The Anatomy of a Brand Audit

For many, the word audit isn’t connected to creativity or much less something that can be good for business or actually fun. However, a brand audit is a great way of reviewing your brand to get an overview of how your company communicates. This is necessary in order to understand what’s working, what’s not working as intended,  and to set a successful course for the road ahead. We recently completed a brand audit and thought we’d share what we’ve identified as some best practices.

What is a Brand Audit?
A brand audit is a 10,000 f00t view of all the materials you are publishing surrounding your brand. For today’s busy consumer it’s never any one piece that fully conveys the message of your brand, but rather the aggregate of all the materials they encounter.  It is important to review these materials with fresh eyes imagining what your customer sees, not what you see. For this reason it might be helpful to work with an outside agency in order to get that genuine fresh perspective. It is also important to view all of the materials together, side-by-side, not one at a time. At MSLK we pin up at least one image or photo of piece of collateral including printed materials, signage, online, etc. (see our brand audit with Figment below)

What questions to ask during a Brand Audit?
As you begin the analytical process it is important to remain focused on what you are looking to get out of this audit. Of course you may be surprised at some discoveries you weren’t even considering, but good questions going in equals good incites coming out.  We ask questions such as:

Brand message

What do you want to communicate about your brand?
Do your materials clearly say this verbally?
What do your materials communicate non-verbally with their visual style?

Customer Perception
Do your materials stand out in the competitive environment?
What is the number one take-away a consumer gets from your brand?

When you have explored these two sides, the goal is to identify if there is a gap between what you want to say about your company and what you are actually saying.  This is why is it important to approach the audit with an open mind and fresh eyes observing your materials as your target audience would. Try to remain as objective as possible, there are no egos in a brand audit!

What results can one expect from a Brand Audit?
In our experience a brand audit often results in new insights about the brand, the design, marketing, and communication challenges that need to be overcome moving forward. In the Figment Brand Audit for example, the team identified an internal misunderstanding on how the logo should be used as well as a need for a style guidelines manual and templates so that consistent materials could be produced by each of the brands five locations.

Typical results and next steps following a Brand Audit may include:
Market and customer research to explore the findings further
A marketing plan to address the communication gap
A redesign of materials that are not inline with the overall goals
Development of an overall campaign to reposition the brand’s message across all media
Revised style guidelines