Brand Review Basics – Part 1

What Is a Brand Review?

When was the last time you conducted a brand review? Every brand should be tracked on an ongoing basis, but a brand review (often called a brand audit) is a far more comprehensive analysis of every aspect of your brand that you can imagine. A thorough brand audit could take one month or six months depending on the size of the business and scope of the brand architecture. While few companies invest the time or money into a full brand review, this is the only real way to assess the health of a brand to ensure it’s positioned for success in the future. In my new series for AYTM, Brand Review Basics, you’ll learn what a brand audit is, how it can help your brand, and how to get started with your own review.

At its most basic level, a brand review is a thorough examination of a brand’s health at a specific moment in time. Just as you visit a doctor for a personal health check up or hire a financial auditor to review your company’s finances, every company needs help conducting a brand review. The reason is simple. A third party brand auditor brings an unbiased analysis to the table that the company can’t deliver itself.

The brand review is defined by Branding Strategy Insider as follows:

“A brand audit provides an analysis of an organization’s brand and its brand management and marketing effectiveness. It assesses a brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It identifies brand growth opportunities including those achieved by brand positioning and brand extension. The audit should result in recommendations to improve brand equity, brand positioning, and brand management and marketing effectiveness.”

I really like that definition because it covers so much that goes into a comprehensive brand review in just a few sentences. A brand review isn’t just an analysis of the brand identity elements and marketing tactics. It goes much deeper and identifies how the brand is integrated into the company at every level. From there, the review moves to an external analysis of competitors, customers, business partners, and so on. A full brand review analyzes all stakeholders’ relationships with the brand.

The one thing I’d add to the definition above is a reference to time-sensitivity. A brand review assesses a brand at a given moment in time. The results show you where your brand is on its lifecycle roadmap. By comparing the brand’s location on that roadmap to your long-term brand and business goals, you can identify whether your brand is on the right track, needs to be revitalized, or needs to be completely rebranded. You can also identify smaller pieces of the puzzle that need to be tweaked such as departmental adjustments or marketing message revamping.

Brand Review Benefits

Ultimately, a brand review provides you with a lot of information that you can use to answer questions and plan your brand strategy for the future. The benefits are numerous and far-reaching. For example, a brand review enables you to identify opportunities and threats related to:

If any of the above areas of a business are not effectively aligned with brand values, then brand equity suffers. A brand review will identify any areas of a business that are misaligned with the brand and get them back on track. Alternately, the brand review might uncover problems with the brand that need to be re-aligned with the business and consumers. Either outcome is fine, as long as the business does the brand review and follows up on the findings from that review.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Brand Review Basics series where you’ll learn about the secondary research you should conduct as part of a brand review.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Gunelius
Susan Gunelius, MBA is a 25-year marketing and branding expert and President and CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She is the author of 10 books about marketing, branding and social media, and her marketing-related articles appear on top media websites such as Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com. She is also the Founder and Editor in Chief of WomenOnBusiness.com, an award-winning blog for business women.