Performing a Brand Audit

I had a recent conversation with someone who said that when he started on as a marketing manager he took it upon himself to perform a full on brand audit and ended up learning more about the company and its brands than most people.  Now, I’ve been involved in re-branding exercises, and VOC’s but I haven’t really performed a brand audit in its true nature.  Knowing that this is something that could bring tremendous value to a brand I decided to explore what it means to perform a true multi-step brand audit.

In my search, I came across a few sources, which I’ll cite as I go but the one that came up first, due to its great SEO, was a post from Miles Design.  So get ready and get your pencils out! (P.S. Speaking of pencils, and you’ll understand why later, have you checked out my Hire Me! section of the blog?)

What is the purpose of a brand audit?

The purpose behind a brand audit is plain and simple: to gain a fundamental understanding of where your brand stands in its current state.

When and why should we audit our brand?

The majority of business go through the process of auditing their brand when they have a vested interest in making a change within their organization. Maybe they’re rebranding, or refreshing their current look. This would be a perfect time to take a look at your current brand and see where it has shifted since its inception. Perhaps an organization is unhappy with their internal communication and employee relations. A smart CEO or CMO might take that opportunity to judge what their brand stands for, who they are as a company and what they need to do from a communications stand point to fix the internal problems or issues.

Brand Audit Example

An extensive brand audit should look at the following categories:


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


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


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

 Do the math.

How many new clients/projects would you have to win to justify the costs of a rebrand?

For most professional service firms, one or two clients would be more than enough to justify the investment.

Below are some additional resources:
Conducting an Effective Brand Audit – Ignition Consulting Group
Critical Steps When Conducting a Brand Audit – 8 Ways Media

P.S. The next blog post will be about conducting a social media audit so come on back!

Q3 – Marketing Roadmap Update

The above might not make business sense to your business but the point is, this is Q3, or 2H (second half) of the year.  What have you learned from the first half?  Let’s assume a few things and then work through those assumptions.

Assumptions…You were tasked with…
1. Creating a brand new 2015 marketing strategy at the end of last year.
2. Increasing brand awareness for your brand while also supporting some sales goals, such as improving web sales.
3. Increasing web traffic.
4. Improving the SEO & PPC outcomes.
5. Helping launch new products.

How will you track success on the above?
1. Creating a strategy is one thing, having that strategy work out is quite another. As a leader of a team, or department, you need to be monitoring the outcomes of all of your activities.

Can you track how many leads were collected at a tradeshow? Is this more or less than last year? And did more of them open a post tradeshow email you sent?

What about costs for all of your activities?  Is the effort worth the investment?

I was once told that as a manager I was spending too much time on planning and research. I would have agreed with that statement if my team wasn’t proving that what we were doing was actually working.  And if no one spent any time thinking about what the next practical thing to do would be we’d be in the same situation we were in before.  No plan and a lot of time and money wasted.

2. Brand awareness is a tricky thing.  Wouldn’t it be nice to tie a pretty bow around every “like” you get and tie it to a sale?  That would be the best success story ever and I would take that job in a heart beat.  But, reality is that brand awareness is hard to track. Your best bet is to be present in the places where your customers talk.  Find the right forums, social platforms, news outlets, sites, blogs, magazines, whatever and be present.  Answer people’s questions and be there when they need you.  It’s a huge effort, but somebody has to do it in order to get your brand out there in the right way…and the right way isn’t beating your customers over the head over your most awesome widget and its 13 different features. BORING!

Now web sales fall into that “yay factor” where you can easily track things back to your marketing efforts, most of the time.  If you have the right tracking tools in place you’ll be able to easily see that a sale came from an email you sent, or that they clicked through a digital ad in a pub, or better yet thought your Facebook posting was SO compelling that they simply had to have your latest whos-it. Congrats! You’re on easy street now.  But, if your efforts are not driving sales then you need to re-evaluate what you are doing.  Perhaps you’re in the wrong place, or perhaps you’re simply there at the wrong time…or, you’re not using the right lingo to attract your perfect customer.  Evaluate, measure, repeat!

