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Conducting an Online Brand Audit

29 January 2013 BY

There could be a number of reasons that you need to do an audit of a brand, and it is important that you look at lots of different measurements to ensure you are getting the right answers. There is no point analysing a brand without taking different metrics into consideration.

In this post I am going to run through the metrics that I look at when conducting a brand audit, which should help guide you through this process on a step-by-step basis.

To start with, I want to explain a couple of reasons why you might be looking to audit a brand:

  • You want to ensure you have everything in order with your current brand
  • You are looking to purchase a brand and want to review the brand beforehand
  • You work in an agency and are conducting an audit of one of your client’s brands

There will also be other reasons, but the above three are the key scenarios that spring to mind.

When you are performing an audit of a brand, your primary goal is to end up with a full summary of how a brand is appearing online and a list of recommended actions that need to be implemented to future-proof a brand.

In order to achieve this, I follow the steps outlined below.

1) Trademark

To start with, I always want to understand how protected a brand is – looking at the trademark is the best place to start. To check this, there are two methods that I would recommend using:

  • Company Logo
  • IPO Website

If a brand has their name trademarked, the majority of the time they will add a small ® at the end of their logo. In this example, you can see the ® at the top of the ‘a’ on the brand name and they have also trademarked the logo image as the ® is at the bottom of the ladies foot.

Interflora Logo

For a definitive answer, the best place to look is on the IPO website. There is an entire section dedicated to see if companies have any element of their brand trademarked – all you have to do is simply search for the company’s name. The place you need to go is a little hidden, so I would recommend bookmarking this link – http://www.ipo.gov.uk/tm/t-find/t-find-text/

As an example, let’s take Interflora again. You can see all the different elements they have Trademarked, and if you want to find out more information, you can click on the trademark number in the left hand column.

 Interflora Trademark IPO

Top Tip - Registering a trademark can be very time consuming and if it’s not done correctly, costly too. If the brand does not have one, but needs to apply, I would consider employing a trademark specialist to help you along the way.

2) Domains

When it comes to future-proofing a brand, domain TLDs are vital here. If you don’t have your brand trademarked and don’t secure the popular TLDs, there is nothing stopping someone coming along and setting up a company using that same name.

I wouldn’t suggest registering all the different TLDs, but you do need to consider the ones that are important to you and the business you are working for.

In the example below, I have taken Teapigs who have been around a good few years now. However, when you look at the popular TLDs that are still available, its left them a little venerable, so I would suggest registering them.

Teapigs Domains

Top Tip - On some domain checking sites, I have noticed that if you check availability for a domain more than once a day, it sometimes appears as being registered. If you then leave the site for a day and go back, the domain is available again. Although I have no proof of this, it could be that domain checking sites do this to add a sense of urgency to make you purchase the domain.

3) Social Properties

With so many social media sites popping up all the time, it is important that brands keep a close eye on this and secure company profiles before someone else does. This is particularly important for the more well-known brands, as a lot of damage can be done very quickly if a profile gets into the hands of the wrong person.

Also, if you don’t have your brand trademarked, it makes it very difficult for you to try and claim profiles back that you did not get round to registering yourself.

The screenshot below has been taken for ‘PenguinBooks’. What you can see is that 13 profiles are yet to be claimed.

Penguin Books Social Profiles

TOP TIP - Use a site like Claim Brand to check the availability of the brand name on the most popular social networks. You can then use them to register the profiles on your behalf saving you lots of time for just $279.

4) Logo Image Search

Your company logo is a very important asset to your brand, so you must:

  1. Keep an eye on where the logo is published around the web
  2. Check that your logo has not been copied by another brand
  3. Ensure you are not infringing on any trademarks with your brand

Going back to the trademark section of this post, there will be times when it is worthwhile getting your logo trademarked. This will all depend on your business and what assets you want to protect. Not all businesses will be the same.

In the below example, you can see the GMC logo and other logos that are classed as similar. Although this is not always going to be an issue, it is worth checking how similar your logo is to other brands out there.

GMC Logos

TOP TIP - Use the Reverse Image Search feature on Google to upload your company logo to see where it is being displayed online and whether there are any similar logos out there.

