Conducting an Online Brand Audit
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- Keep an eye on where the logo is published around the web
- Check that your logo has not been copied by another brand
- 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.
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!
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.
- 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
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.
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.