Why your small business brand audit should start before your small business has a brand to audit.

Wait, what… there’s no way to do a brand audit if you don’t have a brand yet, right?


Turns out, you had a brand the moment you conceived your business idea.

You see, a brand isn’t a logo, tagline or jingle. A brand is a promise you make, and an expectation your customer has of you.

Every small business owner has that.

A brand audit crystallizes your promise, and focuses your attention

A good brand audit should delve into what you think you do better than the competition, the type of customer that’s important to, and why it’s important to them.

This is your unique selling proposition, or usp. It’s also the best way to state your customer promise in a way that sharpens the focus of your business.

With a good usp, you stop worrying about pleasing everyone, which frees up time to really please the people who are most important.

A good usp enables you to sell products that deliver a specific outcome, versus products that just seem cool.

A good usp will keep you from advertising on every shiny new medium, and focus on the few media your core customers love.

A brand audit delivers the other elements of your brand

Many of the small businesses I audit have a placeholder name. That is, it’s a name they picked but aren’t in love with. If a better name comes along tomorrow, they’d be happy to modify their letterhead.

A good brand audit will help you understand what you do best. It usually also leads to different ways of expressing your superpower – which often can be shortened into a great name.

For example, one small business I worked with had the unremarkable name ‘Port Moody Refillery’. When we audited their brand, we discovered their superpower was stocking items that were sustainable, quirky, and ultra-high quality.

Their name became The UnMediocre Store.

By the same token, a brand audit can unearth visual ideas that express your superpower. It can give you the critical points of a great brand story. It can give you ideas on the perfect customer experience. All critical elements in a well-developed brand.

What do you need for a brand audit?

Truth is, you don’t need a raft of press clippings, TV commercials, graphic design palettes and social media banners to engage in a meaningful brand audit.

All you need is a bit of time to reflect on what you believe your promise to your customers is, and what your customers expect of you.

You also need a partner who can sift through your ideas, sorting the ones that are critical from the ones that are nice but not necessary. That can be your life partner, a good friend, or a mentor. I play that sounding board role for many of my clients.

Finally, you need a template to ensure you come up with actionable conclusions, not just fun ideas on post-it notes.

It’s not hard to do.

The trick is to get started. Even if you think it’s too soon to get started.

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