If you’d like to experience the brand audit in audio form, check out Episode 137 of the How to Change the World Podcast.
At Javelina, when we work with our clients to build powerful branding that brings their stories to life, we start with a brand audit. We take a look at everything that’s already happening, everything that already exists, and we assess areas of strength, areas for opportunity, and build a tailored and prioritized plan of action.
We know that a powerful brand is crucial if you want to change the world. Today, we’re sharing our step-by-step guide to auditing your brand – in 30 minutes or less. Once you’re finished with this blog, you’ll have a new understanding of where your organization’s brand is the strongest, where you have room to grow, and a sense of what to do next.
You’ll want to break out your pen and paper.
A powerful brand
Before we dive into the audit, let’s talk about what makes a powerful brand, and how it differs from powerful marketing. While marketing is developed by looking externally, at your target audiences, and should change based on who you’re engaging with, your brand is what comes to mind when somebody thinks of your organization. Your brand is developed by looking internally. It is who you are at your core, a summation of your organizational DNA. A powerful brand is:
- recorded/written down,
- and reflective of your driving purpose.
Let’s get into the audit!
Your 30-minute brand audit
We’ll run through five key questions together. For each question, you’ll score your brand according to the following:
- If your answer is “definitely yes, without a shadow of a doubt,” give yourself 2 points.
- If the answer is “kind of, sort of, not sure,” give yourself 1 point.
- If the answer is “nope, definitely not,” give yourself 0 points.
Question #1: Do you have a documented vision or purpose that everyone on the team knows?
The terms vision and purpose are often used interchangeably – here I mean a statement about the ideal situation that you want to create in a world, and why it matters. It should be forward-looking and aspirational, and most importantly, meaningfully referred to. It cannot live and die on your website alone, but it should be talked about in meetings, in hiring and firing, in regular conversation – a guiding compass for your work.
Question #2: Are you communicating with your why first?
Is your vision or purpose (why you do the work) at the forefront of everything you do and say, internally and externally? When someone asks what your organization is all about, do you lead with that purpose? It can feel clunky, but there is real value in leading with your why, as it will always resonate with people more powerfully than a description of what your day-to-day work is.
Question #3: Do you have some sort of document that captures your basic brand story?
Your brand story is the overarching story that you’re always telling about your work and your impact. A great example is Microsoft. Most every form of Microsoft advertising tells a story about a customer, whether they are a Fortune 500 company or a lone freelancer, achieving their goal because they used a Microsoft product.
“Because we supply you with fantastic products, you can achieve whatever your goal is.”
Every organization should have a consistent story documented, even a very simple one, to guide your language and communications. Test it out: ask your staff or board to write down one sentence that describes what your organization does. If you get consistent answers, that’s a great sign – give yourself a 2! If they’re wildly different answers, then give yourself a 0.
Question #4: Is your visual identity an accurate reflection of your purpose? Is it consistent across all platforms and all materials? Is it documented?
If your purpose as an organization is to create harmony and equity for everybody, and your logo and color palette is all hard edges and blacks and reds, that visual identity wouldn’t be a good match! If your visual branding looks different on your website than it does on social media, there may be an issue with consistency. If there’s no resource for your team to reference in their visual work, you may be in need of a brand book.
Question #5: Is your organization’s name a unique differentiator? Is it reflective of your purpose?
Here’s a hint – if most people refer to your organization by an acronym, it is not a unique differentiator. A great name will support a brand both by standing out from the crowd and evoking the brand’s unique character and purpose. Here’s an easy test: if you can easily explain to someone how your name reflects your purpose, you’re in good shape.
Where you’re at now
You made it! You should have ended with a score somewhere between 0 and 10. Your overall score gives you a sense of how strong your brand is, and your lowest-scoring areas give you a sense of where you have room to grow and opportunity to build a more powerful brand. Here’s a good sense of your general position:
0-3: Your brand has lots of opportunity to grow. But don’t feel bad! This doesn’t mean you’re failing – plenty of organizations are here. Start with developing or strengthening your purpose. We’d invite you to check out The Power of a Purpose, a quick guide to developing the most powerful purpose statement for your brand.
4-7: Most organizations are here. You’re in good company. Start with your weakest area, but remember that a strong purpose always comes first. Javelina has written guides and informational articles in our blog about all of these areas, but if you have questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org – and I’ll be more than happy to point you in the right direction.
8-10: This is a fantastic position to be in! That said, the work is never really done. We’d invite you to work on strengthening your weakest areas, and ensure your marketing plan is serving your brand effectively.
And as always, I would be honored to work with you in any of these areas. I love working with organizations to identify opportunities for their brand, and if you’d like to talk or have questions about building a powerful brand, please feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com.