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How to perform a brand audit

07 August 2019, at 9:00am

Is your business branding making the right impression?

A brand audit is a way to run a diagnosis of your business branding, to assess strengths and weaknesses and review your position in the local marketplace. Your brand is one of your biggest assets, which means it must be cultivated and monitored. By running an audit, you will be able to check that all your marketing messages are aligned with your brand strategy, enabling you to really clarify your message and create your annual marketing plan with your brand at its core.

An outside marketing company could be hired to conduct a brand audit for you, or you can do much of it yourself. It is time consuming, but however you choose to do it, it is always a highly valuable exercise for the whole team. The key findings from the audit should be turned into a detailed action plan for the team to execute.

A brand audit should cover three areas:

  1. Internal branding – your brand values, mission and company culture.
  2. External branding – your logo, print and online advertising and marketing materials, public relations, website, social media presence and digital marketing.
  3. Customer experience – your waiting rooms and clinic, customer support and customer service policies.

Consider internal branding

Since last month’s article, hopefully you have held a branding meeting and identified your business’s mission, vision and unique selling points. If you haven’t already, start by reviewing your company’s vision and goals. Who are your target customers and what does your brand message promise them? Clarify what you think your brand is before evaluating what others think. This can be used as a basis to decide if your current brand and marketing communications convey the right messages to the right audience.

Assess you external branding

This might take a while but is very useful. Make three checklists: printed materials, digital marketing and staff materials. Then on a separate checklist, carry out a digital marketing audit by evaluating your online presence on Google Business Pages, your practice website, your pet health club email messages and newsletters and social media profiles.

Are all of these elements consistent in terms of design, colour and tone of voice? Does your personality come across in the tone and style of your design and copy?

Branding matters not only for your external customers, but for your staff as well. Have a look through all your employee recruitment ads, education and training materials and check that you are communicating your message in a way that resonates with the sort of staff you want to attract and retain. Do your communications immediately convey a clear reason to choose your company, or do they look and sound just like those of your competition?

Consider the customer experience

This is where you evaluate what is known as the “customer journey”. Carry out an audit of the clinic waiting room, car-park, answerphone message, uniforms and staff training, and assess whether these things align with the general “feel” (happy, professional, technical, holistic, etc) that you are trying to achieve as part of your branding.

Go around your building looking at everything; imagine yourself as a customer visiting your clinic for the first time. From the first phone call to book an appointment to the flowerpots in the carpark, it’s all part of your brand.

Consider doing a clinic audit once a month to keep on top of things to check that you are delivering on the brand promise you have made to your customers. Staff training is the key to success here; consistent regular workshops and training events help reinforce your message with your team and ensure they are the best ambassadors for the brand.

Review the results

Using the information gathered from the audit, document what aspects of your brand are working, which need some fine-tuning and which are missing the mark entirely. Then create an action plan for updating things to bring them in line with your brand mission and vision. To help make things easier, prioritise your goals: what can realistically be accomplished in the next year? Of those goals that can be accomplished more quickly, which will have the greatest return on investment?

Monitor your progress

As you complete each element of your brand update, review the results to ensure the changes have the desired effect. Brands naturally become a bit stale over time, so repeating your brand audit every few years will help ensure that you keep your brand fresh and your business one step ahead of your competitors.

Will Stirling is a freelance marketing consultant who has worked in small animal practice marketing for over a decade, consulting on marketing strategy. He now spends his time helping independent veterinary clinics to grow and thrive.

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