The harsh look in the mirror your business desperately needs
by Christopher Tompkins
Mr. Tompkins is founder and CEO of The Go! Agency, specializing in online marketing strategy. He is the author The Go Method: 22 Simple Steps to Creating a Social Media Strategy That Works! Visit https://gosalesandmarketing.com.
You’re sitting there, trying to figure out why the business you’ve invested blood, sweat, and tears (and lots of money) into just doesn’t feel like it’s working anymore. Some of the shine has faded, customers are less enthused and so are you. Well, your business is probably fine; it’s your brand that needs some maintenance.
A brand audit is a detailed analysis of how your brand is performing, based on criteria that you set. Want to evaluate how your brand is doing in the marketplace? Perform an audit to measure your brand against its competition. The metric you use to perform your audit are entirely based on what you want to know about your brand.
There are a million articles out there telling you how to conduct a brand audit: what elements to judge by, how to measure yourself against your competitors, what questions to ask you customers and what to do with their input. But once you have the results, where do you go next?
It can be tricky to implement a brand overhaul right after conducting research on what your competitors are doing. They have a podcast and a Twitter account that’s popping off, shouldn’t you have those too? Maybe, but be careful.
To put it simply: customers shop either at big box stores and specialty retailers. Unless you’re a niche company, your audience is going to have some familiarity with the competition. So, if you coincidentally start a YouTube channel just a few months after they did, it’s going to be pretty transparent what you’re doing.
Now, should you not start a YouTube channel or podcast just because they did? No. But make sure to remember the findings of your audit and don’t do the same thing they’re doing. Even if they provide an identical service, there are multiple ways to tackle the same subject.
Stay True to Yourself
It’s unlikely that the results of your brand audit will tell you to bin your whole company and start over. Have faith that, regardless of the weaknesses you might have uncovered, the foundation of your business is solid; it’s just the brand that needs some refreshing.
If you were on social media already, you developed a digital tone for your brand—a specific way you package your posts and respond to your audience. You should keep as much of this in tact as possible.
Think about this: if a brand you were following dramatically changed their logo and started posting memes, you would be put off. A brand refresh is about a series of little changes, not a sweeping overhaul. Redesign to match a modern aesthetic. Workshop a few of your posts to keep pace with a current trend. Add calls-to-action to the end of your content and spend time thinking of thoughtful replies when your audience comments.
Whatever it is you decide to do to re-spark interest in your brand, do one thing above all: commit to it. This means planning ahead and sticking to a schedule. If you’re starting a blog, write a month’s worth in advance and commit to posting every Monday at 10am. If you’re producing a podcast, have a few episodes in the can before you announce it.
Missing video dates or going weeks between blog entries works for two types of people: amateurs and those who have a million other projects going on. Having posts or videos in the bank before you announce your new venture is great two-fold: you give yourself lead time to develop the next entries and have leg room to account for burn-out or correct a post or video that just isn’t working. This is the measure you’re taking to increase the visibility and engagement of the brand; it’s an investment, not a hobby.
A brand audit is a necessary part of heading up a business, since your brand is what connects you to your mom valuable resource: your customers. But the audit isn’t the end of the line, it’s the prelude to the journey.
The data you get from your audit can be used in any number of ways. You know your business, you know what you can do well and what paths might be out of your reach for right now. Ultimately, the way you decide to implement the findings of your audit are in your hands, but the information laid out in this article is invaluable no matter what avenue you decide to take. Don’t copy your competitors, find a better way to only that information. Commit to your changes, treat your them like an investment and a crucial part of your brand. And finally, always remain true to the core of your business, a brand refresh doesn’t mean an overhaul.