Brand Inventory 101
GUEST POST from Sierra Kellermeyer
Have you lost track of your brand?
At some point during the time you spent planning your business, you probably sat down and got your visual brand sorted out—or you at least designed a logo and picked out a few fonts. But it’s been a while. Since then, you may have lost focus on your brand, focusing instead on the day-to-day operations of your business.
If that sounds like you, it’s time to take a brand inventory.
What’s a Brand Inventory?
A brand inventory is gathering all the pieces of your brand and assessing their worth individually and as a whole. It’s to see what you have, what needs work, and what needs to be created.
Why should you take a brand inventory? Here are three good reasons:
1. It helps you see the bigger picture: When you’re focusing on day-to-day business tasks, you’re probably not thinking about strategy or branding. There’s nothing wrong with that; those tasks need to get done. However, if you’re only giving yourself time to focus on the most pressing things vying for your attention, you won’t be able to make big plans for your business. A branding inventory allows you to take stock of what you’re putting into the world on behalf of your business. What you put out greatly affects the conversations and clients you’re pulling in and the direction your business is heading.
2. It helps you find weak links: If you don’t have a brand manager or a strategy for creating your marketing materials, it’s very likely your branding has strayed a bit from your original guide. The more materials you’re creating for social media, your blog, email marketing, etc., the more likely it is you’ve created things that don’t quite fit with your original brand. A brand inventory will help you see what’s working against your brand.
3 .It helps you identify opportunities for growth: By stepping back and looking at all of your materials at once, you may see a big gap in what you have—a gap that, if filled, could help you reach more people or make your social media marketing more effective. You may see you’re not promoting one of your services very much, or don’t have much social proof (testimonials, referrals, etc.) outside of your website. Maybe you’re doing something well, but could be doing more of it.
When to Take a Brand Inventory
An anniversary: There’s never going to be a time in your business when taking a brand inventory isn’t going to be helpful. Anniversaries or milestones are a good time to reflect on where you’ve been and where you’re going, and a brand inventory should be part of that.
Repositioning: If you’re thinking about changing something about your business, especially if it relates to the services or products you offer or the people you work with, you may want to conduct a brand inventory to see what part of your brand doesn’t reflect those changes and will need to be updated.
Expansion: Maybe you’re not repositioning, but you’re planning to expand your current offerings or marketing strategies. A brand inventory is a good tool for analyzing what’s working and should be used in your expansion.
How to Take a Brand Inventory
STEP 1: List your target audience and goals
Your why should guide your brand. Your brand’s number one job is communicating the why. Before you can evaluate how well your brand is doing at that, you need to get super clear on your why. Why do you love what you do? What values do you offer your clients? Who do you work with and why them?
STEP 2: Start with your brand guideline
If you don’t have a brand guideline, now is a good time to make one. The simplest brand guides include your logo and logo variations, two or three brand fonts, and your color palette. If you use a lot of photography in your business, you should also include three to five photo samples that reflect the style of photos you use. This and your why are what all your branded material should be judged by.
STEP 3: Assess your website
Your website is your brand’s home on the web. It’s the most important piece of branding for most companies because that’s where they find buyers and/or close sales. Grab a notebook or open a word processor and comb each page of your website. Take note of anything that doesn’t align with your why and brand guideline. Also, note any areas you could see adding onto.
STEP 4: Find all your brand touch points
Next, you’ll want to gather all your brand resources outside of your website. This includes social media graphics, newsletters, business cards, email footer—everything. Do the same for these that you did for your website—find things that don’t match your why or guideline. It’ll take time, but there are no shortcuts in an inventory. Use the same notebook or document you used for your website. For now, don’t worry about organizing your thoughts—just take thorough notes on what needs to change and any ideas you get for new materials.
STEP 5: Make a to-edit list
Taking your list, and referring back to your website and brand touchpoints if needed, create three lists:
—To edit: All the pieces of your brand that only need minor edits, such as changing the color or font.
—To replace: Any graphics you’ve been using that are off-brand and need to be replaced completely.
—To add: All the ideas you had for new graphics you could add to your website or marketing.
STEP 6: Create a schedule
Your three lists are helpful on their own, but if you really want to commit to a strong brand and follow through on the lists, make a schedule of when you’re going to complete each task. A tool like Asana is very easy to use and helps you schedule tasks easily and all in the same place. When scheduling your lists, start with the most important items and work your way down.
That’s how you conduct a brand inventory! Remember, creating a cohesive and powerful visual brand isn’t a one-time task; it takes constant work and attention. However, having a polished and professional brand is always worth the energy.