When was the last time you took a good, long look at your branding?
While the beginning of the year tends to be the time when we do some serious personal and professional reflection; it is good practice to regularly step back, reassess, and see where improvements can be made.
This is especially important if:
- Your business has experienced a decrease in performance, customers, or revenue: This one is fairly obvious. If you've noticed that demand has shifted, it might be time to take a good, long look at what your brand is putting out there.
- Your business has grown very quickly and outpaced your current branding and marketing strategies: While quick growth might be a good problem to have, if you want to maintain that growth, your branding and strategy should change with your evolving direction and offerings..
- The industry landscape has changed: Markets, opinions, trends, and technology are ever-changing. You don't have to be on the cutting-edge of everything all the time, but you must remain relevant to your target audience, lest they leave you behind for another business who meets their needs.
The best way to examine your branding and performance is through a Brand & Marketing Strategy Audit. Keep in mind, a Brand & Marketing Strategy Audit is not the same as website usability audit, SEO audit, or ADA accessibility audit, though all of those are also important (and I may cover them in the future, so stay tuned).
A Brand & Marketing Strategy Audit is -- as you can imagine -- specific to your branding and marketing strategies. It helps you identify and fortify the foundation of your business by answering these questions:
What is the message I want to send to my audience?
What do I want that message to achieve?
Is it consistent across all assets, channels, and offerings?
This article will guide you through the steps to do your own Brand & Marketing Strategy Audit, and provide a clear path to fix the items that are holding your business back.
I also created a comprehensive Brand & Marketing Strategy Audit Checklist that you can reference anytime in the Built By Love Agency Hub. That's the centralized location for my digital marketing agency's free educational materials.
If you're already a member, then you know what I'm talking about, and you can just log-in using the button below to grab the checklist. If the Hub is new to you, then you're in for a treat! Just click the button below to register and you'll gain instant access to tons of marketing resources.
Part 1: Brand & Messaging Questions
These questions will help determine how your brand presents itself to your audience, how it’s perceived, and if it’s consistent across the board.
1) Do you have a clearly defined target audience with established pain points?
The more clearly you define your target audience and the problems they're experiencing, the better you can communicate your brand in a way that connects and resonates. Further, you'll be better equipped to know how to communicate the tangible value your company offers.
2) Do you know your brand’s voice and tone?
Are the tone and style of your design and message consistent and on-brand across all forms of communication?
3) Do you understand your "Brand Position"?
Can you express (in less than a paragraph) what your business does and how it’s valuable to your audience? Your Brand Position should immediately convey the reason your audience should choose your business, and what sets you apart from the competition.
4) Does the look of your brand match the way you want customers to perceive your business?
What is your company’s current brand perception?
For example, say you want your customers to view your business as sleek, innovative, and user-friendly -- the "Apple" of your industry, but your brand look and feel is clunky, overly-bright, and loud -- more fit for a fast-food joint like Burger King, rather than the sophisticated organization you want to emulate.
5) Do all elements of your branding look similar?
For example, does your website match your business cards? Does the design of each of your marketing materials present your brand in the proper light?
Here are some questions to ask yourself when examining all of your marketing materials for consistency:
- Do your website pages have a consistent format for navigation, headers, text, typography, and hyperlinks? Do your blogs, emails, and lead magnets also use consistent formatting?
- Does your design help make the content more digestible or does it make it more difficult to understand?
- Do you include CTAs that give your audience a clear path to guide them to precisely the next step you want them to take?
- Does the imagery tell the story you’d like to tell or do the images look too generic or even irrelevant?
At this point in the process, you have the information you need to determine whether your brand is in need of a refresh or will require a more significant redo.
A great way to get you back on track and ensure you stay that way is with a Brand Guide.
Below is one page from a Brand Guide we created for one of our clients.
Several types of Brand Guides exist, but even just a simple one that defines your organization’s colors, typography, voice, tone, and photography can be a huge help. This way you and your team have something clear to follow whenever you create new assets, advertising, or other marketing materials.
If you want help creating a killer Brand Guide for your business (or need a complete Brand refresh), reach out to schedule a free consult with my team and we can discuss what best aligns with your needs.
Part 2: Strategic Marketing Questions
If you're planning to grow, then you must assess your marketing strategies in addition to your branding. In fact, they often go hand-in-hand.
Auditing your marketing strategies is especially important if:
- you don't have a marketing strategy in place
- you are planning to enter a new market, expand, or add new offerings
- you have experienced a change in leadership, or have acquired or merged with another company
1) Do you have a clearly outlined marketing plan for the next 4 quarters?
What are your overarching goals for the next year and each quarter? Are you currently achieving those goals? How do you measure success?
2) What are your primary goals for your website?
Do you want it to generate leads, capture email addresses, be used as a sales platform (and sell more), provide information, or simply give your business an online presence?
Is your website designed in such a way to meet those goals? Is it exhibiting an overall growth pattern?
3) Are you currently using a CRM to proactively manage customer relationships?
When I say "proactively manage customer relationships," I mean you don't just use your CRM with email marketing to blast out announcements.
Do you currently have a strategy to meet leads where they are, qualify them, and continue nurturing them through their entire customer life-cycle and beyond? Sustainable growth will include a strategy to nurture leads who haven't converted or purchased yet, and will also include a strategy to get return business, reviews, and referrals from your existing customers.
4) Do you have marketing materials to attract and engage prospects in the different parts of the customer journey?
Every stage of the customer journey should have at minimum 1 piece of relevant content and messaging that aligns with where they are in the sales cycle.
Does your business create and share any of the below?
- Top of Funnel Free/Educational Content: Blogs, Social Media Content, Newsletters, Infographics, Podcasts
- Middle of Funnel Useful Content: Case Studies, Cheat Sheets, Templates, Resource Lists, Software Downloads
- Bottom of Funnel Converting Content: Customer Stories, Comparison/Spec Sheets, Mini-Class/Webinar, Demo/Free Trial
Another question to ask yourself is if you have a marketing strategy for the consistent publication of relevant content? If not, an Editorial Calendar can help with that.
5) Do your content marketing materials include consistent, meaningful Calls-To-Action
If you're not asking your audience to take action, then they never will. Meaningful CTAs should drive trackable customer action you can follow up on.
They should never be vague and they should tell the customer exactly what you want them to do, such as:
- Shop Now
- Take The Quiz
- Get Your Free Quote
- Schedule Your Assessment
Your CTA for each individual marketing piece (whether it's an ad, site page, or lead magnet) should line up with your marketing goals,
This is why it's vital you have a marketing strategy in place. This way every action you direct your audience towards also moves your business forward.
At the end of the day, a Brand and Marketing Strategy Audit isn’t just a one-off process that you can just conduct once every few years. It is an entire approach that you and your team should apply across the board whenever you are creating new ad strategies, content materials, or marketing communications.
Knowing the specific direction of your branding and marketing strategy will help you make more informed marketing decisions. This won't just help you grow your business -- it will save you from wasting time and money on unfocused efforts.
Want help righting the ship? Schedule your free consult today.
If you want help fixing some of the issues that arose during this brand and strategy audit, I encourage you to schedule a free strategic consult with my team and I.
We can give you clear guidance for your brand's future; or if you want more than that, we can create a quarterly marketing strategy where we do all the work for you. The sky is the limit -- contact us today to see what we can do for your business.
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