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How To Audit Your Brand Strategy

This post is the third of five segments in the How To Audit Your Marketing series. Visit the main post for an overview of why to conduct a marketing audit, things you'll want to consider, and what to do with the results of your marketing audit.

How To Audit Your Marketing Strategy How To Audit Your Marketing Process


Marketing Audit - Brand Strategy Feature Image-2


Your brand strategy outlines how your company relates to its audience and market. How are your company and product positioned in the marketplace? Why would customers and partners choose you over your competitors? 

Your customer-facing teams, including marketing, sales, and customer service, use your brand strategy to inform how they communicate with customers, and it informs how everyone in your organization presents your company to the world.

When you’re reviewing your brand strategy, you want to understand how well you know your target audience and how your brand is designed to address them. You’ll want to repeat this process for your corporate brand and also for any individual product or service brands that you have.


Gather your materials

For the brand strategy audit, you'll need the following documents if you have them:

  • Audience research, personas, journeys, or situation maps
  • Brand plans and guidelines for your company brand and any of your individually branded products or services
  • Key messaging frameworks or documents
  • Business strategies and plans

You’ll also want to think about how you’re going to document everything. A spreadsheet or note taking app can be helpful for keeping your notes organized. Use whatever works best for you to keep a lot of information together in one place.

Once you have everything together, let's get started!


Conduct your marketing audience audit

First, let’s look at your audience:


1. Who is your target audience?

If you’re trying to be everything to everyone, you’ll be nothing to anyone. In order to address your audience’s specific needs and build a relationship with them, you need to understand who they are and what their thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behaviours are when it comes to your category, your brand, and your products.

You generally shouldn’t have more than 2-3 primary audiences that are the key buyers and/or decision makers when it comes to your product or service. For each one, write down:

  • Relevant demographics (ex: location, income, job role, etc.)
  • Psychographics (thoughts and beliefs they have in their life that are relevant to your product)
  • Behaviours related to your product (ex: how they shop for or use your product)
  • Opinions of your product and/or brand
  • Pain points in their life that can be solved by your product
  • Desires/goals they might have that your product can help them meet

This information should come from research and real customer data if possible. Avoid guessing and don’t assume that what’s important to you is what’s important to your customer. The better you can really understand them, the better you’ll be able to meet their needs.

If you have audience research or personas, you’ll find this information there.

Marketing Audit Graphics - Brand Strategy - Audience Persona

An audience persona is a fictional profile that includes all the key details about your target audience.


2. Do you have any secondary audiences?

Secondary audiences are those audiences that don’t actually purchase or use your product, but whose needs you may still need to consider. These could include influencers or gatekeepers who can impact the purchase of your product, government or investors that have an interest in your company or industry, or the media and general public that you want to have an overall positive opinion of your organization.

Secondary audiences are not the target of your marketing and communications, but you want to keep their interests in mind when designing your brand and marketing strategies.


3. Do you have any anti-audiences?

Anti-audiences are those audiences that will never purchase your product, and so whose opinions you don’t need to take into consideration when designing your marketing plans.

This doesn’t mean that you antagonize these audiences or do anything that might harm them, only that you don’t have to worry about their preferences or behaviours when designing your brand. Knowing your anti-audiences can be helpful for filtering out feedback and opinions that aren’t relevant to your primary audience and might distract you from your marketing goals.

Information on your secondary and anti-audiences, if you have them, might be available in your audience research, personas, or other audience documentation.


Conduct your brand audit

Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, it’s time to look at how your brand relates to them and meets their needs. Write down the following information if you have it:


1. What is your point of differentiation?

Your point of differentiation is the key feature of your product or service that sets you apart from other solutions your customer might choose. This could be a core feature of the product, such as its quality or specific functions, or it could be a secondary feature, such as that your organization provides superior customer service.


2. What is your value proposition?

Your value proposition outlines the main advantage your customer gains from your point of differentiation, that answers your customer’s needs. What do they stand to gain from choosing your product?

As an example, if your point of differentiation is that your product performs its function faster than other products, your value proposition might be that it saves your customer time.


3. What is your brand promise?

Your brand promise is the way in which your customer’s life is better because of your value proposition. Why does it matter to them, and how does it impact their life?

In our previous example, if your product saves your customer time, then they might have more time to spend with their family or be able to get more done in their workday. Brand promises are usually emotional in nature and have nothing to do with your product itself, but rather with what’s really important to your audience.

Your point of differentiation, value proposition, and brand promise should all be included in your brand plans if you have them. They may also be included in design documentation developed by your product team.


Marketing Audit Graphics - Brand Strategy 1


4. What are your brand’s key messages?

Your key messages outline your brand’s main talking points that are used to connect your company or product to your audience’s needs. They are based on your product’s features and benefits, your brand promise, and often your company’s mission and values as well.

Consistent key messages help to keep your brand communications focused, reinforce your brand or product value with your customer, and build your relationship with them. Key messages are used by your marketing, sales, and customer service teams to build out their communications with your customers.

You’ll find your key messages in your brand plans, brand guidelines, or key messaging documents if you have them.

Marketing Audit Graphics - Brand Strategy 2 - Key Messages


5. What is your brand’s persona?

Finally, your brand persona outlines what your brand’s personality is, how you present your brand in the marketplace, and the role you take with your audiences. This helps you present a consistent face to your customers and stakeholders and provides clarity for your various customer-facing teams. A study by Young & Rubicam showed that brands with a tightly-defined brand identity rose in market value by 97% more over six years than ones with ill-defined brands.

Your persona is based on both your audience’s needs - what do they want from the companies and products they choose - and your company’s values and goals. It will be defined in terms of characteristics, like warm, authoritative, or rugged, and in terms of roles, such as teacher, leader, supporter, or friend.

Marketing Audit Graphics - Brand Strategy - Brand Map

A brand map includes all the key information about your brand, including your target audiences, brand positioning, and brand persona.


If your company has worked with a creative or strategic agency to develop your brand, this information will be included in your brand strategy or brand guidelines. If not, it may be included in your business plans.


How a fractional CMO can help

Need some support with auditing your brand strategy? A fractional chief marketing officer like me can help. 

I've positioned brands for dozens of companies in both B2B and B2C industries. I can help you get clear on your current understanding of your audience, how your company shows up in the marketplace, and how that delivers against your goals for your business.

If you need help with the other parts of your marketing audit or determining your next steps once your audit is completed, I also offer marketing strategy, planning, and management services on a project or fractional basis. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more!


What to do next

By understanding what your audience needs and cares about when it comes to your product, and what messages, personality, and role your customer-facing teams should present when relating to those audiences, you can give your teams clearer direction, keep your brand communications consistent, focus on what matters to your customer, and build stronger and longer-lasting relationships with them.

The information from this audit also serves as an important input into the fourth in this series, the marketing process audit.

If you found that you didn't have some of the information to complete your brand strategy audit, talk to your senior management team, product team, marketing team or your marketing agency. Or you can work with a marketing strategist (like me) to develop them.

Your understanding of your audience forms the basis of your business planning, product development, and marketing communications planning and is critical to ensure the work your company is doing fulfils the needs of your customers. Meanwhile, your brand persona and key messages inform how your marketing, sales, and customer service teams represent your company to your customers and the world.


How To Audit Your Marketing Strategy How To Audit Your Marketing Process