How to do a brand audit Technique 1: Gain Brand Insight From Your Customers

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In our previous blog, we looked at the brand audit – introducing you to the auditing process and why it is important. Now, we’re going to be looking at how you put the theory into practice, introducing you to the first of three simple techniques that make up the brand audit. Technique 1 is gaining brand insight from your customers.

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How do you gain brand insight?

Conducting qualitative and quantitative brand research with your customers will give you a broader view of their perceptions towards your brand. As with any research, the most robust methodology will include information taken from multiple sources. Here are four of the many the common and effective methods you could use:

1. Interviews and surveys – Customer surveys and interviews are a great way of efficiently gathering views and opinions of your, brand as they involve the collection of data directly from individuals. This could be by direct face-to-face personal interviews (either individually or in groups), by telephone, by postal questionnaires or online. Surveys will provide you with the quantitative insights for brand research, enabling you to understand customer opinions across a wide spectrum. We personally love Typeform, an online form-building tool that is not only useful in gathering information, but is also easy and simple for users to navigate.

2. Group interviews and workshops – Workshops or group interviews provide useful insights into underlying attitudes and behaviours towards a brand. They usually include six to eight respondents – who represent the target group you’re auditing – and the group is carefully guided by an interviewer, whose role is to introduce topics, clarify responses and guide the sessions.

3. Employee brand research – Including and engaging employees is important from the beginning of the brand audit process.  Employees will: 

  • Value being participants in the process and being asked to contribute their opinions.

  • Enable you to form a starting point in building an accurate depiction of your brand’s image;

  • Uncover views towards your brand that you may be unaware of;

  • Provide insights into what prospects and customers may think of your brand;

  • Disclose whether they are working towards the same strategic goals;

  • Highlight potential challenges with your proposed brand strategy

4. Reviewing/building customer personas – Customer or buyer personas need to be updated in order to keep them current and in line with emergent trends. Personas are simplified fictional representations of your customers, which enable us to picture the type of customer we’re trying to attract and relate to as real humans. Don’t currently have a collection of buyer personas?  Now is the time to start thinking about creating them – they will transform your marketing efforts and many other areas of your organisation.

Specifically targeting a prospective buyer’s wants, interests and situation, means creating a better customer experience, likely leading to repeat purchases. Brands should recognise:

  • Their target audience;

  • The context of their visit;

  • The likely adoption of their product or service.

Steps To Gain Brand Insight From Your Customers

When conducting your customer research, here are some general hints and tips:

  • Ask simple questions – you will receive better responses and explanations.

  • Look for both emotional and rational responses – this will help build a broader picture for your brand research and help you understand why your customers choose one brand rather than another.

  • Don’t let any assumptions or views you may have, influence the discussion – facilitate, rather than lead, to ensure accurate insights.

Here are four key steps to ensuring effective customer research.

Step 1: Establish brand awareness, perception and associations

Focus groups are very effective in measuring brand awareness, accompanied by surveys and social intelligence to build and inform a broader picture. These brand metrics are often used to assess the impact of large-scale ad campaigns by big businesses in the context of the classic AIDA model of achieving brand lift.

 AIDA - Brand metrics. Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

AIDA - Brand metrics. Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action.

However, you should use surveys to determine how your customers perceive your brand. Even better, utilise surveys to determine your brand’s perception and its awareness compared to competitors. 

  • Are people aware of your brand?

  • Do they recall it, unprompted?

  • Are they familiar with what it offers? (e.g. range of services in value proposition)

Establish what people think about your brand. Asking the following questions can lead to answers on brand perception. 

  • What does the brand signify for your customers?

  • Can they associate the brand with adverts or other communications?

  • What do customers think of products and services underpinning the brand?

  • How do these perceptions benchmark against competitors’ brands?

Typeform is a form builder in which you can add multiple choice image options and gather customer feedback.

 Typeform interface

Typeform interface

Step 2: Select your sample carefully

Forming a sample of different types of people, who represent your population, is an effective way of achieving qualitative insights. When forming your sample, clarify the base population, the method for sample selection and its size.  Here are a few pointers when doing so:

  • Include customers and employees to provide you with a broader picture.

  • Ask open-ended questions – you’ll gain deeper insights into perception, as well as real opinions and emotions towards your brand.

  • When selecting your sample, decide whether probability (random) or non-probability (defined) sampling is more relevant.

Survata is another form building tool that goes one step further, as it allows you to determine your target audience. It also provides specialists who can review your survey to make sure you’re asking questions that will deliver valuable answers.

 Survata interface

Survata interface

For best practice, ensure that your sample fits with your personas. Improving focus on surveys by finding profiles representative of personas, will lead to the best results.

Step 3: Utilise your employees to find the gaps

During the brand audit process, the kind of information you should be determining from your employees includes:

  • How do employees define the current brand?

  • Do you want them to define the brand as such in the future?

  • Do employees know your vision and mission? If you have a strong brand, your employees will demonstrate a similar understanding and tell the same story.

  • Do employees show an understanding of your organisation’s strategy?

  • Individually, do your employees understand the purpose of their role and how it meets the long-term objectives of your organisation?

Your employees will help you to find out what gaps exist between internal and external perceptions of your brand. They can act as key players when emphasising an element that requires prominence.

Conducting employee research prior to the creation of the brand strategy should enable you to gain an understanding of the amount of the change required internally, in order to implement a sustainable brand promise.  Including employees in the brand audit process should also encourage them to effectively represent the evolved brand.

Step Four: Use your intelligence to personalise the customer experience.

An improved understanding of your customer personas through the brand audit process will provide instant benefits to your organisation. Through discovering the wants and needs of your customers, you can distinguish what is important and meaningful to your target markets.

When creating or auditing your buyer personas, you should establish:

  • The individual’s demographic profile;

  • The appropriate communication channels;

  • Their values;

  • The tone of voice that will effectively engage and influence them.

Your objective is to unearth areas of need in your strategy, identifying opportunities and defining or re-defining goals. Hubspot’s MakeMyPersona is a good tool to use for generating your personas. It asks you a series of questions about your ideal customers and makes sifting through all this information relatively easy.

 Example of a buyer persona

Example of a buyer persona


As well as asking your customers questions, ensure you gather insight from key platforms such as website analytics, digging into conversions already achieved and looking at conversations on social channels. The insights gained into your customers’ motivations, preferences, values and dislikes, will enable you to perfect a personalised customer experience.

This concludes one of the three simple techniques that make up the brand audit. Over the next blogs, we’ll be looking at the following techniques – gaining brand insight from social media channels and gaining brand insight from your competitors – ensuring you know how to put the theory into practice, resulting in an effective brand audit.

If you have any questions about brand audits or need help in managing your brand, we’d be happy to talk to you. Either call Kate Armstrong on 01900 269840 or email Alternatively, see how else Blue Shadow Marketing can assist your business.