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All You Need To Know About Brand Audits

All You Need To Know About Brand Audits

All You Need To Know About Brand Audits

Find out what’s working, and what’s not, for your brand.

Conduct a brand audit, and you’ll be glad you did. Don’t skip this crucial step before you begin to rethink your brand.

What is a Brand Audit?

A brand audit is a review and diagnosis that helps you understand where your brand is at in comparison to where you set out to be.

The Brand Audit process helps (and makes) you think about your company on a deeper level.

It also helps you engage more productively with a marketing or design agency, which provides an opportunity for a deeper level of engagement.

A brand audit helps you identify: Where you ARE vs. Where you NEED to be.

When Should I Conduct a Brand Audit?

The moment you have the urge to rebrand. Companies often feel the need to rebrand when a change occurs.

While it may be time to rebrand, it may make more sense to revisit your value proposition, core values, mission, and brand messaging.

The Power of Branding, and What it Means

A strong brand builds awareness, creates loyalty and trust, inspires employees and creates a “buy-in culture.”

Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.

Your brand is also a group of assets that represent your visual identity (such as color palette, font, logo, and style), and the words used to describe your mission and mission (characteristics, differentiators and writing style).

The better a job a company does at mirroring its target customers in the identity of their brand, the higher the chances are that they will attract consumers who share similar beliefs, values, and interests.

If not, you may be missing out on a deeper level of connectivity that becomes possible when your awareness increases.

Knowledge is power – the more you know about a brand, the better you can analyze and tend to your own.

Understanding why your customers connect with your brand is essential to creating a brand that builds trust and affinity.

Brands & Trust

When someone says that he or she like or dislike a brand, what he or she might mean is that he or she like or dislike how the brand makes them feel.

For some, to think that you might have an actual emotional relationship with a company (also known as affinity) is startling.

But think about it. When you need a new pair of jeans, do you start by looking at stores you’ve never shopped at before or do you go to the store you know and trust?

Odds are you go to the store that reliably provides quality fitting jeans.

Trust is built between brands and consumers through consistency, via engagement and quality content.

Trust is what a brand builds with consumers when it communicates a consistent message through advertising, reliably provides quality products, and appropriately manages customer expectations.

If your brand perception doesn’t accurately reflect your company’s purpose, then you won’t be able to attract your ideal customers.

How to Conduct a Brand Audit

The level of complexity of a Brand Audit is based on the size and makeup of your business. The smaller the company, the easier it will be to collect all necessary documentation.

For large companies, you may want to consider hiring an agency like Pistil Brands to help you identify and collect various documentation.

You may try to follow a generic Brand Audit Template if you’re up for it, but do not expect extraordinary results.

Here’s a checklist to help you collect the right items.

The goal is not to collect every single piece of paper that your company produces, but rather crucial brand-related items.

If you have documented brand guidelines, you are off to a great start as most of what you need is recorded in there.

Follow these Brand Audit Steps and you’ll be well on your way to learning more about your brand.


Brand Audit Framework Checklist

Internal Documents

  • Positioning
  • Brand Values
  • Unique Selling Proposition, Brand Promise
  • Brand Voice
  • Culture

Product/Service Positioning

  • Brand Identity
  • Corporate Identity–logos and other brand elements
  • Collateral (printed collateral, stationery, brochures, trade show materials)
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Sponsorships & Memberships
  • News/PR
  • Content marketing and other assets (blogs, white papers, case studies, articles, books)
  • Testimonials
  • Videos

Systems

  • Corporate identity/brand standards
  • HR policies/on-boarding process
  • Sales process
  • Client touch points
  • Internal systems
  • Customer service systems

In-House Vs. Outsourcing the Brand Audit

There are distinct advantages to tasking a current employee (or doing it yourself) by conducting the Brand Audit of your business or outsourcing it to an experienced company.

Just because you can conduct your Brand Audit in-house doesn’t mean that you should.

We strongly advise bringing in an outside, objective team to lead you through the Brand Audit process.

You can help prepare for the initial Brand Audit meeting by gathering all of the information we’ve listed in the above checklist.

Collecting data in advance of your initial meeting is helpful for both parties, but especially your business because you will be prepared to answer questions and get feedback on elements that are of immediate concern.

Having as transparent as possible understanding of your goals will make the process that much smoother.

The Benefit of a Brand Audit

There are many benefits to conducting a Brand Audit. The key benefit is discovering if your brand is where you hoped it’d be.

A Brand Audit will tell you if you are heading down the right path and determine precisely where you are going wrong, and how to adjust course accordingly.