3. I love to help increase web traffic.  In my last role, my team was able to increase web traffic by over 100% as compared to the previous year.  Now, the fact that we had an online store at that time certainly helped, but the planning that went into all other marketing activities also didn’t hurt.  We were able to roll out a new PR plan and got a ton of new eyes on our site.  We also improved the look of our emails and our paid ads.  Just those three things alone will help you bring in some changes.

4. Improving SEO & PPC outcomes is a monumental task.  Let’s break these two into two topics.

SEO – this is an effort that a lot of people need to be involved in.  Marketing needs to hold the reigns on this one as all marketing activities must tie into the same SEO plan.  You can’t have three different departments on three different pages and marketing trying to keep up with everything, that’s how you end up below the fold or worse yet on page 2 of a google search. You need to sit down with whoever the other stake holders might be…perhaps it’s your technical writers, or product folks, or applications team, and don’t forget your sales team.  You need to make sure that you set some very specific goals as to what you need to be focusing on and what specific terms you will be using to convey your story.  To be honest, this should have been done at the beginning of the year, but let’s not get the perfect get in the way of the good.

Once you have your strategy in place, make sure that those terms are the ones you are using everywhere.

Title tags, alt tags, meta descriptions, video descriptions, product descriptions, social media postings, PR, ads, the list goes on and on but at a minimum you need to have these areas covered.

PPC – this can be a tricky one.  The easy part is that once you have your SEO strategy and keyword list you should use the same keywords for your PPC efforts.  The fun part is, that you can really play with your PPC money. If you’re looking for brand awareness, then do some display ads.  Google will even help you with this.  Pick the keywords you want to focus on and they will supply you with a list of sites that talk about those related topics.  Pick where you want your ads to appear and once again Google will step in and create the ad for you.  You might not get a lot of sales out of it, but you can be optimistic, but you will sure as hell get a lot of  eyes on your ads…i.e. impressions, and that’s a good thing.

But, be careful with your budget as it can dwindle very quickly.  In one of my last roles we had to really reel in the spend and instead of trying to be all things to all people we chose to focus on branding and getting our name out there, and guess what, we finally got some conversions!

5. Ahhh, product launches.  Another place where there can be too many cooks in the kitchen.  But, this can be easily mitigated if you have a plan!  Have I said that word a few times already?  I love to plan, and I love numbers…but I digress.

In a previous role we had just gotten into phase gating. Phase gating allows for proper planning for a product launch.  There can be times when a product needs to be launched yesterday but if that’s the case then often times…someone dropped the ball, especially if no one knows about this new hullabaloo product.

In order to have a successfully marketed new product you need to get a few ducks in a row.  Get everyone aware of the product and its features, but more importantly, why its even needed in the market.  Get the appropriate content written about this new product and get some collateral pulled together.  Collateral that has been planned ahead for will not only look better but will also last you more than a month…I say this because if everything is a rush, then chances are some things haven’t been thought through and you’ll need to update your new lit the minute it comes in house, and that would be a shame.

Make sure that you have your team trained, your ads lined up, your press releases written, samples ready to show off at the next tradeshow, and your team ready to blast the hell out of this new thing.

Here is a word of caution, just because you’re the first on the market doesn’t mean you’ll succeed.  There is a time and a place and a right way to do things.

So with that, I leave you with a few thoughts.

1. Have you looked at the metrics from the first two quarters? What are they telling you?

2. Have you thought of a way to improve a current process or two that will allow you to have even more success in something?

3. Have you considered not doing something?  It’s ok to say that this thing you suggested just didn’t work.  It’s better to admit that now, rather than at the end of the year when you’ve spent twice as much on it.

Good luck, and knock Q3 out of the ball park!!!

Marketing Roadmap

I’ve been in a particular situation where looking ahead and planning was, let’s say, more than frowned upon.  In my opinion, without a plan, you’re up sh*ts creek without a paddle.  Of course, it’s one thing to plan and not execute.  But it’s another to plan, execute, and find new ways to improve the original plan.  It takes time, research, and analysis.  So here is what I typically like to do when taking on a new marketing team or joining a new company entirely.