5) Page 1 Domination

You could be driving all the traffic in the world to your site, but if you have negative feedback about your brand sitting on page one of the SERPs for your brand term, this is going to put people off buying from you.

In this day and age, people research brands and products before they make a purchase. This is for peace of mind that they are investing in something good.

Take the below example of the page one results for KFC. All the listings, except for their own website, local listings and Wikipedia page are portraying the brand in a very negative light. I don’t know if you all saw the image of what was found in a KFC meal a couple of months ago, but it has certainly put me off eating a KFC!

KFC Page 1 Domination

TOP TIP - Set up a keyword rank tracking tool such as Advanced Web Rankings (AWR) to track the top sites that appear for your brand terms. Use Google Analytics to uncover what keywords people search for, including your brand so you can track the different permutations. Check this on a weekly basis to see what movement you have on these terms and what sites appear. This will alert you to anything new appearing on page one for your core terms.

To keep page one relevant to you, begin a comprehensive link building and SEO strategy to boost the relevance of the profiles you have control over. The core social properties are very easy to rank on page one for your brand name.

6) Brand Monitoring

Understanding what is being said about a brand online is very important. Years ago this task used to be a lot easier than it is today. However now, with the sheer volume of sites allowing people to have their say about brands, products and services, the task can now be very time consuming.

On the face of it, a brand can look like everything is going really well, but it is not until you start to dig a little deeper that you may find out things that are not very positive. There are a number of tools available that will help you to do this, some free and some paid. Whichever tool you decide to use, make sure that it looks at all the various sites listed below, so you can really get a good idea of the conversations being had about a brand.

Sites to Monitor
Paid tools I would recommend:

  • BrandsEye
  • Brandwatch
  • Trackur
  • Sprout Social

Free tools I would recommend:

  • Tweet Deck
  • Hoot Suite
  • Google Alerts
  • Social Mention

TOP TIP - Use this free brand monitoring dashboard in Google Analytics to help understand how your brand is being discussed online - https://www.google.com/analytics/web/permalink?uid=JM0gjr62Re6ojbnfBZfYoQb

7) Traffic

The last step on my list is traffic. This is especially important if you are looking to buy an existing brand/site. It could be that you simply want the brand because of the name, and don’t care about how much traffic is driven to the site, but this is something that I think is always worthwhile looking at.

Sitting down and having a look through Google Analytics for ten minutes will give you a lot of information, so it is a worthwhile exercise.

The main report to look at to give you an overview of the traffic is:
Traffic Sources > Sources > All Traffic > Medium

I like to look at the three core mediums (organic, referral and (none)) over the past 12 months to see how much traffic comes into the site. If you change the graph to show the data for each month rather than on the set daily graph, you can see a trend which hopefully goes in the right direction.

Source MediumTraffic

TOP TIP - Use the Panguin tool to overlay your Google Analytics data to see if the website has been impacted by any of the algorithm updates.

Panguin Tool

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AUTHORED BY:
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Samantha Noble is the Digital Marketing Director at Koozai, a Digital Marketing Agency based in Southampton and London and event and brand manager on State of Digital and part of the editorial team.
  • http://twitter.com/LisaLFlowers Lisa L. Flowers

    Great article and I’ve shared it to spread the love!

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Thanks Lisa, glad you found it useful and big thanks for sharing!

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  • Mark D.

    Thanks Samantha for suggesting Claimbrand.com , I’ve been searching for a service like that for a long time, because I grew tired of always loosing my brand username on new social networks, especially when there are so many networks to keep up with nowadays…

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  • http://twitter.com/albertorota Alberto Rota

    Great article Samantha! But the http://kooz.ai-brand-monitoring-dash link is broken…

  • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

    It makes life so much easier and being able to scan through 900 social properties is brilliant. Even though I haven’t heard of a large number of them, it is always best to get them registered as you never know which one will become the next Twitter!

  • http://www.trackur.com/ Andy Beal

    Thanks for including Trackur! :-)

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      No worries Andy, you are more than welcome :)

  • Rank Watch

    Good one Samantha. Monitoring a Brand’s reputation is very important especially on many different social media sites where users express themselves freely about a brand. ORM and blocking the other TLDs for the brand name and blocking social media profiles with brand name at the earliest is very important too.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Thanks for the comment Rank. Definitely, if you can secure your brand name on the social properties and TLDs to start with, you will be ahead of the game.

