brand strategyA brand audit can take many different forms depending on the client or company, but is a beneficial practice for any brand, no matter how big or small. Whether your brand is considering a rebrand, new website, insight into competition or just wanting a broad overview of their positioning, conducting a brand audit is a valuable exercise and often lays the foundation for larger projects.

What is a brand audit?

Generally speaking, a brand audit is a detailed analysis showing how your brand is performing compared to its stated goals. Taking a step back and looking at your brand through a different lens gives you the ability to see the wider landscape and to identify your strengths and opportunities. Customer surveys, social audits, and analyzing web analytics are all common practices that fall under the brand audit umbrella and give insight into your particular brand.

But how do you stand in comparison to the rest of the market? Is your brand missing something that others aren’t? Why is one consumer choosing the exact same product or service from someone else? These are questions that nearly all brands need to have answered in order to have a leg up against competition, and conducting a competitive audit can help address them.

Benefits of a competitive audit

Conducting a competitive audit is a foundational tactic to better understand what your competitors are doing and the threat they may pose to your brand. It also offers insights into who they are, their strategy, and what your brand may be missing out on. As all markets evolve and change, assessing your competition should be ongoing, and understanding the best practices in conducting a brand audit will save you time and money.

Best practices

There is a lot that goes into a competitive audit, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to conducting one. How in-depth and extensive yours will be depends on your brand and what you are hoping to achieve. That being said, there are three general steps in the approach:

  1. Identify your competitors

This step is particularly important if you are an outside vendor or agency. To understand the brand you are working with and its competitors, it is best to hear it straight from the client. Once you have a basic understanding of the market, conducting research simply through Google searches or other secondary research can help identify emerging or unidentified competition. If this is your product or service, you most likely have some idea of who your competition is already – so this step may not be as research-heavy for you. Regardless, it is a good practice to conduct a rudimentary search to be sure there are no surprises.

  1. Decide on applicable comparison categories

Choosing what areas of your competition to focus on varies. What is the end goal? How will this information be used (internally vs. externally)? It is important to first have these answers in order to tailor your categories to fit the insights you are hoping to gain. For example, if your brand is looking to change its website, you will want to home in on categories such as your competition’s site layout, the colors they use, navigation, what aspects of their product or service they highlight the most, etc.

  1. Analyze content

After deciding on your categories for comparison, it’s time to get to work and dig in to your competitor’s content. After you have filled in these categories, the final step is to synthesize these findings into insights that are applicable to your brand. Is there something that your competitors are doing that you’re not? Maybe they focus more on SEO than you do and are seeing success.

Once you are aware of the type and quality of content your competitors are creating, you will have a better idea of where your time and resources should go. After your audit is complete, you may have unearthed strengths or weaknesses that you were unaware of in the beginning. These insights will strengthen your strategy and should be carried throughout your work.

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