Research and Discovery: Preparing and Presenting Your Audit Readout

by | Jun 11, 2018


This article continues examining, in depth, the parts of the branding process that I introduced in my e-book, 17 Mistakes that Can Harm Your Brand. In the book, I outline five phases of the branding process:

Over the last couple of articles, we have gone over the various parts of the Research and Discovery phase of the branding process. During this phase you’ve been busy gathering information related to what your brand needs to be. As you have gone through each part of the Research and Discovery phase you should have gathered some helpful and insightful information. All of the research you’ve accomplished to this point will help guide you through the other phases of the branding process. You’ll have an understanding of the items that need to be covered in a brand style guide. You’ll have the starting blocks for your brand values, brand purpose, and brand strategy. All of these should start to come together because you should have information from all the topics we’ve covered up to this point:

Clarify Vision, Strategies, Goals, and Values
Interview and Coordinate Key Management Members
Research Stakeholders Needs and Perceptions
Conduct Audits
Evaluate Brand and Brand Architecture

When it comes to the information gathering of the Research and Discovery phase what do you feel was the hardest part? Let us know below. With the audit readout portion of this phase of the branding process, you may feel confused and unclear about what to do with the vast amount of information that you have collected. Do you include this or that; what do you cut vs. what should you keep? There is a secret that I’ll share in a moment, first let’s focus on your audience.

The Audit Readout Audience

If you remember, back in the Interviewing and Coordinating Key Management Members ection we outlined the people that should be interviewed. These are the people that you have already identified as your audience. Your audience needs to include the people that you identified as being the key management members. Does this mean you need to include every single person on the list? No, just focus on those who are key decision makers. This MUST include at an absolute minimum every person on your C-level team. Once you have your audience selected and identified, you need to move to the scheduling of all everyone’s time for a meeting.

If it is “just you” in your business, you still need to review the audit readout. Allow yourself to give the focus to your readout the same as you would in a larger company. Invite some of the people you may have had help you with the other parts to discuss your findings with them. They can serve as a sounding board to ensure that what you’ve found makes sense.

The Audit Readout Meeting

Your executive team members are busy individuals and scheduling time with them can be difficult. As soon as you’re ready, work with the executive team members to establish a date that allows them to be in attendance for the readout. Depending on your business size, some of your executive members might have executive assistants. Use their help in identifying and coordinating times. Stress the importance of attending the meeting. Often the readouts allow for questions to be raised and answered with the data you provide. When one of the executive members is absent they will undoubtedly have questions when they read through the readout, and that can cause a delay in moving forward with the other phases in the branding process.

The Audit Readout Meeting Agenda

In setting up your meeting, make sure that everyone attending understands that the purpose of the meeting is to go over the audit readout, not anything else. The agenda can be sent out with the invitation which can help with acceptance of the meeting. Give your agenda a timeframe and make sure that you’ll be able to follow the timeframe you set out.

The Audit Readout

Earlier we talked about how hard it might seem to determine what to keep and what you can exclude from your audit readout. I told you there was a secret; here it is: include only the relevant information. Honestly, that’s it. If you think about it for a moment, you’ll realize that you already know, through all the work you’ve done, what the relevant information is. However, if you’re still wondering what is relevant, the answer is simple easy—the material that pertains to the clarified direction the brand should or shouldn’t take. Leave out any ambiguous, vague information. If you found that the majority of people felt the brand best focuses on specific areas, and you found that no one else in your market focuses on those areas, this is a major takeaway. If you discover that no one in your company knows the brand goals, this is another major takeaway to include. You want to highlight the possibilities, inconsistencies, and the key differentiating factors.

Once your brand audit readout has been completed and you’ve scheduled the meeting with your executive team, you need to realize that the branding process is not yet done (but you’re making great strides). During your meeting, take notes and document the responses to the information you have presented. You then move to the second phase of the branding process, clarification and articulation. In this phase, you take all your hard work and begin to move all of the results from phase 1 into a unified positioning statement.

It is important for you to remember that you are on the path to making your brand better. We’d love to hear what your biggest “aha” was. Was it something you hadn’t expected or was it a better understanding of something you already thought about your brand?

 Ideas To Make Your Brand Better Now:

  • Compile all your research data and information into a detailed report
  • Set up a meeting with the appropriate individuals and share your findings
  • Let us know what your “aha” moment was
TERMS click to expand or collapse

C-Level Executives: Refers to the titles of the top-level senior executives within a company. These individual’s titles tend to start with “C” such as; Chief Executive Officer(CEO), Chief Financial Officer(CFO), Chief Operating Officer(COO), Chief Marketing Officer(CMO), Chief Information Officer(CIO). Sometimes referred to as C-Suite or simply C-Level.

Brand Purpose: The reason for a brand’s existence. Purpose is about what you do and not just what you say. Brand purpose moves beyond a brand’s promise or its potential. It establishes why a brand exists beyond just the idea of making money.

Brand Strategy: A company’s long-term plan for the development of a brand into a success. Brand strategies include goals and affects all aspects of a business.

Brand Values: The heart and soul of a brand. Impacts every part of a brand from new hires to the CEO and owners.

Brand Position: How a brand defines their target audience, competitive differences, brand solutions, and their unique selling proposition (USP).

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