1. Assess the situation.  Meet with any and all potential players and get a sense for what the biggest hurdles are and where the low hanging fruit can be found.

2. Based on your findings, create a high level plan of what needs to be accomplished in a set period of time, be it three months, six months, or a year.

3. Look into what challenges need to be overcome in order to get to the next step.  In my case it was: figure out which markets we need to focus on in the upcoming year and then figuring out how we will reach the target audiences in those markets.

4. Begin to set your plan into motion by changing up the marketing mix, and introducing new processes, within the department in order to meet the overall business goals & objectives.  Although, this might not be necessary in all situations.

5. Create a marketing roadmap.  The way I’ve done things in the past was diving things up by markets, this may not be ideal in every industry. I would then look at when the buying times occurred for those markets and hit them during those strategic times, all the while preparing content ahead of time in order to be prepared.  This won’t always work out of the gate unless you’re being brought in to a smooth running machine that simply needs a leader.

6. Set the roadmap in motion and observe.  Look into the metrics and see what’s working, and what needs tweaking.  This will help you not only assess the overall marketing situation but also learn about what works and doesn’t in your new industry, or market, or…whatever.

7. After about three months, or a quarter, take a look at the body of work.  What do you need to put more focus on?  What is working better than expected and hence needs more man power? What needs to be moved on from? Based on your analysis, set up the next quarter’s plan but continue to adjust as needed as you might now be focusing on an entirely different audience that likes to consume their information in an entirely different way.

8. Start to think about the bigger missing pieces and how you’ll fill the gaps.  In my experience, content creation and content strategy has been the biggest hurdle to over come.  Everyone needs to be on the same page and that page takes a long time to turn.  You need to prove the reasons why you need a strategy and then get everyone on it.  Without that, you are constantly chasing.  But in order to get people to understand its importance you need to show some kind of metrics that prove that what you are doing is working.  Metrics such as more eyes on your site, leads from paid eblasts, or more sales from certain social platforms or digital publications.

9. Present your future plan with an explanation as to why it is needed.  Explain why you need everyone to collaborate together, and works towards the same goal.  In some cases this might be a no brainer, but be prepared to really have to dive deep on this one.

10. Measure, measure, measure.  You should never stop. Digital marketing is always changing. New platforms pop up, new metrics get unveiled, and you need to stay on top of it.  Don’t let people tell you “You shouldn’t be doing that, just delegate.” Sometimes, you need to do something yourself, especially if that something is a new strategy or if it’s something that was broken in the past and someone really needs to dive deep to figure out the issues before handing it off.

Good luck!

Plan, execute, measure, repeat!

ATL, BTL, and TTL Marketing

I first saw these acronyms in a job description as I was preparing for an interview: “…deliver engaging and creative campaigns, ATL and BTL, to support brand and product launch programs.”

“What in the what?” is what I thought. A little bit of digging lead me to finding out that these are fancy acronyms for all the things we are all already doing in marketing.  ATL, BTL, and TTL refer to the kind of marketing you are running. These acronyms come mainly from the advertising world and refer to the specific kind of audience you are trying to reach and for what purpose.

As you can see above, and as I realized, we have all more than likely done both ATL & BTL marketing with the above outlined goals in mind.  In my most recent job my main goals were brand awareness, finding new customers, and growing our web traffic (among many other goals).  We reached our goals through email, PR, video, advertising, tradeshows, social media and the web. Quite a ATL & BTL mix.

What about you?  Does your marketing department mainly do ATL or BTL marketing?  Or is it a happy mix of everything?

“I’m helping them market.”

There are times when for one reason or another I feel compelled to tweet out or post a thanks or a photo with a caption to a specific brand or company. My husband does not share in this kind of desire and instead asks, “why? Can you just tell me why you have to do that now?” My simplest answer, and one that seems to have held the most water with him is, “I’m helping them market.”