How a Brand Audit Works

When we conduct a Brand Audit at Pistil Brands, we usually hold them over the course of several meetings (either at your business, our office or via video conferencing).

The End Result

The result is usually a PDF document outlining our findings and recommendations for next steps.

We expect our clients to be as open as they can be with us, without revealing any sensitive information they’re uncomfortable about sharing (although we do encourage people to share as much as they can!).

The more we can get to know about your business, the better and more effective our Brand Audit will be.

A Brand Audit is a continuous exercise, conducted on a regular basis.

At a minimum, we recommend a quarterly audit of your website to ensure that its health remains in check.

Key takeaway:

If you want to utilize the power of branding, don’t skip the Brand Audit process.

Is Your Brand Telling The Right Story?

What story is your brand telling? It may be time to take a closer look at what your brand is saying about your business.

WordPress Vs. Squarespace

With so many platforms to choose from, researching the pros and cons of website content management systems may seem like a daunting task.

What Does The Word “Brand’ Really Mean?

You choose Nike over Adidas, Neutrogena over Oil of Olay and prefer Subaru to Hyundai, but do you know why?

Do You Trust Your Own Brand?

4 signs to help you confirm or deny if you trust your own brand.

Portland Trust Company’s Impact Investment Philosophy

Our team worked to create a clear message for Portland Trust Company’s diverse portfolio offerings through an impactful design approach.

Want More?

Get updates from our team.

We will never sell or share your information and you may unsubscribe at any time!

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Monday-Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time.

CALL US

@ +1.207.619.1733 to speak with a team member.

CHAT US

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EMAIL US

@ talktous[at]pistilbrands.com and someone will get back to you.

© 2018 Pistil Brands, LLC. All Rights Reserved  |  Website Privacy Policy  |  Website Terms & Conditions

WordPress Vs. Squarespace

WordPress Vs. Squarespace

WordPress Vs. Squarespace

With so many platforms to choose from, researching the pros and cons of website content management systems may seem like a daunting task.

Many organizations underestimate the importance of selecting not only the best platform for their website, but also the right one based on their current and forecasted needs, goals, growth, and challenges.

Unfortunately, many businesses underestimate the importance of selecting not only the best platform for their website to live, but also the right one based on their business needs, goals, and challenges. Many businesses aren’t even sure what they’re looking for.

For this reason, we’ve decided to compare two CMS solutions that our clients often ask us to evaluate, and ultimately to recommend the right solution for their business:

 

WordPress Vs. Squarespace

 

Key Similarities

Let’s start by talking about the similarities between WordPress and Squarespace.

Affordability

Both WordPress and Squarespace provide affordable solutions for website design and development. Though you’ll pay for different services with each CMS, the total cost for each platform starts around $20/month or less, which is significantly lower than many other applications out there.

Ease of Use

While many will argue that WordPress is not a user-friendly platform, at Pistil, we beg to differ. Though there is a bit more of a learning curve than with Squarespace, it’s not rocket science, and anyone with some technical knowledge and a knack for figuring stuff out shouldn’t have much trouble getting up to speed. Therefore, we’d classify both platforms as relatively easy to use.

Aside from the fact that they are both CMS platforms, that’s about all they have in common. Can they both be used to build eCommerce sites? Yes. Can they both be integrated with other applications? Yes. However, what these features look like on each platform are very different.

 

Key Differences

When it comes to talking about the differences between the two platforms, the list gets a bit longer.

Cost Basis:

First, let’s look at how the costs break down for each:

Hosting

WordPress is technically free. However, because it is a self-hosted CMS, you’ll need to purchase a hosting plan, which can start as low as $3.95/month through companies like Bluehost for a basic subscription, though we strongly recommend WordPress optimized hosting solutions such as WPEngine

Squarespace offers a hosting solution bundled with their monthly (or annual, depending on what plan you choose), starting at $12/month.

Domain Registration

You’ll need to buy a domain if you don’t already have one.

We recommend Google Domains for their simple user interface. Also, because Google Domains is a provided by Google, your domains will be purchased via your Gmail.com or other Google account, ensuring you one less login credential to remember or record. 

Software Components

Plugins are, as defined by WpBeginner, a software component that adds a specific feature to an existing computer program. When a program supports plug-ins, it enables customization.

There are thousands of free WordPress plugins, but we typically recommend buying premium plugins because the fee typically includes technical support and testing of the plugin software itself.

WordPress plugins (website software) or themes typically come with a small fee, though there are many free plugins and themes available.

How much you spend on your website depends on your customization and hosting needs.

 

Usability & Customization:

Squarespace

For those with limited resources (time, money, web skills) Squarespace may be the right platform.

