What Comes After the Brand Audit

May 30, 2014

Recently, we talked about the Brand Audit and how savvy marketers can use them to find out who they are. It’s a vital step of the branding process but most people are eager for what comes next; implementing some of the key lessons learned from the Brand Audit into our marketing strategy and execution. Here’s how our team does it for some key marketing initiatives.
Logo Design & Other Graphical Elements: Hands-down, my favorite logos are the ones we’ve done after brand research. Why? Because rather than someone’s opinion about how it feels, the logo instead is a true symbol of what we’ve learned through the research. If your brand resonates with a more mature audience or is more scholarly than the competition, a serif type-set might set you up as being more bookish. A brand that caters to the innocence of children (or the child in us all) may look for a style that appears more wide-eyed. And beyond the logo design itself, brand research can influence elements like a color palette. Some hues look better for companies concerned about the environment while others make sense for bolder in-your-face brands. It’s the brand research that will confirm if you’re on the right track.
Brand Voice: All brands rely on words to tell their stories. From websites to display advertising, the words we choose need to resonate entirely with who we’ve determined we are. Picture the word choices used on pharmaceutical websites compared to an websites. If you’re choosing the wrong voice, it won’t register correctly with the reader, but instead will be like the uncle who speaks out of turn at a party, where everyone thinks, “Do you believe what Uncle Fred said?” The reaction, many times, isn’t necessarily to the words but who was saying those words.
In many branding projects, we build brand appropriate “word banks” to build from based on the brand research. Imagine you’re a chewing gum brand. Whether or not your product tastes, “satisfying,” “mind-blowing,” or “fresh” is less a function of what ingredients are in the product and more so of what the brand is claiming to be, and your word choice should reflect that.
Brand Focus: One of the many lines marketers toss around that we believe is the one that goes, “You don’t own your brand. Your customers do.”
When we do a brand audit, we’re most concerned to see how the brand is perceived by employees compared to how it’s perceived by customers. In the end, there are usually some differences, and many of the companies we talk to ask us how to help customers to see their brand differently. Except in rare cases, however, where the perception is particularly negative, you’re usually better served to embrace where your customers are and ensure your employees and communication tactics are aligned with where those customers’ perception exist. In the end, this will likely produce the fastest and most genuine results.


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