When you look up “brand audit” or “brand analysis in Google, you find tons of nonsense written by people who never did a proper brand analysis in their life. Entry-level brand consultants, self-proclaimed digital marketing gurus, and social media enthusiasts will tell you about various strange brand analysis methods. Most of those are trivial, obvious generalities, but some are downright nonsense that can even harm your brand.
Let’s see some of the most common theories.
Debunking popular, but useless brand evaluation methods
Before discussing the industry-standard brand audit framework that is used by Fortune 500 companies and leading brands around the globe, we need to address the typical analysis “methods” that you should not use for brand auditing. Here is why.
Basic digital marketing metrics provide very limited information. If your marketing campaign had 1,000,000 views, 10,000 clicks, and 1,000 conversions, then it means that you could only record 1% of the information. The 99% of information that you could not record is holding answers to lingering questions, like “why people did not engage with your brand”?
Optimizing based on 1% of the recorded information and 0.1% of people who converted seems like driving blindfolded, doesn’t it?
Social media analytics based brand analysis (don’t do this)
Reach, engagement, conversion, and view statistics cannot be used as a basis of a brand audit. The reason is simple: there are too many variables in each metric that can make the evaluation unreliable. First of all, social media is full of bots, fake accounts, and people who click accidentally while scrolling.
On Facebook, a “video view” is defined as a view of three seconds or more and will appear for all videos, including those that come to life as people scroll through News Feed. All advertising platforms will do their best to report the highest possible reach and engagement statistics, even if those are meaningless to your business.
Benchmarking social media reach and engagement against the stats of your competitors as a brand audit can be equally misleading.
Social media analytics are meant to evaluate social media performance and have little to no use for a brand audit.
Brand audit with Google Analytics stats (useless)
Some digital marketing experts claim that they can read out brand strength-related information from Google Analytics. It is true that some insights are highly indicative, but these do not answer brand-related questions.
Increased web traffic, especially from organic search can be a sign of a developing brand. But it will not tell you why more people started to visit your website, it will not reveal the emotional connection between your brand and website visitors and will definitely not tell how your visitors perceive your brand.
While certain metrics like bounce rate, session duration, and behavior-flow can indicate if your brand and customer experience are right or wrong, but they will not reveal:
- Why people stayed on your website?
- Why did they abandon your website?
- Why they did not return?
This is why Google Analytics is not a reliable brand analysis or brand auditing tool. But it was never even meant to be used for brand auditing.
Brand evaluation based on SEO performance (don’t bother)
Another popular, yet largely unreliable brand awareness evaluation method is analyzing search engine performance results. Similar to Google Analytics and other website stats, SEO figures can be indicative, but should not be used as the basis for brand auditing.
Trust flow, citation flow, Moz rank, and other SEO mathematics mean nothing to your potential customers or people in your target audience. What matters from a brand management perspective is to get more and more people exposed and connected to your brand. While search engines are an excellent channel to appear for your target customers, impressions, CTR and clicks tell very little about why people clicked on your SERP, and most importantly why not.
It is understood that optimizing search engine page results (SERP) will increase your click-through rate and get more traffic to your website, but once again this leaves too much space for assumptions.
SEO analytics is to measure search engine performance, and while impression stats can indicate the level of brand awareness, it is not to be used as a basis for brand audits or brand strength analysis.
Expert opinion, and “in-depth” brand analysis by an individual (don’t pay for it)
There are thousands of self-proclaimed brand experts out there, who will be happy to charge thousands of dollars for an essay about your brand. Despite the best intentions, such brand audits are practically useless. Why? The reason is simple.
Brand audits from a single expert will only reflect the opinion of one person. Unless she is a psychic, she won’t be able to relate to your brand, products, or services as your customers would.
Brand audits from branding and marketing consultants usually take lots of time to compile (which makes it expensive) and despite the years of experience and best efforts – these audits will not reflect what your true target customers might think about your brand.
Do a favor for yourself, as well for the dear brand consultant, and do not ask her for a brand audit. Ask your target customers about what they think about your brand. They know best.
The industry-standard brand audit method, that is used by the largest brands globally
If you ask any brand and marketing people in companies like Hilton, BMW, or Gucci, they will tell you that their brand management and brand evaluation strategy are based on continuous market research.
Market research is the only way to collect relevant real-world information regarding what potential customers like or dislike about a brand. These corporations have established data and feedback collection channels, getting in millions of feedback data daily.
The continuous brand analysis typically consists of:
- Brand awareness measurement – how many people know about the company?
- Brand perceptions measurement – what do people think about their brand, products, and other aspects?
- Marketing communications analysis – how do people in their target audience see their marketing efforts?
- Benchmarking against competitors – how do they perform compared to similar companies?
These are the most important questions a brand audit needs to answer, so the company can prepare informed decisions based on real-life information from its target audience.
Why most startups and small businesses don’t do market research-based brand audits?
For new, small, and growing companies, brand management is not always a priority. However, management teams of established small businesses would agree that having a recognized and popular brand is an important asset of their company.
As market research is expensive, time-consuming, and requires professionals who understand the methodology, the industry-standard way of brand evaluation is not an option for most businesses.
This is the reason why small business owners, startup marketers, and new entrepreneurs tend to get lured into alternative techniques we discussed before: trying to read brand insights out of social media, Google Analytics, or SEO scores.
Brand Auditor offers an industry-standard, affordable brand audit solution for startups and small businesses
Brand Auditor makes brand awareness and brand perceptions focused market research fast and affordable. During the auditing procedure, we will survey up to 1,000,000 people per segment to find out what percent of them are aware of your brand, and what do they think of it.
Our solution lets you accurately measure your brand awareness, popularity, and customer perceptions in various regions, benchmarked with other companies or competitors of your choice.
Leave basic web and social media statistics behind and upgrade your brand management with professional brand awareness measurement insights. Brand Auditor is trusted by Fortune 500 companies, tech startups, travel and hospitality brands, e-commerce stores, and SMEs in various industries worldwide.