Squarespace is a cloud-based platform, so there is no downloading of software or special installation required.

With that said, the website design options are quite limited – Customers can choose from a limited number of templates, and, while customization is possible, there is only so much you can do depending on which theme you are working with.

To boot, because of the limitations of Squarespace’s closed-source platform, most Squarespace website’s end up looking the same.

You don’t need coding skills when working with Squarespace, and you can preview your site as you’re editing it.

Squarespace is a popular choice for those who are in a hurry to get a website up and working in a short amount of time, and without requiring a person to be tech-savvy.

^ Emphasis on “hurry.”

Squarespace is a great short-term solution, but organizations begin to feel the limitations of the platform after about a year because, simply put, Squarespace falls short of customizability and adaptability.

 

WordPress

WordPress is not the beast it is often described to be.

However, because there is more opportunity for customization and flexibility, beginners can find this platform to be a bit confusing at first.

WordPress’ available features can be overwhelming for some. But in the end, those with a little bit of patience and a desire to learn often find that WordPress is worth any initial frustration that comes with learning a new program.

With the right web development team by your side, a WordPress website should be as easy, if not easier, to update than a Squarespace website.

Yes, technical skills come in handy if you’re considering building your site with WordPress on your own, and you have some basic HTML and CSS knowledge. Technical skills are not required if you’re working with a qualified team with web development expertise, such as Pistil Brands.

The ability to adapt and expand to your website in tandem with your business makes WordPress an ideal website solution for any organization.

 

SEO Optimization:

With SEO being a top player in today’s game of marketing and advertising, you can’t afford to settle when it comes to optimizing your site.

Knowing how Google views your website, what keywords you’re ranking for, and how to improve your search rank is critical to your online success in the long run. Squarespace does claim to offer SEO services, indicating that it’s all taken care of for you. Unfortunately, those who enjoy taking part in the SEO optimization process will be disappointed with Squarespace’s mysterious and generic SEO practices.

WordPress offers an SEO-friendly user interface, with pages and posts explicitly designed for SEO optimization, but it doesn’t stop there. By providing access to free SEO plugins like Yoast and similar applications, users receive feedback on how well they’re pages are performing, as well as tips for making improvements. Users may make changes on a much more granular level, resulting in greater involvement in the overall SEO strategy.

WordPress is a clear winner when it comes to SEO.

 

eCommerce:

If you’re looking to sell things online, Squarespace does allow for this, but the options are limited as far as payment processors go. As of the original date of this post, users may only accept payments via Stripe or PayPal.

You’re also limited in what your checkout experience looks like in Squarespace. While it’s easy to get an eCommerce site up and going, it may be difficult to expand and integrate with more advanced applications as your business grows.

WordPress offers several eCommerce plugins to choose from, many of which are free. According to WinningWP.com, “WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin around, powering around 30% of all online stores.” It is also easy to integrate with other applications, which makes setting up your online store and customizing it for your brand easy to do.

If you want more options to choose from, and a more customizable eCommerce platform, WordPress is the way to go.

 

Security & Support:

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate is an important component of your website’s security strategy. SSL certificates are required if you plan to process any type of payment on your website.

Squarespace includes an SSL certificate in all of the plans they offer. With WordPress, you are ultimately responsible for the protection of your site. Many hosting plans include SSL certificates, or there are also several third-party certificate providers to choose from.

Security Software

Because WordPress is an open source application, it does lend itself to more security vulnerabilities. However, when users follow best practices, security vulnerabilities and functionality issues are limited. Again, because WordPress is open source, anyone can create plugins. Therefore, it’s best to use only plugins from well-established vendors. These plugins get updated on a regular basis and are thoroughly tested before they are released. When you use plugin vendors with proper licensing, you will get the best results.

We recommend installing a comprehensive security plugin on your WordPress website to block hackers and brute force attacks. Our favorite is iThemes Security Pro.

While both platforms provide varying levels of technical support and maintenance to users, the WordPress community allows access to the knowledge of developers and users from around the world.

Conclusion

WordPress Packs a Powerful Punch.

We prefer WordPress over Squarespace for our clients because it allows us the flexibility to create a precise design, functionality that improves results.

If all of the above reasons aren’t enough to steer you towards WordPress, here are a few fun facts that may influence your decision:

  • WordPress powers 28% of the internet
  • WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, with approximately 15,886,000 websites on the entire web using WordPress
  • WordPress.org’s plugin database surpassed 47,000 in late 2016

 

Are you still unsure about which platform to use? 

Get in touch with Pistil Brands, and we’ll help you choose the best CMS for your business now and in the future.

