“I used to be with ‘it,’” Grandpa tells his teenage son Homer in a 1970s flashback to his younger days after catching his son and a friend rocking out to a record he found particularly detestable. “But then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it’ anymore, and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.”
Then, as the shot tightens for a haunting emphasis, Abe says, “It’ll happen to you.”
Scary, right? And while many may dispute that one can’t “stay with ‘it’” as they get older, it’s often, let’s face it, an undertaking that requires a degree of conscious effort and planning.
In many ways, Abe describes an existential struggle familiar to many brands too: Without performing regular, well-executed brand assessments, your instincts and approach can become out of touch, irrelevant, and ultimately forgettable to the contemporary consumer.
Take a closer look at the concept of brand assessments: what they are, why and when they’re important, and crucial first steps to consider when undergoing your own analysis.
What Is A Brand Assessment?
In ecommerce, a brand assessment refers to the process of a systematic evaluation of your brand’s identity, performance, and customers, as well as an analysis of marketplace perceptions concerning both you and your competitors. You may hear others refer to this process as a brand audit.
A brand assessment allows companies to:
- Take a bird’s-eye view of their assets, channels, and stakeholder attitudes.
- Determine which parts of campaigns are working well.
- Identify improvement areas to optimize performance.
- Ensure that content library and messaging remain consistent throughout campaigns.
- Provide a seamless experience for customers as they engage with each digital touch point.
The assessment is ultimately aimed at identifying wins and losses and providing actionable metrics and insights that will allow the company to develop its vision and inform its goals moving forward.
Why Are Brand Assessments Important?
While some benefits may seem obvious — checking and improving your work is always a good thing! — here are some other benefits that might not immediately come to mind.
Clarify, Strengthen, and Align Brand Strategy Throughout Your Organization
While your brand assessment will include a hard look at “the big picture,” it should also entail an asset-by-asset review of your content library at the atomic level. This is an undertaking that your team and other stakeholders should undergo in order to tweak your messaging for consistency in voice, customer targeting, relevance, and more along each potential customer touch point.
The campaign will not only help align your brand with customer-facing content, but inform and refine your organization’s own understanding of its brand’s goals and vision.
Provide a Fuller Understanding of Your Customer’s Needs and Pain Points
Brands should also audit their customers’ content, including the general feedback, reviews, and social feedback they may leave about the organization and its products in their respective channels.
An effective brand assessment should include analyzing what customers think about your brand — on all ends of the emotional spectrum. Why do they love, hate, or fail to have any strong feelings about your brand?
From there, you’ll have a much clearer perspective on how to address your failings with customers (not to mention leaning into the wins).
Identify Emerging Threats — and Opportunities — From Competitors
Brand assessments can often unearth uncomfortable facts you need to face about the efficacy of your work. This includes an objective assessment of what your competitors do better — and yes, worse — than you.
While it’s easy to fall into the trap of resenting your competition, keeping a close eye on where they’re succeeding can help you identify threats, as well as hidden opportunities lurking in the midst. That includes things like certain keywords on which they may outperform you, channels where they massively outrank you, or other ways they’re finding transactions where you’re not.
Generate Actionable Data For Future Goal Posts
A thorough brand assessment should also empower your team to develop trackable metrics that can be later used as guiding key performance indicators (KPIs) for future campaigns and other messaging. Make sure to look closely at data related to factors like brand sentiment, customer satisfaction, and your website performance (e.g., bounce rate, conversion rate, and repeat purchases).
When Should We Conduct a Brand Assessment?
Healthy brands should plan on conducting brand assessments, at least once every one to three years depending on the size of the company and the extent of its marketing efforts, as well as during the below scenarios.
When Launching New Products or a New Brand
If you’re launching a new product or taking your brand in an entirely new direction, you’ll want to make sure your touch points don’t end up confusing your customer. Ensure everything is up to date and that your messaging is aligned with your present vision for the brand.
When Targeting New Markets
This is especially true in the case of a merger or acquisition with another brand, but it makes sense in the case of almost any such expansion: You’ll want to make sure that your content remains relevant and consistent to your target audience, leaving behind or tweaking any legacy media that might not fit in your new campaign.
A Decline in Sales or Other Important KPIs
If your organization is seeing a drop in sales or another red flag in its metrics, it may be time for a brand assessment to address any problems that may be placing obstacles between your customers and their cart.
6 Steps for Learning How To Assess Brand Health
1. Determine What You’re Hoping To Get Out Of It
Give your audit a sharper focus by determining a few critical brand assessment questions you’d like to answer while undertaking the review.
Don’t overthink: It can be as simple as “setting benchmarks for social reach” or “learning more about what our customers need from us.” Just make sure you have some kind of overarching vision for your project, and organize it around those fundamental points.
2. Define Your Brand, Its Assets, and Objectives
Collect, organize, and evaluate your brand’s assets from A to Z. Designate a few team members and stakeholders to review each piece in your content library for important considerations: consistency with brand messaging, relevance, or other updates that may be necessary as your brand evolves and adapts to market forces. Also, identify any major corrections in a style that may need to be applied throughout your body of content, and use this opportunity to implement them.
3. Identify and Get To Know Your Target Audience
Take a look at the kinds of people who are buying your products, why they’re using your products, and how they’re using your products.
Once you understand the major reasons customers both love and hate your brand, you’ll be much better equipped to engage them meaningfully across all of your channels. Successfully address their pain points and start tracking metrics to improve your conversions and retention.
4. Turn Your Focus Inward
Your brand is a lot more than just your content and products — as they say, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” Make sure you consult with your team and other relevant stakeholders to determine areas of improvement while gathering other important insights about how you can improve your brand and marketing operations. This can also be a great way to reinforce your brand’s vision throughout the organization.
5. Take an Omnichannel Approach
A bird’s-eye view is also an omnichannel one: Make sure you’re taking a close look at how each of your assets performs across all of your channels and that each of these touch points is optimized for their respective platform’s best practices. This will also allow you to identify the channels where your brand is performing best, along with areas that might be opportunities for improvement.
While you won’t need to schedule a brand audit as frequently as your dental cleanings (every six months!), remember that effective brand audits are never “one and done” — this is an ongoing cycle that successful brands will need to engage again and again.
Is It Time To Take Your Brand in For a Check Up?
Unlike Abe Simpson’s terrifying prophecy, you don’t have to let it happen to you.
Brand assessments are one of the most important tools in the marketer’s playbook: It’s not only a great way to run a basic strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis across your content library and channels, but it can also help inform the way your company adapts to shifting customer and market changes over time.
Make sure that you keep up with the changing times, and your customers will make sure they keep up with you too.