Standing out from the pack is harder than ever. One sure way for brands to differentiate themselves: make your consumers feel something. You’ve got to reach the consumer on an emotional level. it’s been proven that brands that can master emotion have the potential to drive more sales. According to Psychology Today, “Advertising research reveals that emotional responses to an ad has greater influence on a consumer’s intent to buy an ad (more so than the ad’s content).”

Emotion has bottom-line value for big and small brands alike. It’s the key to building stronger brand advocacy, and of course, generating more revenue. From Forbes, “To create valuable, sustainable customer relationships, great brands don’t sell customers on contracts—they seduce them with connections.”

Evaluating your identity

Your identity as a company is composed of several interactive components, including:

Your company name and tagline Your logo, signature graphics, and company colors Sounds and styles that characterize your company Your voice and tone of messaging

Surveys are one of the most important tools you can use to accomplish this. Internal surveys, distributed within your company, give you an objective overview of your team's opinion on the overall brand. External surveys, distributed to your current customers and potential customers, give you a better sense of your target audience's perspective on your identity.

Some example questions to ask include:

How does this logo make you feel? What are your first thoughts when seeing it? Does this tagline accurately and concisely convey the mission and identity of the company?

Is our written material appealing? If so, what do you like about it? If not, what turns you off?

What, if anything would make you like this brand more? What would make you like it less?

Evaluating Your Strategies

Once you have a solid understanding of where your identity fits in the present, you can look to your current marketing strategies for an objective analysis of your performance. Some of the metrics you should look at include:

Web traffic data, including how many new visitors you receive and where they're coming from Marketing channel statistics to compare the effectiveness of your different messaging platforms (e.g., various social media platforms, traditional advertising, etc.) Return on investment for your various marketing campaigns Brand awareness in your target demographic

When you start analyzing your strategies, you'll also want to do a competitive analysis. Find out what your competitors are doing, who they're talking to, why they're talking to them, and how effective they are at it. Seeing your competitors' recent efforts can give you a good sense of whether your brand is falling behind. Again, objective data is what's important here--find out as much as you can about your competitors' overall reach, sales revenue, and brand awareness compared to yours.

Making an Action Plan

Deciding what to do once you have all the information is the hardest part of the process. From a pure branding perspective you have three major options:

Keep your identity the way it is Overhaul your identity Keep your identity, but refresh it to more closely align with your company goals

Most brand audits result in a pursuit of option three: it's a compromise that maintains your brand for your loyal customers but adjusts it to compensate for your changing environment. Once you make the decision for your brand, you'll need to put together a full action plan for rolling out the changes, including an extended timeline and clear delegation of responsibilities both inside and outside your company.

Whether you opt for a full rebrand or just a handful of simple adjustments, it's important to follow up over the course of the next few months and measure the results of your efforts. Only then will you be able to determine whether the rebrand was successful, or if further adjustments are necessary. Branding is a recursive process that responds to its environment regularly, so perform brand audits every few years to measure your identity and performance against your goals.