“Brands should think of themselves not as storytellers but storybuilders. We plant seeds of content and let our community build on it.”
– Amy Pascal of Sony Pictures Entertainment
Is my brand both healthy and effective? Do the core values behind my brand speak to who I am as a community owner or entrepreneur? Evaluating the key components of your brand is absolutely essential when it comes to creating and maintaining your brand presence. This is achieved by conducting periodic branding audits that look deep into the make-up, strategy, and impact of your brand.
So, let’s talk about what those key elements are and how you can examine them.
Having a clear brand identity is huge and without question the most important component when auditing your overall brand. What does my logo really say about my business or me as an entrepreneur? Does it speak to the credibility of what my business is all about? Asking yourself questions like these can help you discover if your business stands out amongst the competition. When you look at the logo design, color template, and typography you utilize across your digital footprint think about the following aspects:
- Voice and Tone – what does your audience hear when it sees your brand?
- Imagery – what graphic elements do you use to identify your brand?
- Colors – should you use warm, cool, or pastel colors?
- Emotional connection – does your brand evoke emotion and attachment?
- Messaging – what does your brand identity say about your business?
BRAND CORE VALUES & MESSAGING
The core values of your brand are the fundamental beliefs that speak to what your company or community stands for. Those cornerstone principles that shape the culture and behavior of everything you do. Look at your core values from time to time to make sure they align properly and make you proud to embody them within your business. When thinking of core values for your brand it’s noteworthy to peer at the brand’s moral compass and be able to easily define what it stands for. Does your tagline give a genuine reflection or just eloquent words with no meaning?
If you haven’t already, create a value proposition. Develop a concise and compelling statement that communicates the unique benefits your brand provides to consumers. What is it that your brand offers really? Is it just smoke and mirrors or is there true substance there? Apparel brand Nike has a well-known and simple value proposition which states: “Just Do It”. It may be only three words in that slogan but it demonstratively speaks to personal empowerment and peak athletic performance!
Don’t forget about ensuring consistency across all communication channels when it comes to sharing brand core values and the messaging behind them.
How is your brand positioned within the competitive landscape we all find ourselves in? Are you correctly niched down when it comes to your target audience? Take a look at any competitors to observe what they are doing to position themselves. Select the appropriate communication channels to reach your audience in the most effective ways. Make sure all content put out in the digital world perfectly aligns with your core values and is purposefully consistent. Articulate your brand promises in such a way that your community or audience completely sees them as beneficial and can buy into what you are offering.
Why is it that Apple enthusiasts continue to buy a new iPhone year after year? Why do people of all ages continue to sport the sneakers of the Nike and Jordan brands? It’s because companies like these have superior brand equity. They create awareness, build loyalty, provide quality, and deliver excellence. They seek consumer confidence by being reliable and relevant.
Develop and build your brand equity by differentiating your brand from the competition. Maintain consistent branding and deliver a superior customer experience.
Who is it that you want to reach? Who is it that you want to help and inspire? Understanding just who your target audience is will prove invaluable when it comes to operating a successful business. This audience can change slightly as time moves forward, so it’s always good to audit the makeup of those you want following you on your journey.
Now, once you have figured out your target audience, it’s then you analyze your brand and check that it aligns with your audience’s needs and expectations. Is it resonating with your people and speaking to their pain points? Does the messaging on your website perfectly match your audience and what they aspire to be a part of?
Do surveys with your audience to find out if the dialogue between them and your brand is working cohesively and providing what they are searching for. Engage and interact often to test that your audience and brand are on the same page.
Your brand’s digital presence is another core element when doing the ultimate branding audit. Having an effective digital presence refers to your brand’s footprint across the internet and how your brand is interacting with your target audience. Is your brand noticeable on social media and other digital platforms? Are there pathways available to prospective customers to find out, interact with you, and buy what you are selling?
To achieve that undeniable digital presence, you should:
- Audit your website (up-to-date, relevant content, brilliant design)
- Strategize your SEO (optimize online content for ranking and credibility)
- Consistently deliver valuable content (blogs, videos, webinars, email campaigns)
- Provide resources that educate and elevate consumers
- Edit all social media accounts to reflect the same bios, links, about us, etc…
Content review, as part of a brand audit, involves a thorough examination of all the content associated with a brand. This content can occupy your website, online community channels & spaces, resource libraries, email marketing, and social media platforms. When reviewing your content portfolio, ask yourself these questions:
Is this content pertinent to my target audience?
Is the content up-to-date or old news that’s insignificant in today’s landscape?
Does the content provide value and offer solutions, tips, and tools for my audience’s needs?
Does the content inspire consumers to take a trip through the sales funnel?
Is this content engaging and creating interaction?
Is my content communicating through the latest technology available?
Does this content produce results? (subscriptions, follows, registrations, downloads)
Are your branding photos current and brilliant? If the answer is no, then get ready to take some new ones. Don’t be stuck with an outdated headshot photo from your high school yearbook! For community owners and solopreneurs, having beautiful photos of yourself and your team is so critical in this world of hypervisual imaging. Phone, tablet, and laptop manufacturers have instituted the most vibrant color and imaging technology on their displays and monitors. This is reason #1 to have really terrific photographs across your digital footprint.
What kind of branding photos should you consider?
- Headshots: this means YOU 🙂
- Team Pictures
- Photo Testimonials: Get nice photos of those who love your work!
- Community Images: ask for and get quality pics of your tribe
- Product Images
- Nature Shots: Snap photos outside in your environment in addition to indoor shots
Audits do sound scary when it comes to the IRS or accountants LOL. However, it’s imperative that you as a community owner and entrepreneur conduct a branding audit periodically.
In our community, Online Community Creators – the OCC, we are having a challenge for the month of December centered specifically on branding audits. At the same time, we are running a FREE Trial that gives registrants access for two weeks into our community if they sign up by December 1st. We would love for you to take a tour around the OCC!