Once you have your brand statements and tone boards, you should also have a really really clear understanding of your brand. The next step is to zoom in on every part of your business to see how you can better align everything to this awesome brand.
Most small businesses start off kind of winging it, and that’s ok. You do what you need to do in order to get started. But there comes a time when winging it just doesn’t cut it any more. You want to attract more of your ideal clients, start charging what you’re worth, and grow your business. And that means you need to start being intentional about your brand.
If you haven’t been intentional about your brand, then chances are at least some of your stuff isn’t communicating the right message. You’ll have to invest some time looking at every detail of your business to see whether it’s working for or against your brand.
I know. I’m crazy, right? It’s totally reasonable to think I’ve lost it. Your business has a lot of moving parts and every moving part has its very own set of details.Looking at every single detail of every single thing in your business is a huge task, but hear me out.
An organized audit will help you find all the things that aren’t helping you build the brand you want. Without a systematic audit, you’re likely to end up picking at the problem here and there instead of really tackling it head on.Conducting an audit will allow you to create a strong actionable plan that focuses your efforts and keeps you moving in the right direction.
I know auditing your business is a huge task and can feel overwhelming. That’s why I broke things down into five general categories for you. Focus on one at a time and take as long as you need with each. Gather everything you have for each category and ask yourself these brand aligning questions:
- Is this aligned with my story and values?
- Is this helping me reach my goals?
- Is this resonating with my ideal client?
- Is this helping me fit in with the right brands?
- Is this helping me stand apart from the right brands?
- Is this communicating my brand tone?
Now for the categories…
- Client relationships
This is the one area that has by far the most impact on your brand. What your clients notice most about you is how you treat them and the way you make them feel. Your relationship with them is the strongest tool you have for building your brand.
Get your most common client process down on paper. Write out every step you take with a client, from the very first conversation to the goodbye package they leave with. Are your emails, phone conversations, meetings, and follow ups aligned with your brand? What kind of experience are you creating for your clients?
- Shop atmosphere
Whether you have a brick and mortar shop, an online store, or meet your clients at a coffee shop, that’s the next most important place to make changes. The atmosphere you create plays a huge role in how you make people feel.
Think about what it’s like to walk into your shop. What kind of experience are your colors, decor, displays, music, and layout creating?Is this a place your ideal client loves to spend time in? You can ask yourself similar questions no matter where your clients are interacting with your brand.
- Writing voice
Just because you’re a business doesn’t mean you have to sound cold and corporate. In fact, that’s just the thing that might turn your ideal client off.All of your writing should match your tone and brand, even if that means you might not sound your most professional.
Take a look at your emails, blog, social media posts, website, and marketing materials. Are you writing in the same consistent brand-building voice? Where can you insert a little more of your brand’s personality?
The only place you may want to keep a more professional tone is in your contracts and other legal documents. I’m not a lawyer, so check with your legal counsel on that stuff.
- Marketing plan
If you don’t have this written down somewhere, now’s your chance to get a summary down on paper.
First, take note of where you’re marketing. There are tons of options available, but the good news is you shouldn’t do it all. Are you investing your marketing efforts in the places your audience cares most about?
Then, see whether the actual marketing pieces align with your brand. Are you writing in the right voice? Are your images supporting your brand? Are your printed materials the right quality? Are you adding value to your ideal client’s day or only asking and taking?
- Visual identity
Your visual identity is an overarching system that visually connects all your brand touchpoints to one another. We’ve already touched on a few of its components here and there, but now’s the time to really focus in.
Start by gathering your visual identity building blocks: your logo, color scheme, patterns, textures, fonts, and photography. Do these work together to support your brand? Then, look at the design of everything from your business card to your website. Is there consistency throughout all your materials? Do they all work together to create a strong impression of your brand?
Take notes throughout your brand audit. Make a list of the details that aren’t aligned with your brand so you can come back to them next week and create an actionable plan.
Your action steps for the week:
- Gather everything you have for each category
- Answer the brand aligning questions for each piece
- Take notes on what needs to be better aligned with your brand