  • Shaun

    I really enjoyed reading this article, especially the information on Trademarks. I never really knew what the little R with a circle around it stood, or its significance. I feel it is very important for a business to develop a logo that others can identify them by. For example, when we see the swoosh mark, we automatically think of Nike. As you have mentioned, this can be very costly for individuals that are not yet doing profitable business. They should maybe consider a smaller scale trademark campaign until the budget allows for a bigger one.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      The cost of securing a trademark varies depending on a number of things including the class you want to register it in, the country and whether or not anyone disputes the trademark before it is accepted. If you have a business, it is worth speaking to a trademark specialist to get their feeling on it. They do this day in, day out and will be able to advice you on costs etc before you start the process.

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Thomas

    The information you have posted about domains is interesting. Some smaller companies will not bother registering anything but a .com. I think is because they do not feel the other extensions are important. The most common and sought after extension is the dot com.

    As you stated, they may leave themselves open to someone coming in and grabbing the other domains and possibly branding them for profit. Other individuals may also buy the domain to set up as a parking page to collect traffic. They then can find ways to turn this traffic into a profit.

    The average person may feel it a waste to grab every available extension as this can quickly add up. The business would need to evaluate the potential market for the business and purchase the domains applicable to their particular need.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      This is exactly right, not all businesses will feel it is necessary to purchase all the different TLDs but no matter how big or small a company is, I do think it is important to purchase the most common, sought after domains.

      I attended an event a couple of years back and GHD Hair were there presenting and explained to the audience how much time they spend every day trying to take down sites that are selling counterfeit versions of their hair straighteners. They have to deal with thousands of companies that have purchased domains that include ‘GHD’ within the domain name and then they sell the counterfeit products from there.

      Not a good place to be in.

  • Tina

    You bring up a good point with the Social sites. A business can
    easily build a following of fans, and communicate to them all at once. This is
    a different approach than email blasting as people see it being nothing more
    than spam. By securing the social site, the business can easily have access to
    a targeted market. I would think that if your name is branded or trademarked, you could make a case to the social sites to claim ownership of your name depending on the circumstance.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      I know a lot of the social sites will pay attention to the fact that you have a brand trademarked, but not all of them. Take Twitter for example, you will find it hard to get your company Twitter handle off someone who is using it but not as a treat to your brand. It is so important to try and claim them all as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

  • Amanda

    A person looking to buy a website would need to be careful when looking at reported traffic. Many individuals may buy a domain and drive paid traffic to the site in hopes to inflate rankings. If the buyer does not know what they are looking at, they will be surprised when they see the rankings and traffic drop not long after the purchase.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Could not agree with you more Amanda. If you are looking to buy a website and don’t know much about running a site or marketing a site, I would always recommend that you get someone who knows what they are looking for to analyse the data.

  • Lucas

    I like the idea of the reverse image search option in Google. It is amazing how much technology has advanced. It is best to shop around when getting a logo made if you do not have the skills do make one yourself. Some graphic artist will charge anywhere from $5 to several thousands of dollars depending on the work needed.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Very true, it is important to check that your brand logo is unique as it would not be much fun if you put in all the hard work only to have another company try to sue you for copying their logo! Thanks for your comment.

  • Sabrina

    First page positioning is crucial for any business unless they have already made a name for themselves. But, as you have mentioned if the business does not focus on getting those first page spots, competitors can easily rank those positions with sites that offer negative impact on the image of the business. It is very important to see what is showing up on the front page for your business name.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Thanks for your comment Sabrina. This is so true, but also negative posts can start to rank for your brand. If you do a search for ‘KFC’ at the moment, page one is full of negative listings about the brain that was found in someones meal. Not good for any brand!

  • David

    Brand monitoring is something that has changed of the last several years. One really didn’t have to worry about malicious things being said about their site or business. Now, individuals will hire people to go and post bad reviews about a competitor in order to cause damage. With all the sites out there, it is impossible to monitor them all.

