How to Conduct a Brand Audit with an Alignment Map
No matter what business you are in, your brand identity starts with alignment of your products or services, organization and customers
There are thousands and thousands of businesses trying hard to make a name for themselves. So how can you increase your chance of success? How can you meaningfully differentiate yourself from your competition? Conduct a brand audit with an Alignment Map.
Building a memorable brand identity can give you an edge over your competitors.
Regardless of how large or small, mature or early stage your business is, brand identity is your key to success. Memorable brand identity begins and ends with alignment. Aligning your product, organization and financial fit can create a better customer experience. The better your customer experience, the better your chances of success.
There are plenty of reasons to focus on improving your brand value:
- Customer experience
- Repeat business
- Business Valuation
- Strategic Alternatives
You want to maximize enterprise value when you consider a sell-side M&A process.
Brand identity should be your focus
It is all about how your brand looks, feels, communicates and fits with consumers. Product (or Service) / market fit is an important factor that can influence the overall experience of your customers and makes you memorable.
From relevance to trustworthiness, everything is shaped by your brand’s identity. No matter what business you are in, building a brand identity should be your focus.
Insanity has been described as the impulse to keep doing the same thing over and over again in the hope of getting a different result. Innovation, in contrast, is applying a minuscule, ingenious twist to the exact same thing in order to achieve a better outcome.
The true definition of creativity is knowing how to inject just the right amount of madness into a process so that you attain your goal. This is the purpose of your alignment map.
Here are a few tips that can help you use an alignment map to build a memorable brand identity.
This is the purpose of your alignment map
As important as it is to have a clear path to success, few executives stay on top of all the granular details that construct their big picture strategy. Fewer still actively assess developments in their industry and measure how their own micro successes and failures impact future opportunities by following an alignment map.
Executive teams often have one or two principles in mind they believe to be universally true regarding the demand for their products or services. Then they ignore the rest of the landscape. They often disregard critical analytical considerations. Over time this can cause irreversible isolation with damaging consequences.
So how do you keep your strategy on track and keep your products/services, organization and financial management disciplined, fit and aligned?
Conduct a Brand Audit
The first step to creating a memorable brand identity is to determine where you currently stand in the marketplace. You should conduct a thorough brand audit to see how your business is performing in the eyes of your customers.
This will help you:
- Determine the current position of your business
- Discover the strengths and weaknesses of your business
- Identify the expectations of your customers and align your offerings accordingly
- Figure out the sentiment your brand is generating among customers
This exercise will help you identify what’s most important to customers, and what you can do better to be more memorable.
But how can you do a brand audit?
A thorough brand audit includes both internal and external factors. You should check, monitor and evolve your:
- Product (Service) / Market fit
- Organization / Market fit
- Finance / Market fit
Now that you know what the elements of alignment involve, you can check, monitor and evolve them to create a memorable brand identity. This can help you discover ways to accomplish what you want to achieve.
You should also take time to talk to your customers. You can run polls or conduct online surveys. It is important to do so as no one knows better about your product of services than your customers.
While a brand audit can show you the real picture of your current position, it is useless if you don’t devise a strategy to overcome the highlighted issues. In order to establish a memorable brand identity, you should address all of the issues identified during the alignment map process.
Transcend and Transform
To transform your business you must align every component with your long-term business strategy to build lasting value.
Here’s a look at what it involves:
Want some perspective on the areas in your business that are doing well? How about finding room for improvement?
After all, don’t you want to build all the value you possibly can?
Maximizing cash flow is great for business, it’s great for you and it’s particularly great for building value when it’s time to be acquired. Business valuation is the primary goal for all entrepreneurs and management teams. Maximizing that value is the goal of every business owner when they decide it’s time to sell. This is the importance of the business valuation spectrum: there are a number of approaches to business valuation.
The fair market value of a business is the price a willing buyer will pay a willing seller in an arm’s length transaction where both parties are duly informed of the relevant facts.
Product / Market Fit
It is important to understand your target audience, your market, to create a memorable brand identity. To do this you should create a customer persona. This can help you identify the minimum features, functions and benefits of your product or services.
When you know what your audience prefers, you can test your product or services against audience standards. You can also compare your product or services to those of your competitors.
Research other brands in your niche to see how they’re marketing their products. Next, ask yourself what makes your brand stand out from all of your competition. The unique selling point (USP) of your brand is what you should focus on while creating a brand identity.
