Newtown Square • Philadelphia • Detroit • Cincinnati • Sacramento • Rochester • Willow Grove • Orlando • Buffalo • Chicago
A company’s brand is what sets it apart from the competition. It’s as individual as a person’s body and mind. And a brand assessment — also called a brand audit — is not unlike a standard health exam, a vital part of routine conditioning and maintenance that allows companies to check their vitals and make adjustments to their established patterns of behaviors so that they function at capacity and are able to live up to their full potential. When properly conducted, a brand assessment provides valuable data that highlights a business’s strengths and weaknesses; identifies possible problems for the future; and provides insight into the comprehensive health of the company (especially when based on comparisons to those around it). Although brand assessments don’t necessarily have to be scheduled quite as often as medical checkups (as in yearly), they should be administered long before any large problems are evident; periodically performing a brand assessment not only keeps a business aware of its overall state of health, it keeps its employees and shareholders engaged with customers, competitors and the market at large, enabling it to change company habits and processes when necessary and long before any threat renders lasting ill effects. Here is a list of five steps to performing a meaningful brand assessment:
As with all market research, a brand assessment requires you to know what you’re measuring and why. Consider your company’s mission and vision, your customers, your marketing plan, and the market as a whole so that you are able to define your brand and the message it strives to convey as you see it. Only then can you develop a strategy that allows you to measure others’ perceptions of it.
Go over your company’s assets and the facts and figures that point to how well (or not) your company is currently functioning. In addition to outlining your product/service line(s), organizational philosophy and other features that make your company unique, you should organize your company’s data points so that you are able to see patterns of business behavior and opportunities for change. Info such as web analytics, sales numbers, social media comments (and more) can tell you a lot about your brand’s appeal and shed light on your various audiences (including valuable demographic information on customers, the customer journey and consumers in general). And don’t forget to talk to your own employees and stakeholders. Their insight, along with concrete sales and marketing figures, can help you better understand your actual company culture, as well as your customers’ actual experiences, permitting you the opportunity to pinpoint opportunities for improvement.
Of course, a brand assessment depends on gathering external reactions to your company’s product(s) and brand messaging in order to be of any real value. Your brand isn’t simply what you want it to be; it’s what others think it is! Thus, to properly assess your brand you need to compare your version of it against the versions of others in the market: your customers, the competition, and consumers who may or may not ever become customers. Defining the message they associate with your brand and why they feel the way they do will allow you to modify your marketing materials, customer experiences, and even your products in ways that maximize your branding, builds loyalty, and, thus, increases your profitability. Use various market research tools to survey customers, potential customers, and competitors so you have the data you need to make meaningful analyses.
Step four is to analyze and act. The best brand assessment in the world can yield loads of important data points, but it’s useless without analysis and action. Review your findings, condense it into actionable goals and make a plan for implementing organizational change.
And remember: to maintain a healthy brand image, your company needs to conduct periodic brand assessments; one is never enough. Market trends and consumer behaviors are constantly changing. They must be monitored if your company wants to avoid getting into a situation where problems can’t be recognized, avoided, and/or ever fully remedied.
To learn more about brand assessments and how to use them to improve your ROI, please contact our team at Research America. We have decades of experience crafting market research studies and can help you design a brand assessment tool capable of providing relevant and actionable insight for your own unique goals.