In this rapidly shifting landscape, you’ve needed to make many changes to stay afloat. As the world moves from lockdowns to the new normal, it will be imperative for companies to keep changing.
All this change may make you a little reluctant to undertake any more change. A brand audit is a good example. You may feel that, in all this, your brand is the one thing that should remain unchanged. After all, the familiar may be comfortable or even reassuring.
You may need the brand audit now more than ever, though. As the world has changed so much, the brand messaging you were using may not resonate with your audiences. If you’ve had to make adjustments, that brand identity may not even reflect who you are or what your business does.
If you’re not sure you need a brand audit now, it can be helpful to watch for the common signs of branding mismatch. If you notice any of these situations in your business, then it’s high time to undertake a brand audit.
Your Brand No Longer Represents You
This is likely going to be the situation facing most businesses moving forward. Business leaders like you have had to make rapid-fire changes to how the business operates. Many are even changing what they do. Some have pivoted to meet needs spurred by the pandemic. Others are shifting to better align with what their customers are seeking.
It’s easy for branding identity and the reality of your company identity to drift apart. Brand drift often happens over the course of time anyway, so it’s possible that a business needed a brand audit even before the pandemic. In other cases, the shifting environment has caused brand drift to happen much faster.
In these cases, the brand messaging no longer reflects what the business is or does. This happens naturally over time. It can happen when businesses merge, divisions are sold or closed, or the business shifts focus. These shifts are happening faster and more frequently right now.
Your Customers Have Changed
This is another common catalyst for a brand audit. Different audiences have different needs, and over time, those needs change. As a business evolves, it may shift focus to target new audiences.
An obvious example is distilleries that shifted from the production of consumer beverages to hand sanitizer. While this move is temporary, the audience for the company’s products changed drastically. Healthcare workers are concerned about having proper personal protective equipment. The messaging around the company’s products must change. Their brand identity needs to reflect the values that led to shift.
Many businesses undergo subtle shifts in core customer demographics over time. This can be the result of a new product, the discovery of a new use for a product, or even a technological change.
When your audience changes, your branding needs to change as well. The messaging needs to be tailored to address audience concerns and show your values.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your core audience may not change, but the people within it may. A company developing an app aimed at college students has to refresh itself as people enter and exit this demographic. The company will always be marketing to “college students,” but who is in this audience will change. Each new cohort brings with them new ideas, new ideals, and new expectations.
If you decide to target a particular generation, such as “millennials,” it’s important to remember the concerns of this audience will change. Millennials are now buying houses, having families, and moving up the ladder at work. In ten years, they’ll be concerned about college funds for their kids and retirement savings. Your brand will need to evolve to address their evolving concerns.
A brand audit can help you spot disconnects between your messaging and your audience. What worked before may no longer be resonating, and that’s very true in the current environment. People’s expectations and needs have changed, and brands need to keep up.
You Have Doppelgangers
Are you constantly being confused for one of your competitors? Do people see your ads and attribute them to your biggest rival in the market? Have you ever had someone come into your shop and ask for your competitors’ products?
Brand confusion is a threat to businesses. There are a few root causes. One may be that your branding efforts haven’t been strong enough to set you apart from the crowd. Customers can’t tell you apart from your competitors.
Your competitors may actually be cloning your branding strategy. The market leader loses when others copy its branding, but competitors can benefit. Competitors may create similar packaging, use similar slogans, or even design ads with a certain look and feel.
A brand audit can identify where confusion exists in the market. It can also help you discover ways to set your business apart.
Your Business Has Grown Quickly
Some businesses have experienced rapid growth, despite the downturn. The current environment has caused a booming need for services such as virtual events and shipping. A small business may experience sudden growth.
This leads to a situation where it’s important for the business leaders to define or redefine the brand. A business that was growing slowly but steadily may not have needed to focus on brand identity just yet. With the influx of new customers, it’s imperative to develop a strong brand identity.
Why is this so crucial for a growing business? It helps these new customers develop a relationship with the business. It puts the business values and ideals out in the open, which allows customers to see how they align. In turn, they have a much better reason to stick around instead of defecting to the competition.
A strong brand identity can also guide the business forward. Growth is positive, but it can also cause plenty of bumps along the way. A strong brand identity gives you, your team members, and your customers a clearer vision of what the business is all about.
Find Out Where You Stand in the Market
In this time of great change, it’s important to have a barometer for where your brand is positioned in the market. A brand audit will help you discover how your customers perceive you, where you stand, and how you can forge a stronger brand identity in the coming months.
Ready to get started? Get in touch and let the experts guide you through the auditing process. With the right insights, you’ll be ready to envision a new future for your brand.