brand-audit

Have you ever watched a movie with so many inconsistencies that instead of being able to relax and enjoy the movie, you spend two hours questioning the writer and director’s authenticity? Even if there’s only one error, and it’s a small one, you begin to wonder what else is amiss. You also begin to wonder if you can trust what you’re seeing, hearing, experiencing…and paying for.

This same principle applies to brands. As business owners and brand builders, we strive to represent our values authentically, to always be honest in our dealings with customers…and yet, we often lend feelings of distrust simply by the way we’re inconsistently presenting our brands. One colour that’s off-shade, one phrase that doesn’t support your branded language or one email signature that “doesn’t sound like you” is all it takes.

These mistakes are easy to make, and they’re easy to miss…particularly as a start-up. Your audience may not consciously pick them out; however, their subconscious minds will notice, and create an uneasy feeling that urges them to put distance between themselves and your brand.

That’s the last thing you want, right?

Let’s talk about how you can avoid this by putting your brand through a consistency audit.

Consistent Strategy, with a Brand Audit

When we talk about consistency in branding, it’s important to understand that we’re talking about…

  • colours (one main and one or two supporting)
  • logo (one scalable version for all applications)
  • corporate values (five total, with one central value)
  • language (signature phrases, pace of speech and writing, industry keywords, tone)
  • timing (length of contracts, response times, frequency of communications, delivery)
  • mission (one common goal in mind with every action)

In other words, your customers should come to expect certain things from your brand. Even those who have never made a purchase should get a feeling about your brand, and begin to understand what they should expect. As you move forward and begin to establish relationships and gain more brand awareness, departures from those expectations could be detrimental to your brand.

Here are some areas I suggest auditing, to ensure that your brand strategy is being implemented consistently in all areas:

  • Website: There’s a disturbing trend in website design, and it involves starting with a template. Remember that your brand must be thoroughly unique in order to claim its position in the market; otherwise, it will struggle to differentiate itself and will likely perish in the slush pile. If your website has been built using a template, there’s no way it’s communicating your brand’s uniqueness. Furthermore, there’s no way it’s visually consistent with the rest of your brand’s touchpoints. This is bad, bad news.
  • Social Media: Ensure that your social media pages are in-line with your brand identity. Use images, video and text that adhere to your branded language’s principles. Strive to inform and engage, only posting those things that will build brand awareness and work to further your brand’s mission.
  • brand-auditClothing: Whenever you’re interacting with your audience on behalf of your brand, I suggest that you wear your brand’s colour(s). It wasn’t long after I started wearing orange (and black) at events that people were buying orange accessories and clothing for me. Now, they think of my brand when they see orange in a shop. This is a terrific way to build brand awareness and to ensure that whenever (and wherever) you’re speaking that you’re acting as a brand-building cog for your business.
  • Business Cards: This is spectacular mode through which to express and build your brand, and it’s often overlooked. Engage as many senses as possible with your business cards. Maybe your business card should smell like one of your products or like your branded scent[1], maybe it should be corrugated to mimic your top-selling product, maybe it should unfold into a tiny book or a wee coffee table…anything that will remind people of your brand and make it difficult to throw in the dustbin.
  • On-Hold Message: When callers are put on hold, what are they hearing? Are they hearing thrash screamer death metal music from a baby product brand? Are they hearing the local radio station…who advertises for the competition? Are they being subjected to a prerecorded hard sale of your product before they know much about it? Think about who is calling your office and cater to their needs with your on-hold music or messaging. Are they anxious? Then play relaxing music. Are they excited to learn more about your business? Then play promotional, informational content. And remember, whatever you do, make sure it supports and builds your brand whilst serving your ideal customer.
  • Email Campaigns: From the content you write to the images and videos you include, all aspects of your regular email communications should include all brand aspects. Every time a recipient reads/views an email, your brand is solidified in their mind—so make sure the message is cohesive.
  • Email Signature: Use your email signature (standard to all emails sent on behalf of your business) as a branded call-to-action. Invite people to your website or social media places, introduce a new product, announce an upcoming event…and do it all under the umbrella of your consistent brand.
  • Individual Communications: All team members should be trained in how to communicate your brand to the public. Teach them your branded language. Ensure that they understand and support your mission, vision and values, so that they can be your brand’s unified voice in the world.

Start with these areas, to conduct an audit of your brand’s consistency. And once you’re confident that these are all supporting your message in a cohesive manner, move onto your brand’s other unique touchpoints and heartbeats. You will not only set yourself apart from the competition, you will prove to your ideal customers that your brand is authentic, trustworthy and worth their investment.

Need help with a brand audit? Click here to contact our brand-building expert.

[1] Some brands choose an official scent, then burn candles in the office, hang air fresheners in company vehicles, or provide cologne to team members for sales calls and trade shows.

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