Brand Review Basics - Part 2

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Posted Jul 25, 2012
Susan Gunelius

Conducting Secondary Research

In Part 1 of the Brand Review Basics series, you learned what a brand review is and how conducting one can benefit your business. Now, it's time to dive in and learn what kind of secondary research a comprehensive brand review entails. Keep in mind, this secondary research is just one part of your brand review. You also need to conduct primary market research, so stay tuned for Parts 3 and 4 of this series to learn more about primary research. For now, let's talk secondary research and brand reviews.

What existing secondary sources do you have access to that can provide you with information related to your brand and stakeholders' relationships with that brand? Those sources are the heart of the secondary research you need to conduct as part of your brand review. The first step is to research from within, and gather data from your own company.

Internal Secondary Research

Naturally, you should analyze formal branding documents as part of your internal secondary research, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. You need to dig deep within the entire organization, not just the marketing department. Following is a list of some of the internal sources you should analyze as part of your internal brand audit secondary research. These sources provide a vast amount of background information about how the brand is managed internally on a company-wide basis:

Marketing, Media Relations, and Executive

  • Business plan
  • Marketing plan
  • Brand identity manual
  • Brand architecture, presence, and reach
  • Marketing creative (all campaigns)
  • Website and social media presence, monitoring, and reputation management procedures
  • Press releases
  • Executive speeches and communications
  • Company-wide stationery, invoices, etc.
  • Packaging
  • Marketing collateral
  • Media Kit

Finance and Investor Relations

  • Annual report
  • Investor meeting communications, announcements, etc.
  • Budget

Corporate Social Responsibility

  • Donations
  • Philanthropic activities
  • Specific charity involvement


  • Past, present, or pending lawsuits or legal concerns
  • Regulatory concerns
  • Trademark, copyright, and intellectual property dispute procedures

Human Resources

  • Hiring practices and communications
  • Training materials (all levels)
  • Recruitment techniques
  • Retention efforts and concerns
  • Departmental mission and vision statements
  • Departmental strategic plans and goals
  • Employee handbooks
  • Employee communications

The above lists aren't comprehensive, but they do give you an idea of the depth of secondary research that you should conduct throughout the entire organization to fully understand internal stakeholder relationships with the brand. Using this information, you can develop a picture of internal brand support (or lack thereof).

External Secondary Research

The next step of a brand review is to conduct external secondary research. You need to fully understand how your brand is positioned and perceived by external stakeholders such as vendors, business partners, suppliers, the media, consumers, and so on. Using secondary research sources, you can lay the groundwork for this part of your brand review. Following are a number of sources that are important to analyze during your secondary research:


  • Marketing materials, messages, packaging, ads, etc.
  • Brand architecture, presence, and reach
  • Press releases
  • Media kits
  • Annual reports and public financial information
  • Customer reviews
  • Websites, social media profiles, comments, and so on
  • Research findings
  • Other reports and publications
  • Trademarks and other intellectual property
  • Legal disputes

Industry and Media

  • Industry reports
  • News clippings
  • Event materials
  • Social media conversations, articles, and so on
  • Research data

Suppliers, Vendors, Distributors, and Other Business Partners

  • Communications
  • Reports
  • Reviews, comments and conversations
  • Research data

Again, the above lists are not comprehensive, but they give you a good idea of the type of information that is gathered from external sources during the secondary research part of a full brand review. Basically, any information you can get your hands on can only help you better understand where your brand stands right now. Don't just collect information that tells half the story. You need to understand the entire story before you can make intelligent decisions related to the future of your brand.

In Part 3 of the Brand Review Basics series, you'll learn about the internal primary research you should conduct as part of a comprehensive brand audit. If you missed Part 1 of the series, follow the preceding link to read it now.

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