Brand Strategy

2020 brand reflection | how to review your brand each year

Alright, team, we’ve almost made it out of 2020! While I know most of us want to leave this year behind, when it comes to moving forward with your brand, you’ve gotta look back first. In this article, I’m talking all about why you need to do a brand review every year, what you need to review, and how to review it.

What is a brand review?

With a good brand strategy in place, your brand is designed to tell your story, communicate your purpose, and exemplify your values. Part of an effective brand strategy is doing a brand review so that before you move forward with your brand, you understand where it currently sits in the market and how your audience currently perceives it. 

But what exactly is a brand review?

“A brand review is “a thorough examination of a brand’s health at a specific moment in time” – AYTM

It’s an opportunity to reflect on your brand, gather information and data about how it’s performing and coming across, and make intentional, informed decisions about how to move it forward. 

Why do I need to do a brand review?

Okay, so we know what a brand review is, but why do it? Why spend the time looking back when you could be looking forward? Well, I’ll tell ya! Here are three reasons you need to do a brand review:

1. To ensure that your brand is aligned with your vision

As a business owner, you want to have the most confidence that you possibly can that your brand is aligning with your vision, working with your mission, and moving you towards your goals. Whatever your mission is, your goals for 2020 were, and your message should be, you need to know that the branding you have is aligned with those things and communicating the right things to the right audience. Reviewing your brand allows you to regularly check in on your brand and ensure that you’re on track. 

2. To identify improvements and celebrate successes

Every year has its ups and downs, and building a brand is a continual process of iterating and improving. That means that chances are, you had some successes that we want to celebrate and implement again next year, as well as some things that maybe didn’t work so well or could do with some improvements going into the coming 12 months. 

If you tried new things this year that worked, it’s a great time to identify those things and ask: 

  • How can I replicate that next year?
  • What do I need to do to keep that going? 

And on the other hand, if elements of your brand didn’t go so well or could do with a spruce up, you can note those things and ask: 

  • How can I do this differently next year?
  • What do I need to do to improve this?

3. To give you direction for next year

Once you’ve looked back, seen how aligned your brand is or isn’t, and identified elements to keep and elements to ditch, you can confidently make an intentional and informed plan for next year.

You will know what actions to continue implementing, what projects you need to work on, and what things to stop focusing on so that overall you can work towards your goals next year. 

This means that instead of turning up to your desk in January and wondering what to focus on, randomly trying different things that might build your brand, you’ll have an actionable plan for what to work on!

How do I review my brand?

Okay, so now you know what brand reviews are and why they’re important, let’s talk about how to actually do them. There are many ways that you can take a look back at your brand throughout the year, but here are six ways that I recommend getting started. 

1. Do a self-review

Firstly, a gut-check with yourself is a great place to start when it comes to your brand. After all, this is your brand, so you need to check in on how you feel about it.

Get out your journal, open up your notes app, or whatever works for you, and ask:

  • How do I feel about my brand right now?
  • What parts of my brand do I think are working?
  • What parts do I think aren’t working?
  • How confident do I feel in my brand and why?
  • How much clarity do I have about my brand?

This will give you a great initial sense of where your brand is at, what you know about how it’s gone this year, and how you feel about it. 

2. Ask your audience

Of course, a brand is ultimately what your audience thinks of you, so to track how your brand is going, you’ve gotta ask your audience! 

To get a range of opinions from people who experience your brand in different ways at different stages of the customer journey, you can ask:

  • Current clients
  • Past clients
  • People who follow you but haven’t purchased
  • People who don’t know who you are yet!

And there are multiple ways that you can gather this info:

  • Surveys/interviews
    Firstly, you can straight-up ask your audience. Send them a survey, pop some polls on Instagram stories, or hop on a call with them to get their feedback. This is a great direct way of finding out what your audience thinks and feels about your brand.
  • Social listening
    Another way you can gather this info is to do some social listening. This means hopping on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other social media platforms your brand is on, and check out what people are saying about your brand, and how they’re reacting to you. 
  • Gather existing feedback
    And lastly, you can take a look at existing feedback you have from people in your audience. That could be testimonials from past clients, reviews from existing customers, or other emails and messages you’ve received throughout the year!

3. Know your numbers

Another way to review your brand is to look at your analytics. Now when it comes to your brand, numbers are not the be-all-and-end-all, but they can help paint a picture of where you’re at. Just know what branding is about perception, not about percentages, so if the numbers aren’t where you’d thought or hoped they’d be, it’s okay!! 

But when you do look at your numbers, here are some you can review: 

  • Social followers
  • Social demographics
  • Website pageviews
  • Website visitors
  • Website popular content
  • Website traffic sources
  • SEO keywords
  • Email subscribers
  • Email open rate
  • Email click rate
  • Sales numbers

By looking at your social media, website, emails, SEO, and more, this can help you see how your brand is resonating, who it’s attracting, how well it’s engaging, and more. 

4. Identify & rate your brand touchpoints

Now’s also a great time to do an audit of all your brand touchpoints. First, let me explain what that means. 

“A brand touchpoint occurs any time a person in the marketplace interacts with the brand”

In other words, a brand touchpoint is any time that someone in your audience encounters your brand either in person or online. 

Auditing these means you can look at your whole brand and see what parts are on-brand and which parts aren’t. This includes your brand identity, the visuals, the messaging, the feeling, the experience, and more. 

For example, along the journey of a customer finding, purchasing, and receiving your products, the touchpoints they encounter could be:

  1. Instagram
  2. Link in bio
  3. Website
  4. Opt-in
  5. Newsletter
  6. Store
  7. Receipt emails
  8. Packaging
  9. Product
  10. Follow-up emails

It’s important to make sure that over time, you reach a point where all of these touchpoints are on-brand and aligned with what you want your audience to experience. Auditing them means you can see which ones you can improve on next year and pop into your annual plan!

5. Do a SWOT analysis

When you’ve done all of this reviewing, it’s time to do an overall analysis of what you’ve discovered. A super simple way to do this is by doing a SWOT analysis. This means identifying your brand’s: 

  • Strengths (what’s working well for your brand)
  • Weaknesses (what’s not working well for your brand)
  • Opportunities (where your brand can improve or get ahead)
  • Threats (what could stop your brand from moving forward)

You can pop these into a table, or just list them out, and think through what you’ve found out throughout this brand review to give you an overall analysis of your brand this year. 

6. Wrap up and plan

And lastly, it’s time to wrap up and plan. 

After your SWOT analysis, you’re going to want to note your key findings about your brand.

Some questions you can answer to do this include: 

  • What have you learnt about your brand in this review process?
  • What has worked this year that you can keep doing?
  • What didn’t work as well this year that you can change?
  • What area/s of your brand do you need to focus on improving next year?
  • What key messages do you want to get across next year?
  • What top 3 actions can you do next year to improve your brand?

Then it’s time to plan for next year, set your goals, and put some action plans in place to make it happen! 

At the end of this process, you’ll have a full annual review of your brand that ensures you’re aligning with your vision, highlights your highs and lows, and gives you a strong, actionable direction for next year. 


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Hollie stands resting her hands on the white desk behind her, wearing a black t-shirt tucked into orange pants and clear glasses, and smiling into the camera.

by hollie arnett

The brand coach for creatives, hand-lettering artist for herself, and cup of tea lover forever.

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