    • http://twitter.com/Koozai_Sam Samantha Noble

      Thanks for your comment David. I wouldn’t say it is impossible if you use the right tool to do your monitoring for you. We use BrandsEye and it picks up mentions from the social media platforms plus other sites across the web. As ‘Koozai’ is a unique brand name, it does make this task a lot less time consuming so depending on the name of your brand, it could take a long time, even with the help of tools.

  • Jaden

    Thanks for the information posted here. How would one go about driving organic traffic to a website without having a large budget to do so? Also, what steps should one consider in order to get first page rankings on Google and Yahoo? I would assume this is a long process that changes regularly.

  • Michael

    I have found myself on sites before that allow individuals to list their website business for sale. One of the main concerns I always hear about, is the validity of the traffic coming to the site. This is why it is important to ask for data of 6 months or greater to make sure that the traffic is mainly organic and not paid.

  • Stephanie

    I am glad I ran across this article. I never knew so much work goes into fully developing a website. For the average person, we just buy a domain, secure hosting, and throw up a website. Occasionally, we may create a logo, but with no intentions of branding. I was particularly interested in traffic and ranking. This is something I will definitely have to look into.

  • Brian_Caldorin

    Hey there! Someone in my Myspace forgather shared this website with us so I came to work a hunting. I’m definitely enjoying the entropy. I’m book-marking and afford be tweeting this to my followers! Surpassing journal and consultive article.

  • Ketrinaah_Serapaz

    Well said Samantha! Your brand is the belief fill tally of your acting. It also distinguishes your products or services from your competitors. Your affiliate’s “attitude” and simulation pattern your variety, conscionable as your publicizing does. An examine symptom strengths and weaknesses in your name and uncovers inconsistencies in how customers, employees and others content your accompany.Thanks anyways.

  • Ribel_Anderson

    Hi Samantha! My sincere thanks for including Trackur in your itemize of extricated interpersonal media monitoring tools. Our actual strength shines through when you play monitoring lots of diametric brands or keywords–that’s when our dashboard timing helps a lot. Thanks again!

  • Rozhada_Anamika

    Really great summary of Online Brand Audit. Monitoring your brand can and should be the prototypic move for a visitant honourable turn their gregarious strategy. By virtuous perception you can instruct a lot nearly your society, products/services, customer operate, and new opportunities.Thanks for superb article.

  • Roche_Masakadza

    I am ever amazed at what tools are being industrial. Force like these are actually salutary. I give marker these sites and change a say to use them as our associate and barnd continues to get.Two fingers up for your nice article.

  • Solaiman_Omar

    Hi Samantha!You astonish me again! I had never equal heard of most of these. I jazz there are a lot of monitoring tools, but it’s ever respectable to somebody a recommendation from one of your choice bloggers. :)

    Thanks for the tips!!

  • Mike_Kiyoshahi

    Thanks for this eager identify of methods to set up perception posts, Samantha. I use Google alerts and RSS feeds for most of mine. Whatsoever of the tools you mentioned above seem to somebody any really informative features though. I increase you putting all these together in one position.

  • Dezmod_Raids

    Great tips! Thanks for these. I content I had my settlings drenched, but version this article I was already fit to undergo more mentions of our kind. I instrument definitely assets these with our clients. Most of them are smaller businesses and don’t ever feature the instance and resources required to varan the internet 24/7. These are all uppercase tools to ameliorate them change and control their brands online.

  • Chang_Brutsile

    Awesome article! Now-a-days Form Monitoring has become an constitutional strain for any organization. Your brands are your lifeblood and you requisite to live what’s being said some them online 24 X 7. Your insights present definitely ply to alter out the advisable.

  • Greg_Bonny

    Major orientate! Winners don’t do variant things, they do things differently. I try to do the same. I also mortal an another dashboard that I use to display competitors call and key words pertinent for our sector. Why? Patently because there is a lot of conversations feat on pertinent for our variety and our job without the participants wise active our call. Then this is a large way to happen those and then begin the conversation beingness the that unskilled multiethnic marketer you are. This is a eager way to move cover you
    marque and kind fill having a individual to your firewood as easily.Samantha,what do you think of it?

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