A brand audit is essentially a health check that allows you to look at where your business is at and check in on where you’re currently positioned within your industry. The benefits of auditing your own brand are ‘multi-layered’ but the main purpose is to give yourself time to reflect on what’s working currently and to look at where tweaks and changes can be made.
Many business owners will pay thousands of pounds for an agency to audit their brand but it’s entirely possible to do it yourself providing you have the clear headspace to get it done (oh, and also accept that it might raise some challenging questions.) Nothing is ever easy when it comes to running your own creative business, but allowing yourself time to consider where you’re currently positioned in relation to your competitors is super important. Burying our heads in the sand will never allow us to move forward or achieve our goals, so auditing your current brand is pretty much essential.
Step one in auditing your own brand is to revisit the sole purpose of your creative business.
What was your original mission and has this now changed?
Are you still working with the people you’d set out to work with or are you attracting an audience that is way off track? BE HONEST.
This step is about going back to the reason you are motivated to do the thing you do and WHY you do it. It might be that your intentions have now changed or you’re offering a whole new service that has led you down a different path.
A really important aspect at this stage is to also evaluate how well your social media is working for you and whether you’re attracting your kind of people here.
Are you investing too much time on one platform that isn’t actually serving you?
Do you know where your clients are finding you?
Is it time to also try new avenues rather than being entirely reliant on a platform that actually drives no traffic to your business?
Attracting the right folk to you takes time and commitment. You might already be working with an audience that lights you up but more often than not you’ll need to continually market yourself in order to bring new clients to you. If you have the opportunity to get out there and collaborate, ask this community if they know about you and what you do.
If a new enquiry lands, where did they find you?
If a message appears in your DM’s, is it obvious that they know what you offer or are they asking questions that you thought you’d answered?
Do you have a network of people to share ideas and discuss what’s happening within your industry right now?
Are you collaborating with others to push your brand forward and raise your visibility?
If you have people working with you in your creative business, then it’s really important to do this audit with them and open up a conversation about where they feel the brand is currently positioned. This is a time to be really honest as a team and to express any worries (and wins!)
Toby and I regularly sit down and discuss what’s working and what isn’t and how we can be the best at what we do. This often leads to a bit of an action plan that outlines goals and next steps. A big job but well worthwhile.
And usually, there’s a ‘beverage’ at the end of it.
If you don’t ask you’ll never know. The most valuable information you can ever receive about your own brand is by asking the very people you’ve worked with. The best way to do this is through online surveys, quick polls, and Q&As on your Instagram. If there’s something you’re not clear on, then go out and ask those who’ve worked with you or who might be enticed to work with you in the future. Ask them:
What do you think my brand stands for?
What values do I display?
What is my business all about?
Who do I work with?
What services do I offer?
How can I help you?
What do you need from me?
Another great way to know how your brand is currently positioned is to go through your previous testimonials. Do the reviews you receive mirror your brand messages?
What do we mean by this?
If you’re looking to portray yourself as a nurturing, welcoming, and friendly brand, are your clients using these words in their testimonials?
Your brand identity covers all the visual elements that you use to market your business. This will include your logos, brand stationery, promotional materials, and all the other bits and pieces that you use when interacting with your clients. Take a good look at these aspects and ask yourself whether your brand identity is cohesive across all platforms.
Are you using a consistent brand font, colour palette, social media template, pattern, brand style guide and brand voice?
Why does this matter?
At every touch point of your business, your audience needs to know it’s you that’s talking to them. They need to feel reassured and confident that the way you’re showing up on your Instagram feed is the same way you’re showing up on your website, in your newsletters, and in every single place you can be found.
We don’t want that.
It might also be that your brand identity is no longer attracting the people you want to work with and isn’t conveying the right message. If so, there can be a tendency to start tweaking elements of this yourself; adding a colour here, changing a font there. Eventually though, this will only dilute the strength of your brand and it might be time to work with a professional brand studio to really nail down your visuals.
The next step in auditing your own brand is to go in and say hi to your website. When was the last time you looked at where your traffic is coming from and how people are interacting with your website? Google Analytics has a whole mine of information which can be incredibly enlightening but don’t forget about Google Search Console too. This handy tool will allow you to monitor and optimise your search performance and if new issues are found on your site, you’ll receive an email to let you know.
When you’ve had a look through this data go back and also check that your website is up to date. You can find loads of info here about nurturing your website and how to keep it clean and fresh.
A site left unloved is basically a dead site and there’s just no point having it!
Looking at what your competitors are doing is not about ‘copying’ or trying to sell yourself as something you’re not. It’s also important not to confuse this with comparisonitis or getting frustrated that others seem to be doing everything ‘better’ than you.
Instead, this aspect encourages you to get to know your industry inside out and be honest about whether you’re offering the best possible service YOU can, in the way YOU do it.
Is it time to take your brand to the next level and position yourself in a way that aligns you higher up the food chain?
Are you simply ‘coasting’ along but not really taking your business to the next stage?
There will always be a million and one people out there who are ready to do this so it’s always worthwhile checking in to see if there are new services you can offer or new ways of doing things.
Once you’ve gathered all the info from your audit, it’s time to pull it all together and decide what you’re going to do with it.
Which aspects do you need to work on?
Which bits are missing the mark?
Where are the gaps?
Are there any elements that aren’t aligning?
Use all the information to then create an action plan which is broken down into small actionable chunks.
An annual brand audit will allow you to stay on top of your business, re-evaluate where you’re positioned and action your next steps. It will also allow you to view your business in new ways and check in on whether the thing you’d set out to do is actually the thing you’re doing.
We have lots more advice and guidance about how to make sure your brand is working for you on our The Bonny and Clyde Design Studio blog pages so have a wander through some of our previous posts. You can also contact us if you’d like to chat about our brand, web design, and mentoring services for creatives like you.
See you soon!