Last year I launched a free summer branding course and a very special bunch of girl bosses got to go through seven steps (or spells, as I call them) and transform their brands. And now, I’m releasing parts of that course, so you can do the same.
But first, let me ask you this: When was the last time you took an hour or so to analyze what’s working and what isn't in your business? When was the last time you've made an informed intuitive decision about the direction you should take? Yep, it's important yet we rarely do it. We are all running like crazy “to make it” without realizing that stopping and looking around is part of the running process.
Where to start?
The first step you should take, before you even start thinking about changing direction or re-branding, is to evaluate what you have so far. This is what an audit is. Think of it as tiding up your house — it’s not a good idea to go a get a new set of pots while you’re old ones are still filling your kitchen cabinets. First, take out everything you have, thank each and every item for serving its purpose and decide what to do with it. Make sure you’re not throwing away your favorite cooking utensils, just because you’re sick of the chaos in there.
What is a brand audit?
It’s a bunch of questions you ask yourself so you can evaluate your business at this moment in time – your story and core message, your readers and customers, your brand design, your offerings and income, etc. If you've grown your business slowly and mindfully, you won’t have much to do. But if you’re hustling to build your tiny online empire (and we all do just that these days) you'll most likely need to take a step back and look at what you’ve created so far. Don't forget to congratulate yourself — be proud of your work and of yourself, no matter where you are at your business journey.
Do I really need to audit my brand?
Oh yes. And it’s a good idea to do it once every year, too. It is very beneficial to see how your brand has developed through the last 12 months and adjust its course, if needed. And in the following 5 cases you’ll definitely need an audit to know what to do next.
If you’re RE-BRANDING
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it yourself for if you’ve hired a designer, you have to know what you need, what you have, and most importantly, what you want.
If you’re changing direction
If you’re making small changes, for example, if you’ve decided to offer services instead of products, you might need to reorganize your business accordingly. Audit your brand and see if and how you can improve your design, message and website.
If you’re stuck and don’t know why
The best thing to do when you’re stuck is to stop and ask questions. And this is what an audit does. By answering simple and not so simple questions you can find out what’s missing, where you’re wasting energy and what to tweak to get out of a rut.
If all you have is a logo
If the following thought ever crossed your mind, you most definitely need an audit: “I don’t need a brand, all I need is a logo and I’m good to go.”
Well, as your business grows you might discover that you actually have a brand, just not an intentionally created one. Your brand comes to existence through more than just your visual elements. The way you speak to your audience, your Instagram photos, your blog design, how quickly you answer your emails – it’s all part of your brand.
Your brand design might be incomplete and simple, but your brand doesn’t have to be. Do the work and see what you can create on purpose and with intention this time around.
If you’re just starting out
“Oh, but I don’t have a brand yet” is what you're thinking and you'll be right. Almost. If you are starting a one-woman-business YOU are the brand.
So, take the afternoon off, brew yourself the best tea you have (I’m currently loving the pure matcha tea my Mum gave me), get your bullet journal out or a blank sheet of paper and a pen, sit at your kitchen table (preferably near a window) and give it a good hard thought. Evaluate what YOU have. What do you want to put in that new business of yours and what not. You have a blank canvas, use it to create your masterpiece.
How to audit your brand
OK, now that we got the why and what, let’s get to the how. There is a workbook for you in the Library and you’ll go through it using the Capsule Wardrobe method. My guess is, if you’ve been living on Earth for the last two years, you already know what a Capsule Wardrobe is, but here’s the definition anyway: “a collection of a few essential [interchangeable] items of clothing that don't go out of fashion” (sourse).
To create a Capsule Wardrobe you take everything out and sort it in four piles, or in our case—folders (sourse).
Take out ALL brand elements you have so far and one by one decide if they serve your current needs and goals. Create the following four folders:
- I love it and I’m keeping it!
- I like it a lot, but it doesn’t work for me "as is" so I need to make minor changes.
- I like it a lot, but it doesn’t work for me at all anymore. It’s probably time to say goodbye. To make the farewell easier I'll keep it in storage for a year and I’ll delete it / archive then.
- I don’t like it and it doesn’t work for my business. I’m deleting it / archiving it for good.
Follow your instincts and take decisions with your head AND your heart — it takes both to be sure.
10 questions to ask yourself
I've collected ten questions that will help you review and evaluate the state of your brand and decide what to do and where to go next. Download the workbook, get that steaming cup of tea and let's get to work.
Do you feel the need to evaluate you current business operation? What is the first thing you'd change? What do you love and would want to keep? Let me know.