Audit Your Brand’s Effectiveness In One Afternoon
3 guiding questions to turn your brand into one that provokes customer action.
If you’re a newer business, it’s likely that auditing your brand hasn’t been high on your priority list. Slapping a logo on your brand and having enough content to fill up your weekly channel drop may feel like it’s enough to have a working, effective brand. You may feel like things are in a good place because you’re putting content out there and saying something.
Having something to say without strong ROI or strategic intent behind it is in my opinion, a solid waste of time. It’s more important to say something that provokes a reaction, otherwise your time is better spent saying nothing at all.
Saying and doing a lot of things without seeing results is an easy default most new brands fall into, without realizing that if their content was great, it would trigger sales and conversions. Great branding provokes action — if it’s not, there’s likely room to grow within your brand.
Brand auditing may feel like a luxury that’s only available to those who have a budget for it. But with the right questions and strategy behind it, a brand audit can be done in an afternoon.
In my opinion, not auditing your brand is the worst disservice you can do for your business, especially as a new name that no one has heard before. If you’re a brand no one has ever heard of before, you don’t have years of name recognition, authority, or loyalty to ride off of in your customer acquisition efforts. All you have is your brand personality to make a connection and provoke intrigue in the audience you’re hoping to attract.
Great branding to me not only represents design, but also a brand’s personality, voice, and memorability — aspects of a brand that leave a lasting impression on a potential customer and entices them to return for when they’re ready to purchase. This fingerprint of the brand’s personality is to me, what new businesses need to intensely pay attention to in the beginning. It’s a sales asset for the entrepreneurs who are strategic enough to leverage it.
During a time when identity is everything socially, culturally, and politically, it’s no surprise that brand identity is at the forefront of consumers’ minds as well when considering a purchase.
Here are three questions to help audit your current brand’s effectiveness in an afternoon, and how to remedy your brand if it’s not at its best.
If you were to ask 5 people to describe your brand, would their answers be the same?
If you were to ask a room of friends what Apple does, it’s likely that everyone would have similar, if not the same answers. If you were to ask the same friends what the Federal Reserve does, I am pretty sure most people wouldn’t have an answer or have different things to say.
This is the difference between a brand that has curated a brand personality and one that has not — narrative agreement amongst audiences.
When your brand hasn’t curated a personality or intentional brand story, it makes it difficult for audiences who have heard about you to talk about you (and promote your brand for free). If you don’t have people talking about your brand and referring you to others, your brand becomes expensive to promote and spread its reach.
You can ask this question to different sets of people, which I think is helpful. For example, you can ask this question to potential leads who are newly exposed to your brand, leads who have been engaged with your brand’s marketing for a few months, and customers who have purchased from your brand.
This assessment gives you a good idea of how effective each channel of your marketing is in educating your audience on your brand’s story. It’s not only the burden of your initial lead generation channels to dispense a cohesive brand narrative for you, but the collective responsibility of all of your channels and phases after that to bring the narrative home.
If your brand had less than stellar results during this audit, I recommend that you take the following next steps:
- Arrive on a unique value proposition that can’t be confused for a competitor’s (if you have trouble arriving on this, ask yourself why your brand is different from your competitors 5 times — in other words ask yourself why 5 times, until you arrive at a description that feels unique to your brand).
- Take this unique value proposition and slap it everywhere — from your Instagram bio, to the headline of your home page, to the 1-liner you use during podcast interviews — make this unique value proposition a slogan that you repeat everywhere.
- Commit to repeating this unique value proposition consistently for about 6 months and test your audience again — ask 5 people to describe your brand again. Your results should be remarkably better, or reveal how and where you can improve.
Would your customers be friends?
When looking at who your customers are, is it clear that your customers would be friends with each other?
When your audience is filled with individuals who would ultimately be friends with each other, it’s a strong sign that you’re being cohesive and consistent in your messaging, and that you resonate with your target audience. People don’t rally in droves behind anything unless the messaging and purpose behind it is worth bonding over. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
It’s a strong sign that you have alignment in messaging and possess the fabric to create a community. And a strong community is exactly the foundation you need to build a successful business.
If it doesn’t seem like your customers would be friends with each other and for various reasons, it seems like their personalities and values would clash or that they would have trouble connecting, it’s a sign that your brand and messaging may be a mixed bag.
When your messaging is a mixed bag, your customers will end up being a mixed bag. You are reflected back exactly what you put out there branding-wise. The trouble with a mixed bag of customers is that it’s not a scalable foundation for you to build on. Rather than intimately understanding and community-building around one target customer, you have scattered knowledge about several different customer types and no foundational fan base to show for it.
You scale when you have an intimate understanding of a target customer and double down on growing your reach within that segment. You know where to find them, what makes them tick, and how to sell to them on a deep level. Without this depth of understanding, you don’t have the customer acquisition awareness (or formula) to grow your business in a meaningful way.
If you’d like to revisit your brand so that it’s built around a community that’s like-minded, and would be friends with each other, consider reflecting on these questions below. These questions help you reveal messaging and customer personality wisdom for your brand:
- Do you know your customer well enough to craft messaging that speaks to them? What do they care about? What values do they live by? What are their likes, dislikes?
- If your customer were to show up at a dinner party and had the stage to speak about your product or service, what are some of the strongest opinions they’d have? What specifically do they care and not care about when it comes to your product/service?
- If your customers were to state what they like most about each other, what would that be? Would it be their demeanor? Their conscious consumption patterns?
Do new website visitors remember who you are after one home page visit?
Similar to the first question presented at the beginning of this exercise, when a new person lands on your website, do they know what you do and why you’re different from your competitors after just one visit to your home page? Or do they perceive different summaries about what the home page says about your brand?
Beyond this, do website visitors understand what your philosophy and narrative are beyond a one-sentence description of what you do? Can they easily summarize what your products or services are, and the transformation it provides to its customers?
The majority of website visitors leave a brand’s home page after a few seconds of interaction either because 1) the brand isn’t a fit for their needs or 2) the home page’s copy isn’t articulating a meaningful narrative. If you don’t know how to talk about what you do succinctly and memorably, it’s likely that you’re losing potential customers due to a lack of communication and articulation about what your brand does.
With a lack of articulation, you aren’t giving your audience a chance to see how great your product or service is — you lose potential conversions before even showing them what you’re selling because you’ve bored them during your introduction.
To excel at this part of the exercise, you need to expand on your answers from the first exercise — specifically your unique value proposition, and add dimension to it:
- How does your customer relate to this unique value proposition from the stance of their pain points, desired end state, and the solutions they need to get from pain to desire?
- What philosophy and values does your brand have and how does it relate to your customer’s pain points and desired end state?
- What products and services do you sell and how does it link up to the pain point your customer needs solving and the desired transformation they’re looking to receive by purchasing?
I love writing thoughtful, personal Friday morning emails called The Crux to help entrepreneurs turn their startup chase into a victory lap. Join here to get my best musings in your inbox.