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Why we do an audit before starting a branding, marketing or website project

February 19, 2024 | Branding and Rebranding, Positioning and Messaging, Website Design and Redesign

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Have you ever started a branding or marketing project – with an agency or internally – only to realize halfway through that you’re duplicating efforts, the deliverables aren’t meeting your expectations, or your marketer has gone in a completely different direction with your brand? At Visible Logic, we often conduct an audit before starting branding, marketing, or website projects so we can avoid these problems. 

Read on to learn about why we do audits, what kind of audits we do, why our clients find them useful, and what you can expect from a pre-project audit.  

Why do we do a brand audit, website audit or marketing audit?

Most of our clients come to us when something isn’t working in their branding and marketing. Which means they’re eager to get started and fix the problem. 

One of the first conversations we have with clients is to set the expectation for an in-depth audit before jumping into the work that they hired us for. And once we explain why we do these audits, clients agree with us that it’s a helpful first step. 

These are just some of the ways audits help both us and the client: 

Accurate estimates

We know that budget is a concern for clients, especially startups. Putting together an accurate scope of work with estimated fees is almost impossible if we don’t know what we’re getting into. 

For example, a client may state that their website only needs a minor refresh. Once we conduct an audit we find that indeed their messaging and design doesn’t require a major overhaul, but their web site has been built using a confusing web of plugins and site-builder tools. Before we can make changes, we might need to devote time to building the site correctly, or sorting through which plugins are necessary. 

Another common scenario is when a prospect comes to us for a specific type of marketing, like paid social ads. When we conduct our audit and learn more about their target audience, we might realize that paid social is not going to be the most effective channel for reaching their target market. An audit can help us redirect resources to more effective marketing channels.

Understand our starting point

When you use the GPS in your car, you need to know two things – where you currently are, and where you want to go. Our audits help us – and you – understand both of these critical points. 

Audits help you discover your starting point by getting a complete picture of how your brand and marketing is right now. This gives us time to uncover potential discrepancies between what your website promises and the customer experience, or inconsistencies between your marketing and sales messages.

Some businesses have a clear vision of where they want to go, and others need some assistance in getting clarity. Our audits can also help clarify the endpoint, and begin to sketch out the roadmap for getting there. 

Avoiding duplicate efforts

We want to review what’s already been done to see not only how effective it was, but why. Let’s say a client has already tried sending e-newsletters and they weren’t successful, we want to review those emails. Did they have poor content or ugly design? Then it may be worthwhile to try e-newsletters again, with revamped graphics and copy. Other times, we may decide that previous efforts failed because it was the wrong marketing channel for their audience, and would therefore recommend trying something else. 

What kinds of audits we do and what we include

Every audit is unique, based on the individual challenges, size and type of business. In general, we do three kinds of audits: Brand audits, marketing audits, and website audits. 

Brand audit

Brand audits take a magnifying glass to your brand

We start with reviewing your current brand. That means reviewing products/services, identifying key features, your ideal customers, and your current sales process and business model. Then, we review your current usage of visual identity and messaging. In order to understand the context of your brand in your industry, we compare your products/services to competitors in the marketplace, and articulate differentiators. Then, we assess the brand hierarchy of the parent brand (if applicable), and any products or service lines. 

Once we’ve established where your brand is, we start to define where you want to be. We use a combination of small group meetings with our proprietary branding software Branding Compass to get your input on what kind of message you want your brand to convey. We will ask you to clarify key benefits of your products and services and how they connect to your brand, as well as share any likes and dislikes about design, fonts, or other visuals. 

Then, we identify and summarize the key audience group for each business unit and write a value proposition for each. From there, we make recommendations and sketch out a plan of how we get you to where you want to go. 

B2B marketing audit

For marketing projects, we start with auditing all of your current marketing efforts. With so many available marketing channels, it’s important to ensure that your messaging is consistent across channels. 

We will review any current or past social, email, and pay-per-click efforts, as well as earned media, and your website. We want to gain an understanding of what’s been done so far, how effective it’s been, and how consistent your efforts have been. We’ll also see what key marketing metrics (if any) are being tracked, and what the source of the data is. 

From there, we’ll typically map out a funnel or a customer journey map. Then, we’ll put together a 12-month marketing plan that gets you to where you want to be. We’ll highlight what channels to focus on and create a high-level strategy for each channel. 

Website audit

We often get requests for website redesigns. Before starting, we like to conduct a website audit. 

Our website audit will give us insight into two areas:

  1. Brand: whether the site reflects the messaging and visual identity that you envision.
  2. Functionality: how the site is functioning and what is needed for each to be optimized to reach your business goals.

We review your site for quality of design, messaging, and site architecture. We also do an SEO overview audit to see what kind of organic traffic your site is getting and what kind of keywords you’re currently ranking for. We review any Call-To-Actions (CTAs), including checking for CRM or other software integrations.

We review the functionality to see what it’s like to interact with your site as a prospect or customer. On the technical side, we run a Google Site Speed Test and GTMetrix to determine technical optimization, as well as reviewing current plugins. 

Once we have a picture of how well your website is working, we’ll put together a plan for getting your website where you want it to be. This often includes a mix of improving the technical aspects of your website alongside improving messaging, graphics, and on-page SEO. 

How can an audit help you understand your brand and marketing? 

Audits help us develop a clear project scope of work, but they can also help you understand your own brand and marketing better. 

When we conduct an audit, we have an outside perspective. This can help you understand how others see your brand and can highlight strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. 

Weaknesses and opportunities then become a starting point for defining and measuring the success of a project. 

An audit can also help give you ideas for next steps beyond the scope of the current project. We often provide more recommendations than is possible to address in one project scope. This gives both us and the client a clear direction for further work. 

Audits are a tool that delivers a roadmap from where you are to where you want to be. While they may delay the start of a project, audits ultimately help us stay on track with a project scope and deliver the best results. If you’re ready to take the next step and start your own brand, marketing, or website audit, contact us and we’ll get started.

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