The top brands stay on top because they change over time, and this is due to their uncanny ability to understand consumer behaviors and react accordingly. Consumer trends, what’s in and what’s not, mutate and evolve. And a brand audit let’s you evolve right along with them, so you need to have your online house in order. Here’s how!
For maximum exposure and reach – brands need to understand:
- Brand auditing 101
- The five steps for staying on top
And these stats on consumer behavior communicating the importance of a brand audit:
- 25% of consumers say they change brands more often now than before
- 70% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental issues
- 97% of consumers say customer reviews influence their purchasing decisions
This CPG brand audit shows significant mentions over the past three months. Net Sentiment is 27% due to this brand’s monopoly in the market and their lack of commitment to sustainability, as well as poor labor practices.
This brand audit signals the need for this company to message out about consumer concerns and create more positive associations with its brand and products. And a brand audit should drive each piece of that planning, so let’s examine how that could look.
What’s a brand audit?
Even when you think you’re in good health, a proactive person will get checkups to make sure their health is where it ought to be. It should be the same for any business.
A brand audit is your brand’s check-up – one that should happen (at least) quarterly, optimally it should be an ongoing, daily effort. A brand audit analyzes your share of voice, your reputation, your strengths and your weaknesses. If you are regularly checking in on your heartbeat, you will be alerted to any kind of disruption, positioning you to act quickly.
A brand audit also allows you to listen in on consumer conversation, so you can build relationships with your customers. And it gives brands the power to:
- Compare your company to your competition, as well as identify your competitive standing in the wider market
- Deliver on unmet consumer desires by aligning yourself with their expectations
- Track campaign effectiveness and brand efforts across multiple online channels
- Identify new trends and opportunities for your brand to explore
- Reduce risk by identifying trouble spots
Overall, brand loyalty is waning. With 25% of 2021 consumers say that they change brands more often now than before, a brand audit should be a priority in your marketing planning.
1. Benchmarking Past and Present Efforts
Benchmarking is something you should already be doing, but if not, there’s no time like the present to start. Taking stock of your brand, its messaging and share of voice will aid your company in all kinds of ways.
It can tell you how your messaging is received, whether your past and current campaigns are working and where you should adopt new practices. Benchmarking answers:
- What’s my share of voice? And how are my competitors doing, comparatively?
- What can my brand do to be more competitive?
- How do consumers talk and feel about me?
- How are my current campaigns performing in comparison to past efforts?
This is your first step in any marketing strategy.
2. Competitor Comparison & Monitoring
A brand audit measures your efforts against your competitor’s efforts. It allows you to listen for opportunities that they’re either ignoring or not seeing for whatever reason – and helps you pinpoint that reason as well! And it helps you clearly see how consumers perceive your brand in relation to your competitors.
Below, we have two competitors’ summary metrics from the past month. Competitor A is displaying some worrisome Net Sentiment. When we explore what is driving it, we discover conversations about human labor laws, the lack of quality in their products and their lack of commitment to sustainability. This is a problem, as 70% of consumers want to know what the brands they support are doing to address social and environmental issues.
Competitor B, on the other hand, shows sentiment zigzagging, but ultimately trending positively – and steadily increasing. And although they’re capturing a smaller portion of the conversation, we can be fairly certain they have less struggles around keeping customers, as people are quick to jump ship when they’re not happy! Had we looked only at the post counts, we’d miss the underlying sentiment, which is a huge piece of the brand audit puzzle.
3. Identifying Trends
Trends come and go, knowing when something is on the decline, or trending positively is critical to getting your messaging and marketing right.
The pandemic offers a great example. It accelerated online shopping, eSports activity and healthier living. Brands that were already using social listening were uniquely positioned to pivot quickly and adapt to these changes. These are extreme shifts, but they happen to a lesser degree every day online.
Identifying what’s trending with your audience allows you to widen your reach and broaden your marketing horizon. For example, if you notice an uptick in all-natural deodorants and you’re Old Spice, you’d want to invest in this category to capture this segment.
The key to trendspotting is monitoring online with the right social media listening tool and performing consistent brand audits. It’s the best way to ensure your offerings are meeting consumer expectations. And it would be awful if you had an amazing product available – one that was currently trending with consumers, and you let a competitor woo your audience away because they had relevant messaging out there at the right time, and you missed out! This is actually a common occurrence online.
4. Sentiment Analysis
Sentiment analysis reveals what consumers feel about your brand. When consumers take to their social platforms, it’s like listening to a young child go on about something without a filter. And this is especially true if they’re passionate – either in love with or super angry at a brand. During these times, they let loose.
These reviews can hard to hear sometimes, but there’s a lesson in every negative online brand mention. And by capturing these sentiments, you can fix it before it becomes a hug newsworthy disaster. Also, know that 97% of consumers state that “customer reviews” influence their purchasing decisions. So, if you have consumers ranting about you online, it’s a bad idea to ignore it. This is not the word cloud you want to greet your consumers’ eyes.
Sentiment is critical to reading the room – and for staying ahead of any dangerous narratives. If a statement is made about your brand, you want your social media audit to catch it, so you can address it. And that requires monitoring both the news and consumer perceptions.
5. Understanding News vs Consumer Perceptions
It’s a joint effort and you need to be able to compare what the news is saying vs what consumers are saying. Do they line up? Can the news validate what you are hearing consumers say – and are consumers really interested in that hot new widget that’s being reported? It’s a chicken-egg scenario that can go either way, with each source offering valuable intel.
And then perhaps there are news journals you could align yourself with for more publicity – potentially drawing in a new consumer segment you hadn’t previously considered?
For example, under local news, we can see a CPG company’s efforts widely reported. Digging in we can see the stories sharing its commitment to recyclable containers and better water stewardship. They also donated dog food to Meals on Wheels for struggling pet owners.
But these are all stories that aren’t being mentioned on the consumer side of the conversation. This tells us that although they have a strong media presence, they need to focus on creating a bridge between media and consumer perception, as awareness of these good deeds is the ultimate goal. A brand ambassador, or likely a few of them sourced from target subsets, would do the trick.
There are just so many ways to take action after performing a brand audit. We’ve covered some essentials here, but we’d love to show you more when you reach out for a demo. Understanding your place in your category, and in your target consumers’ lives has never been more accessible – and more powerful.