Unique Selling Point
Use your uniqueness to tell customers whey they should choose your brand over your competitors. Your USP could be anything. Maybe your product or services are better, faster or cheaper. Whatever it is, make sure it’s what your audience wants. And make sure you highlight it well.
You should incorporate your USP into your logo, tagline and other branded content whenever possible.
You already know the smallest details about your business. But if you want to effectively communicate then to others, you need to be clear in all of your branded content. Ideally you should clearly define your goals and vision for your audience. It will show the real purpose of your product or services, your brand.
If you want to make your branded content effective, make sure to keep it simple. Avoid using technical language or difficult words. Make your message about your customers. Be sure to include your audience in your purpose. Remember, a memorable brand identity must be memorable to your audience.
Keep it concise and on target.
Organization / Market Fit
Just like people have different values and traits, brands too need to complement what they stand for. The goal of creating a brand personality is to create a personal connection with your target audience.
Making that connection is everyone in your organization, whether behind the scenes or interacting with your customers. Consistency is a big part of being memorable. Confusing your audience can alienate and deter customers from buying in.
Logos, fonts, color schemes and taglines are all a part of creating a brand personality. To create a memorable brand identity you need to verify what resonates well with your target audience.
Because your brand needs to be consistent everywhere, your culture needs to be consistent everywhere. Keep that in mind when developing your organization chart, training materials, objectives and bonus/promotional incentives. Keep that in mind also when designing your logo, website, social media pages and posts and any other branded content. Whether digital or printed.
You only get one chance to make a first impression, so do it well.
Consistency will familiarize your audience with your brand quickly and make your brand more memorable. The goal is to make your logo or tagline so popular that people will immediately associate it with your brand.
Not only does consistency help with brand awareness, but it also affects sales. Consumers are more likely to buy from brands that maintain consistency. Consider creating a style guide to ensure your entire organization adheres to your consistency and messaging.
Finance / Market Fit
Along with personality you should also work to create an authentic voice for your brand. Your brand’s voice will determine how you interact with your customers via branded content and on social media. It will reflect your brand’s value proposition and support your unit economics. Your customers will participate on social media platforms to support your product or services successes in solving their problems.
Do you want your brand to be casual or formal? Do you want to appear universally appealing or technical and unique? Answer these questions based on your target audience’s preferences. Further, understand your audience’s Marginal Utility to Price (MU/P) ratio to price your product or services for success.
Investing in and profiting from doing what you love makes it a business.
For all businesses, creating a memorable brand identity is essential. It can help make people think about your product or services when they see a particular shape or hear a tune. It’s what makes your brand stand out from the rest of your competition.
When you’re creating a brand identity, you need to pay attention to the details. Follow the strategies mentioned above to create a memorable brand identity.
Alignment Map Process
ALIGNMT’s Alignment Map is a comprehensive process where we dig in to all things Strategy, Finance and Operations to highlight Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats so you can focus on building value from the inside out. We help executive teams pinpoint precise ways to maximize productivity, efficiency and profitability by diving deep into the following topics:
- Stage of business life cycle
- Defensible competitive advantages
- Size and growth potential in markets served
- Market share
- Diversity and stability of revenue
- Quality and depth of management team
- Brand recognition and reputation
- Barriers to entry
- Type and quality of assets
- Financial condition and ability to provide for ongoing capital requirements
- Ability to generate free cash flow and/or pay dividends
- Economic conditions in industry and financial environment
Alignment Map Benefits
The benefits of our Alignment Map will give you unique insights and guidance to build tangible value in your business. Learn how to:
- Button up every aspect of your business to build sustainable revenue growth and quality of earnings
- Gain expert knowledge of all the internal and external variables that are relevant to your business, industry and M&A environment, and know how they impact the value equation
- Present yourself with unquestionably professional, relevant and accurate materials that describe everything great about your business, its products, services, people and unique positioning for a great, profitable and meaningful future
When it’s time for strategic alternatives involving an M&A process, we will also show you how to:
- Run a tight process bringing the most relevant and viable buyers to the table and keep them on schedule with clear expectations, timely and precise communications and absolute confidentiality
- Make a truly informed decision, there’s no going back. The M&A process takes time, it’s complicated and requires extreme attention to details—it’s intended to result in a successful transaction for both parties. When a buyer invests their time and money to submit a viable acquisition offer, take it seriously. If you pass, it’s probably gone for good.
What are you waiting for?