It’s true. When I feel like someone should receive a kudos or a shout out, or just a simple “Hey thanks for being there.” I feel like that brand should hear that kind of sentiment from me, or any customer. After all, I know very well that brands work hard for that kind of word of mouth marketing. Large brands, and especially consumer facing brands, have it easier than others when it comes to people thinking of them and taking part in word of mouth marketing. But, none the less, I am a marketer. Regardless of whether I work for you or  not, I will help you market, if I believe in your cause.



Re-branding a brand can be difficult.  Besides worrying about a new logo, message, or product offering you also have to worry about how the customers will receive these changes.  Will they talk in a positive or negative light? Will they think you’ve simply rebranded to freshen things up but in reality are hiding the fact that your offering is dated? Will you fall off the map entirely because your new refresh gets you overlooked among your competition? Will your rebranding make it clearer to the consumer what your brand is about? (Such as in the example above)

Here is a very good tip from an article written about the J.Crew turnaround: “Offer quality products while always looking for new ways to meet customer demands.”

So what does this mean? To me it means that you need to look at your products and ensure that they still offer the customer the safe/quality/hip/etc product they have come to expect from you (unless you’re heading in an entirely different direction and are trying to show customers that your products are not cheap, in which case that’s a whole other mountain to climb…talk to your PR department about how to spin the messaging on that).  Then look at how to expand that product offering by including new products.  Don’t just jump in and waste time, resources, and money on new products that may not be market ready yet.

As you transition to the new look and feel of your brand, keep a pulse on the demand and what the customers are looking for and need.  Keep your eye on competition, talk to customers, learn about what it is that will make the biggest splash.  But with the biggest splash in mind, don’t just splash and flop, make sure that the new product(s) you’re going to launch meet the needs of your key customers.

Good luck!

Attribution Models

In the last two jobs that I have held we have used both single source attribution and fractional attribution models…without really knowing that what we were doing had a name to it.

What I mean is, we looked at both the final place that a lead converted from, i.e. the lead’s final click, as well as some of their history with the company.  Sometimes, an eblast would trigger a former customer to place an order because of their favorable experience with the products. But at the end of the day, we put emphasis on the fact that the eblast or social interaction triggered that conversion or sale.

For those in the same boat, a recent article talks about how to look at how to calculate inbound marketing ROI through attribution modeling…because really, it’s time we started using the appropriate wording for what we’re already doing!

Thank you New Breed for the blog post on the topic.

Lead Scoring

My first experience with lead scoring came when we implemented Pardot.  The new platform allowed for improved nurturing of our leads and a better way to understand where in the buying funnel each lead was at any given time. However, the one issue we ran into was that sales was starving for leads and we couldn’t wholeheartedly just hang on to some leads to properly nurture them.  So while sales was following up on the prospects, we nurtured them simultaneously and hoped for the best.  So keep that in mind when you’re being pushed to score your leads and not throw every prospect possible over the fence.

Hubspot goes over lead scoring, and your organization’s readiness for it.  Take a look and determine whether to take the next step.

Account Based Marketing

Account based marketing focuses on the key accounts that will generate revenue.  In my B2B past, we viewed these as target markets.  When I created a roadmap for our marketing efforts, I would consult sales to better understand when certain markets were going to be making their purchases for our products and marketing to them leading up to and during that time.

Each market had its own demographic and its own buying time.  This kind of roadmap allowed for the department to put greater focus on specific times during a key time during the year.  It allowed us to hone in on our various initiatives and better analyze the results, rather than taking a shot gun approach and hitting all customers at once with one blanket message regardless of their interest, purchasing power, or specific need.

Account based marketing, takes some of the above into account and puts it into 5 key steps, at least according to Marketo’s findings:

  1. Discover & Define Your Key Prospects
  2. Define Personalized and Effective Messaging
  3. Determine Optimal Channels
  4. Execute Targeted Campaigns
  5. Measure, Learn & Optimize

What approach are you taking to ensure that you are focusing on key markets, or accounts, during the right time in their buying process?