and sections and analyzing each of them separately. What does each page do? Does your message get across clearly? Is there a clear call to action? Are the visuals aligned with your branding? Do the images make sense from page to page? Is there a cohesiveness to your page?
When I did my own audit, this is one the things I changed. My website needed an update and needed to serve a purpose. I didn’t have a sales funnel setup and wasn’t telling a story or building my brand through my page. Yep, I hate to admit it, but my page wasn’t very good at all. This is the one part of my brand audit that took the most time. I redid my page completely making sure I was very effective in the way I communicated. Another crazy little thing I did? I started this blog! Even though I had always loved writing, I didn’t think I could integrated with my business. Silly me, right? It has been amazing creating so much great content and getting closer to people everywhere. So, is your page serving a purpose as well?
8. Does your brand come through your social media?
Another really important thing needed in terms of your brand strategy and audit, is analyzing how you come through in social media. If you don’t use social media for business, that’s the first thing to look at — because, you should! In terms of branding, your profile pictures should be the same across all platforms. This helps build recognition and let’s people know that it’s you everywhere. If you look at my profile pics, you will see the same photo everywhere.
Not only that, it’s also the photo I use in my homepage and within emails I send out. Why? Well, it’s a photo that feels pretty natural and feels like me. My personality shines through and I love the yellow background. I used it across all my profiles to make sure people know that it’s the same Fabi Paolini!
Another thing to look at in terms of social media is the description you have on your profiles. So, you want to make sure it’s clear who you are and what you do. Remember, this is for your business and like such should talk about what you do in terms of that! Take a look at my profiles, apart from the photo, you can read a shorter version of my mission everywhere: Creating unique brands that attract. This gives total clarity on who I am and what I do. I also have included a free guide to Brand Your Business on all my platforms. This is a great way to let people know more about what I do while giving a TON of free value (15 pages of branding-building goodness!). By the way, you can download that right here!
9. What does your brand voice sound like?
Next, you want to take a look at the other content you are creating across different platforms. How do your emails sound? What do your tweets read like? What do your Instagram posts say about you? The important thing here is to analyze the way that you’re communicating with your audience. If your brand is all about being relatable, it’s important that you’re relatable in every place people come in contact with you. That means your email, your social media AND in person. If your brand is more about being an expert, it’s important that your language is very academic throughout. So, take a look at the messages you are putting out there and get a feel for how you’re coming through.
10. How do people perceive you?
Finally, you want to look at your brand as a whole and figure out how people are perceiving you. A great way to do this is by ACTUALLY asking your target audience, friends, followers or readers. Do they see you like how you want to be seen? Is there a recurring theme in what they tell you? Are the things they tell you aligned with who you are? One important thing to take into account is understanding what your audience actually needs from you vs. what you’re giving them. This is an essential part of your brand strategy and audit.
putting it all together
Once you have taken a look at what already exists within your brand, it’s the time to make changes. I know, I know, change sometimes is scary. When I did my own brand audit I felt nervous too. I get it. It’s SO much easier looking at what clients are doing and making changes for them than for me. I know how that feels. But I also know that the changes that I made helped my income increase by 1,000% in 6 months. Not too bad, right? So, even though making changes to your brand might seem risky, the REAL risk is not changing at all.
Don’t forget to download the free 15-page guide I created for you to audit your own business + brand! There’s so much there you might not be thinking about! It could really surprise you!