We’ve previously looked at the importance of branding – and how crucial it is to keep consistency across print items, websites, online presence – in fact everywhere it appears! Now this is easily said, but how do you make sure it happens in practice?
The first step is to conduct a brand audit. The word ‘audit’ may conjure up feelings of panic, but a brand audit is simply a way of checking that your brand properly represents your business, right now. And as all organisations change and develop, that might be quite different to the time when you originally developed your brand.
A brand audit will tell you where you are today – and what you need to update or change to ensure that consistency. And the great news is that once completed, you’ll find it’s much easier to keep your brand on track.
There are two key elements to consider – the physical and the emotional.
STEP 1 – ARE YOU PHYSICALLY STRONG?
Think through the process of how someone could contact your company. You’ll undoubtedly come up with lots of different routes. They may do a Google search, then visit your website, view a couple of pages and request a brochure. Or they may receive an email and call you. Or they could read a tweet, click on a link and email you. Maybe receive a business card at an exhibition and get in touch.
For each step, think about the physical representation of your company. What does your website homepage look like? How about your email template, your letterhead or your company brochure? How do employees answer the phone? Try to identify all the potential customer touch points.
You can also gather all these materials together and spread them out on a table and take a close and critical look. If possible, get various points of view from across your organisation to review and perhaps an external view if possible.
Here are some things you should look for: –
Are all of these aspects being applied properly and consistently across all communication routes? Make a note of anything that is not complying, and what needs to happen to bring it into line.
STEP 2 – DO STAKEHOLDERS UNDERSTAND YOU?
The emotional side of branding is less tangible. It’s about how your customers, prospects and employees feel about you as an organisation. Are your brand values filtering through to employees? Are you managing your reputation? What do people feel about your brand?
The easiest way to check this is to ask them. For customers and prospects, there are many online survey tools that you could use. When creating a survey – think carefully about what you would like to find out, focus your questions on areas that are within your ability to change, keep the survey short if possible, and order the questions taking into consideration the thoughts of the participant as they complete. Finally, ensure to feedback any changes you make to your audience.
For smaller numbers, you might want to look at focus groups where you gather people together to brainstorm and discuss how they see you. This is best run by an independent person with specific based questions to lead the discussion in the correct way, and helps people to express their true feelings.
Once you have analysed your results, you will see if your brand values are being properly communicated and if not, how you can change this.
In conclusion, a brand audit is the starting point to ensuring consistency of your message externally and internally. And as nothing ever stands still, it’s a good idea to repeat your audit on a regular basis.
If possible have one or two people responsible for your brand representation. That way, whenever any new communication is designed, they can double check to ensure they are properly reflecting the brand.
If you need support to ensure all your communications are consistent or would like to review your brand guidelines call 01933 672 150.
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