It’s rare that a business takes the time to evaluate their branding strategies to analyze the efficacy.
Business is competitive in any industry or ecosystem, and if your organization’s strategy is missing the mark, there’s a lot of work to do because you’re leaving a massive amount of opportunity on the table for your competitors to grab.
The central goal of any business should be to create a perception of the business that resonates with the target audience.
This can be difficult and time consuming.
Strategists had to simply pick a nice company name, a catchy slogan, and some graphics that indicated what the business is about.
Branding today is much different.
The simplicity of yesteryear has given way to a complex, multi-dimensional effort to create a perception of your company with target customers.
No longer is branding a fixed staple in a company’s assets, it’s now a constantly moving target.
This means your organization must now adapt and evolve with the rapidly changing behaviors of the modern consumer. Branding has become an active effort to create a mental picture of your organization in the minds of your target customer.
Here are the ways you can evaluate your business’ brand:
1. Create a framework
Take a deep dive into your organization’s mission and strategic objectives to create an evaluation framework.
You’ll want to proceed with your target customers, the marketing plan you have to reach them, and the layout of the business ecosystem of your industry front and center in your mind.
Some organizations may want to refer to their go-to market strategy. This document includes the internal plan that specifies target market including demographic information, the entire product catalog, distribution channels, partnerships, competitors, and pricing.
2. Review the data
The vast majority of people shopping online conduct thorough research before they make a purchase. This being the case, starting with your site’s traffic analytics is a good place to begin digging deep into your brand.
Monitoring all channels: paid and organic is the best way to whether search engine optimization (SEO) or pay per click (PPC) is working for your organization or if it needs optimization. You can also dig deeper and check if your traffic demographics match those of your target market.
At this point, it’s important that you review which channels are driving traffic.
In other words, having channel diversification is important. It allows you to defend your site against any sudden drops in one area. Having an over-reliance on organic traffic could unravel a site after a single Google algorithm update.
Social data also helps organizations add another dimension of analysis when looking at the big picture of their brand. This gives organizations access to data about their customers that is unattainable through other channels.
Social media offers rich demographic information that allows you to better understand your audience. Be prepared to re-position your messaging if your real audience differs from your perceived audience.
Conversions and conversion rates should be regularly monitored and analyzed as part of a bigger picture audit as this will tell you if you’re successfully attracting the right kind of traffic and what types of content work for your goals.
3. Competitor analysis
There is not a single brand in existence that exists in isolation. The final thing you should do when conducting a brand audit is to take a deep look at your competitors to understand your position in your market against the other players in your ecosystem.
You can find an entire library of competitor analysis tools that will do the heavy lifting for you. These tools will give you SEO, rankings, backlinks, content, adverts, traffic, emails, and price tracking to investigate during your analysis.
Earlier, we talked about covering social data to enrich your analytics capabilities and further flesh out the demographics of your target market and the same analysis can be done on your competitors. This data is not gated in the same ways that other data is and can help enrich your efforts to understand where you’re at.
4. Take it to the source
While it’s easy to rely on web and social analytics, but this doesn’t paint the full picture. Conducting surveys by telephone, email, on your website or as part of the sales process will give you further insight into your real customer base.
What you’ll get in return is a mixture of quantitative and qualitative feedback that provides a more holistic view. Understanding the customer experience you provide at each touch point will be a vital part of your audit. There’s plenty of data available to your organization, having real customer stories helps humanize the efforts behind your audit and provide a real-world idea as to how people perceive your brand.
This can also open your eyes to problems or answers to questions that data just can’t explain. Things like rating the customer service experience or why someone picked your brand over a close competitor can’t be qualified through data sets- you need real connections with your customer base to get that information.
5. Be prepared to take action
When you complete your brand audit, you should have areas where you can take action highlighted and ready to go. Your detailed findings should be followed by a series of actionable targets with a timeline of expected results. Once you’ve taken action on each area, monitor progress and results.
Having a consistent, ongoing process of measurement will help you stay focused and be able to quickly judge if you’re hitting targets or not.
Moving forward, it’s important to keep in mind that your organization’s ecosystem is constantly evolving and will continue to change. Brands need to be prepared to continually update and innovate to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.
Brands can’t rely on simple branding anymore
The business landscape is changing. No longer can brands remain complacent and reliant on simple branding and basic marketing.
Organizations need to be prepared to constantly be shifting and evolving with their customer base. Working in tandem with your real target market and listening to the things that matter to them on multiple levels will help you win market share over the long term.
This guest blog article was written by Kristen Bowie, who is marketing obsessed and an advocate for the knowledge economy. When she’s not writing for Qwilr, she’s hanging out with her two goats and painting.