Do you know the meaning of a brand and a brand audit? If you’re running and growing a business, you should look after your brand.

Coral Garlick has always been fascinated by brands and how they can differentiate themselves in crowded marketplaces. She started her career in large ad agencies, firstly Ogilvy & Mather and then TBWA following a Masters in Marketing. She is the founder of Brand Me Collective, a network for female founders of luxury brands. Coral is joining the prestigious judging panel of The Good Web Guide Awards 2019. Here she talks about how to do a brand audit and what she is looking for in a winning website.

‘I spend a lot of time working with brands to uncover the magic that makes their business unique. Understanding this power and communicating it to a creative team is the key to creating a powerful brand communications that your consumer will love.

If you have applied for the Good Web Awards 2019, I am assuming that you have a website that you are proud of. As with all of these things there will be some businesses that are disappointed. All of the judges will have different criteria of what they are looking for but if this year you are unsuccessful, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a brilliant business. Conducting a brand audit is a great place to start looking at where some tweaks can be made to make your brand communications even stronger for next year.

Why do a brand audit?

A brand audit will help you look at the strengths and weaknesses of your brand and identify areas for improvement. A strong brand positioning should inspire, captivate and engage your audience and ultimately give you a more profitable business. This is what you need to consider when you do a brand audit.

1. Your marketplace
Look at the market within which you operate to gain a much clearer picture of where you sit amongst the competition.
What market are you in and how does your brand fit within this market?
Who are your main competitors?
What are your competitors strengths and weaknesses?
What is their market positioning?
Where does your brand fit? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are there any opportunities in your marketplace that you are not pursuing?
Identify the key threats to your business.

2. Your target audience
Analyse your target audience to get a deeper understanding of the clients that excite you the most and the ones who are going to really love your brand.
What need do your target market want fulfilled?
What exactly is the problem you are solving?
How do you want to make people feel?
What are they most likely to like or dislike about your brand?

3. Your brand
Is your brand occupying the right position in the marketplace to attract the people you most want to work with?
Do you have a mission statement?
What space do you own or want to own in your marketplace?
Do you have a clear positioning statement?
What are your brand’s values? Are these the right brand values and are they reflected in everything that you do?
Are your brand values consistent with your desired positioning?
Does your brand bring something unique to your market? What do you do that no-one else does?
Does your brand have it’s own identity that your audience understands?

4. Your communications
Do all of your communications sing one clear consistent message? Do you have an identifiable brand look and feel?
Look at every element of your marketing mix – your website, social media, packaging, marketing collateral, written communications, your personal brand, storefront and shopper experience.
Define what you want each channel and piece of communication to do for you and look at how each one contributes to your overall brand strategy.
Do all your communications have the same tone of voice?
How do your audience want to be communicated with?

5. Moving forwards
Your brand audit should have given you a much clearer picture of where you currently sit within your marketplace. More importantly you will now have a stronger vision of what you need to do to move your brand and communications forward. This is essential information for briefing any creative team.

6. The creative brief
The purpose of a creative brief is to excite and inspire the designer working on your project. The information gathered from your brand audit should feed into this document. Firstly you need to be clear on exactly what you are asking them to do. If you don’t know what you are asking, how can you expect them to create brilliant work? Secondly you need to bring this vision to life so that anyone reading your brief can get inside the head of your consumer.
Most designers will have their own written briefing requirements but producing a mood board of the kind of work you love and think is right for your brand can serve as a great source of inspiration.

7. Evaluating creative work
If you get the research and briefing stage right you are more likely to get the right creative work first time. All great work starts with a deep understanding of your consumer and the need you are fulfilling for them. If you get this right you will instinctively know when you have standout creative work that makes you first choice, every time for your customer.

What I will be looking for when judging the Awards this year

I am passionate about beautiful design. I could obsess for hours over the right colours, fonts and layouts which make for beautiful brand communications. Understanding and communicating your brand story will always be at the heart of great design, I will be looking for designs which I believe deliver exceptional consumer understanding, communicated in a compelling way. Even in the most crowded marketplace a business should have it’s own unique story, I will be looking for brands that own their story and bring it to life creatively.

I believe in entrepreneurship and I could not be more delighted to play a small part in helping you build businesses and websites you are truly proud of. Do get in touch if you have any questions and I will of course try to help. Good luck with your entry.’

By Coral Garlick, founder of Brand Me Collective.

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June 2019