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A brand audit is a procedure for evaluating the strength of a company's brand and developing strategies to improve marketing and other aspects of a business plan. People can conduct internal audits or hire brand consultants for assistance. One advantage of using a consultant is an outside perspective. This can help companies identify issues they may not be able to see internally, as well as bringing in fresh ideas.
The first step in a brand audit is to define the brand and talk about the kinds of images and ideas a company wants to project through branding, marketing, and products. The audit proceeds to look at how members of the public respond to the brand and whether the company's current approach to business matches well with the stated aims. Brand audits include an evaluation of strengths and weaknesses, such as popularity in a particular demographic or a lack of ability to adjust to changing market forces.
During the brand audit, a company may use focus groups, surveys, and other measures to learn more about popular perception of the brand. It can also study brand placement to see how well it represents itself in the market, from the aisles of stores to the airwaves. Another concern can be whether the brand is strong, recognizable, and familiar. Brand analysts can express concern about issues like dilution of a brand or a failure to adapt to competition, and may also discuss industry trends to contextualize criticism of a company's branding.
People within a company may also participate in the brand audit. They can talk about what the brand means to them and how they work to promote and improve it. Mismatched expectations between employees and employers, individual departments, and so forth can weaken a brand strategy. One department might be working at cross-purposes to another, for example, or company representatives might not understand what to stress during meetings with clients.
At the end of a brand audit, the company has a detailed report on its current brand strategy and market position, with recommendations for improvement. These may include a detailed plan or more general advice, depending on the company and the type of audit. A brand auditor might recommend, for example, a marketing campaign to reintroduce a brand, the development of a new line of products to expand into the market, or classes for employees to familiarize them with the company's mission and goals so they can better represent their employers.