The Audit You Shouldn’t Fear

Your brand changes a little every day, and your audience along with it. At critical phases of growth It is important to recognize how your brand is evolving so that your business does not get stuck in a marketing/brand standstill or worse, loose its relevance and consumer trust.

A few months ago Rival was asked to put together a Brand Audit “Lite” program for the Vermont Food Venture Center. The center recognized the potential growth opportunities of a handful of member producers. So they wanted to offer them an opportunity to move forward as strongly as possible as they transitioned to their next phases of growth.

So, what’s a Brand Audit? In the most general terms, a brand audit is a detailed analysis of your brand in its current state. Brand audits help a business to recognize its strengths and weaknesses, create opportunities for improvement, and find new ways to help the business stay relevant and move forward.

And the I.R.S.? Well, that’s just a fun acronym Rival created that stands for Insights, Research, and Strategy—the cornerstones of any good Brand Audit.

The Brand Audit created for the VFVC producers included three primary components— An asset audit, a brand strategy analysis, and competitive research within their category and channels.


Asset Audit

Assessments rated external marketing assets along a sliding measure of how well the asset would support their business goals moving forward from a messaging, design, and execution standpoint. The assets listed here are 3 of the 20 assets we reviewed.


rival asset audit

Brand Strategy Analysis

This venn diagram was used as the framework for us to gather insights into their story, product, and customer, research how they impact each other, and strategize the resulting value proposition. The results showed us how the brand can be expressed as a single and bold idea that has long term value for their customers and greatest potential for long term business growth.


rival audit diagram

Here’s a list of what a full Brand Audit might entail.

Internal Branding

  • Positioning
  • Brand Values
  • Unique Selling Proposition (USP), brand promise, or brand essence
  • Voice
  • Culture
  • Product / Service positioning

External Branding

  • Corporate Identity – logos and other brand elements
  • Collateral-brochures, print materials, trade show displays, etc.
  • Advertising
  • Website
  • Social Media
  • Sponsorships/civic-involvement/memberships
  • News/PR
  • Content Marketing and other assets – blogs, white papers, case studies, articles, books, etc.
  • Testimonials
  • Videos
  • Customer Journey

Systems and Infrastructure 

  • Corporate identity/brand standards
  • HR policies/on-boarding process
  • Sales processes/touch points
  • Internal systems
  • Customer service systems

Evaluating The End Results

Once you have a solid understanding of where your brand fits in the present, you can look to your current marketing strategies for an objective analysis of your performance. Some of the metrics you should look at include:

  • Web traffic data, including how many new visitors you receive and where they’re coming from
  • Marketing channel statistics to compare the effectiveness of your different messaging platforms (e.g., various social media platforms, traditional advertising, etc.)
  • Return on investment for your various marketing campaigns
  • Brand awareness in your target demographic

When you start analyzing your strategies, you’ll also want to do a competitive analysis. Find out what your competitors are doing, who they’re talking to, why they’re talking to them, and how effective they are at it (Are they making money?). Seeing your competitors’ recent efforts can give you a good sense of whether your brand is falling behind. Again, objective data is what’s important here—find out as much as you can about your competitors’ overall reach, sales revenue, and brand awareness compared to yours.

Making an Action Plan

Deciding what to do once you have all the information is the hardest part of the process. From a pure identity perspective you have three major options:

  • Keep your identity the way it is
  • Overhaul your identity
  • Keep your identity, but refresh it to more closely align with your company goals

Most brand audits result in a pursuit of option three: it’s a compromise that maintains your brand for your loyal customers but adjusts it to compensate for your changing environment. Once you make the decision for your brand, you’ll need to put together a full action plan for rolling out the changes.

Whether you opt for a full rebrand or just a handful of simple adjustments, it’s important to follow up over the course of the next few months and measure the results of your efforts. Only then will you be able to determine whether the rebrand was successful, or if further adjustments are necessary. Branding is a recursive process that responds to its environment regularly, so perform brand audits every few years to measure your identity and performance against your goals.

The overwhelming response to the brand audits for the Vermont Food Venture Center producers was a sense of clarity, progress, awareness and vision. What was once confusing or difficult to articulate about their brand, now became simple to recognize and lead to actionable steps to grow confidently and with purpose and drive.

What Rival Can Do For You

The specifics of a brand audit are customizable and depend on your brand’s particular requirements, phase of growth, and goals for the future. Not every brand audit will be the same. But the over-arching goal of a brand audit is always to deliver insightful strategies and brand benchmarks for how you should progress the brand forward.

If you are,

1) Launching a business and need a solid and well articulated brand strategy.

2) Rapidly growing and need to assess how your brand is evolving.

3) Mature and need to understand how to expand the reach of your brand into other categories or channels.

4) A legacy brand that needs to revitalize and refocus your brand.

Rival Brands can audit your brand to your particular requirements, business objectives, timelines and resources so that you’re more empowered to make informed choices to build your business, innovate and become a strong brand.

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