Brand Audit (a bit of soul-searching, anyone?)

You know those brands that give you that punched-in-the-gut feeling? Or the ones that stop your endless scrolling because you’re mesmerized by how deeply they "get you?" That’s not by accident.

The professionals at those companies were able to see their brand and their audience (you) objectively to creatively evoke emotions. The process is called a brand audit, and it is intentional and deliberate. International goliath or local start-up, it matters. And it’s worth it.

A brand audit can help companies understand the effect their messaging and visual identity has on their target audience through the use of in-depth market research, identifying assets in their arsenal, and understanding their current branding and messaging. 

So, what is a Brand?

Simply put, a brand is a unique collection of key messages and visual identity components (logos, colors, fonts, imagery, and storytelling) that convey the essence of your company to the marketplace.

A successful brand creates a powerful connection between you and your customers. The development process is more than just a creative exercise; it’s a discipline involving research, analysis, exploration, and strategic implementation. In today’s crowded landscape, a strong brand cuts through the noise and delivers a clear picture of who you are and what you do.

The fact is, your organization already has a brand. As an established entity, you have created an impression on the general public through your communications and interactions. Good, bad, or indifferent, you have an established awareness in the market.

Understanding how well that awareness is resonating (if at all), and whether or not the effort is resulting in a positive (and accurate) reflection of your organization, can be an eye-opening exercise. It requires some serious soul searching. Learning that your message is falling flat, or that your brilliant idea from 10 years ago is no longer ringing true, can be difficult to swallow. But, it is a healthy exercise that is in the best interest of any company doing business today, and planning to do business for a long time. 

Defining the traits of your organization that distinguish it in the market will allow for an accurate creative exercise to take place. This exercise will ultimately leverage the culture, strengths, and goals that separate you from the rest of the market, and more importantly, emphasize those traits in real ways that honor the business you have cultivated. Flipping the script can bring renewed awareness externally, and build excitement and morale internally. A win-win.


Where do I start?

Creatively, even the simplest of stories can be positioned in unique and compelling ways. Be it your history, your roster, your products, or your services, it's the way you tell your story that defines you. Once you’ve owned it, plug it in and amplify it. 

Some folks are readers, others listen, and still others are more emotionally tuned-in to the kaleidoscope of marketing and advertising we are being force-fed daily. To hit all of the senses, your visual story must support the movement as well. 

Craftsmanship that combines the right messaging with the right typography and the right color palette with the right imagery, along with a solid design viewpoint, will codify the package as yours and only yours. Anyone can combine these elements and call it a brand. The key is crafting these elements in strong and effective ways so that it strikes a chord and a “vibe” is born. 

  • Typography doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Strong typographical treatments create "art" and can have a huge impact on the “look and feel” of a brand. At it’s simplest, a blocky collegiate font and a delicate script font will tell very different stories and land very differently with customers. Crafted well, the simplest of wordmarks can tell a complete story without ambiguity. Done poorly, it’s nothing more than a keystroke. 
  • The color spectrum has infinite possibilities for how you can make your audience feel about what they see. It’s critical. At a basic level, warm colors evoke happiness and optimism. Cool colors are calming and reassuring. How these colors relate to one another, and relate to you, is significant in your decision-making. Consider the hundreds of brands you interact with daily. Whether you are grabbing a quick bite or buying a car, the colors that surround you have a visceral effect on your emotions. This is deliberate.  
  • The importance of unique, intriguing, and authentic photography can not be understated. Whether you’re selling widgets or intellectual property, authentic photography conveys professionalism. It shows that you value your team, your efforts, and your story. It can make or break how your brand lands with your audience. Professional, custom photography, directed by your branding team, will always pay for itself over time.

Combining these elements in an intentional, cohesive way – and staying the course – will build equity in your brand and trust in your audience. “Trust” is critical in the relationship you have with your customers. As it grows, sales grow. 


Get Professional Help

The key to your success in this process will be in-depth, up-front research to assess internal and external perspectives on your organization to formulate a unique creative approach. 

At Ironmark, we have a diverse mix of communications professionals with wide-ranging expertise – including market research, design, messaging, and project management. A typical brand engagement is a true team effort where our team collaborates closely with yours to discern your organization’s true strengths and present them to the marketplace. 

Whether it’s a simple refresh or a complete overhaul, a brand audit is a net-positive for any organization that hasn’t considered taking a true, honest look in the mirror lately. You might be surprised by what you see.

Let's talk creative!

Written by Steve Norwood

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