Through effective branding, you can ensure that your product or service is front of mind when it comes to purchasing.
It will also help keep your competitors at bay as you’ll be rewarded with brand loyalty from your happy customers.
Maintaining your brand can often be tricky as time passes, the staff turns over and new suppliers are used. The beginning of the year is a great time to do a brand audit to see if you are still on track – and if not, put some measures in place to refocus.
Here are some quick tips on how you can do a brand audit in 5 easy steps.
1. Print and collateral
Gather your business cards, stationery, brochures, printed adverts and any other collateral that you might have, and place them on a table. Do they look like they belong to the same family? If the only thing that they have in common is that your logo appears on it – then you need to reassess what you’re doing. A style-guide with your company fonts, colours and formats will help streamline this and ensure that you don’t have a mismatch of material exposed to the world. A guide of this nature is not only good for all staff to refer to but it’s the perfect document to be able to pass on to creative services that you might use for design, web, photography or even copywriting.
It’s so easy these days to update your website, or to list your business on other websites. Make a list of all the sites that your business appears on – you’ll need to refer to this list every time something changes in the business. Check to see if the information and imagery is up to date. When last did you review your content? So much can happen in a year – services added, products removed, a change in your team or location. Now is the time to take a good look at your site to see if it needs updating. The web world moves at a ridiculously fast rate, which means that a site only 2-3 years old is already outdated and often cumbersome. If your website is not yet responsive – 2015 is the year to get your site mobile. Make sure that all colours, imagery and content matches your printed material.
3. Social media
With so many apps at our disposal it’s really easy to get caught up with fonts, photos and multiple filters and effects. If you have a hashtag that you trend on, take a look at your board and see if there is a connection between your content and your brand. If not, ditch it. Social media that uses inspiring quotes one day, illustrations the next and then stock images another will result in brand confusion. If your brand is controversial, then run your tweets and post accordingly, but if that’s not your brand, stay away from highly charged topics. You can always create a personal channel in which to voice your views. Just because social media is free does not mean you should act freely when promoting your brand. Think carefully before you post.
4. Tone and language
This is a highly underestimated part of a brand, but so vital. As new staff members join a team – some taking over the managing of the website, others on social media and perhaps others in marketing, you will find that the tone and language changes according g to the individual. Have a quick read of what you’ve got and ‘hear’ if there is a tone that’s consistent – as though spoken by one person. If not, address this by creating a guide on the tone, words and language so that all team members can follow it.
Do you utilise stock imagery, your own suite of photos, illustrations or type? Whatever you’ve decided to use, you need to make sure you’re consistent with their use. If you’re doing a special campaign make sure that visually your imagery relates back to the style of your brand. For example, if your imagery is very white and clean, then having a moody, dark background image will look totally out of place. Add a section to your style-guide dedicated to the handling and use of imagery.
Written by branding specialist Debbie O’Connor
Consultant, Strategist, Keynote Speaker