Is Your Brand Telling The Right Story?

What story is your brand telling? It may be time to take a closer look at what your brand is saying about your business.

WordPress Vs. Squarespace

With so many platforms to choose from, researching the pros and cons of website content management systems may seem like a daunting task.

What Does The Word “Brand’ Really Mean?

You choose Nike over Adidas, Neutrogena over Oil of Olay and prefer Subaru to Hyundai, but do you know why?

Do You Trust Your Own Brand?

4 signs to help you confirm or deny if you trust your own brand.

Portland Trust Company’s Impact Investment Philosophy

Our team worked to create a clear message for Portland Trust Company’s diverse portfolio offerings through an impactful design approach.

Want more?

Get updates from our team.

We will never sell or share your information and you may unsubscribe at any time!

FOLLOW US

WE'RE OPEN

Monday-Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time.

CALL US

@ +1.207.619.1733 to speak with a team member.

CHAT US

on this page. We're ready to answer any questions you may have.

EMAIL US

@ talktous[at]pistilbrands.com and someone will get back to you.

© 2018 Pistil Brands, LLC. All Rights Reserved  |  Website Privacy Policy  |  Website Terms & Conditions

Is Your Brand Telling The Right Story?

Is Your Brand Telling The Right Story?

Is Your Brand Telling The Right Story?

It takes a lot of hard work to build brand equity.

Do you feel as though you’ve been working on brand development, but sense that something isn’t quite right – You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know that your brand’s perception is not on-point.

If this sounds like you, we’re here to help!

It may be time to take a closer look at what your brand is saying about your business.

What story is it telling? Is it telling the story you want it to? How do know if your brand is telling the right story – one that’s closely aligned with the values and mission of your business?

Here are 5 signs that may indicate your brand is telling the wrong story:

1) Your “Why” for doing business is or has become unclear to you.
Do you have a strong “Why” for doing what you do? Or have you lost your purpose or mission somewhere along the way? If you aren’t 100% clear on your “Why ” your brand may have gone off track. That doesn’t mean all is lost, but you’ve certainly got some rediscovering to do.

If you skip figuring out your mission, why you do what you do and what differences you want to make as a result, you’ll forever be missing a key ingredient to building an authentic and trustworthy brand.

If you don’t know or can’t define your “Why” how can you expect anyone else to? If you don’t get clear about your “Why” you may continue to attract the wrong type of client or customer.

2) You aren’t sure if you have a “brand” at all.
Do you know what makes your brand different than your competitors? Are you an established business or just getting started? It’s hard to know if your values align with your brand, if you don’t have one, or don’t know how to define it. It’s time to figure out what your brand is if you have one at all!

3) You are scared to be your authentic self in business.
If you and/or your team feel insecure during business dealings/interactions, that is a sign there is lack of clarity in your business. If your brand portrays values other than those you are passionate about, you may need to dig deeper. Don’t be afraid to let your brand be a reflection of who you truly are.

4) You are embarrassed to hand out business cards and refer people to your website.
Your business cards and website should accurately express your brand image and values – you should be proud to share them with everyone you meet! If this isn’t the case, it may be a sign that your confidence in your brand is compromised, which will make it that much more difficult to establish trust with potential customers. It’s time to figure out why you lack confidence in your brand, and what you can do to change that.

5) Your gut tells you that you are misrepresenting your business.
When in doubt, always trust your gut. If you feel deep down that your brand isn’t representing your business in the way you want it to, or feel that it should, then it probably isn’t. The tricky part will be figuring out how you went off course in the first place, and how to get it all back on track.

Do one, a few or all of these points ring true to you? If so, don’t fret! There is a solution. Yes, it will require some discovery and self-reflection from you and your team, but it’s absolutely possible (and trust us, it’s not that hard!).

 

Do you need help clarifying your story?

Is Your Brand Telling The Right Story?

What story is your brand telling? It may be time to take a closer look at what your brand is saying about your business.

WordPress Vs. Squarespace

With so many platforms to choose from, researching the pros and cons of website content management systems may seem like a daunting task.

What Does The Word “Brand’ Really Mean?

You choose Nike over Adidas, Neutrogena over Oil of Olay and prefer Subaru to Hyundai, but do you know why?

Do You Trust Your Own Brand?

4 signs to help you confirm or deny if you trust your own brand.

Portland Trust Company’s Impact Investment Philosophy

Our team worked to create a clear message for Portland Trust Company’s diverse portfolio offerings through an impactful design approach.

Want more?

Get updates from our team.

We will never sell or share your information and you may unsubscribe at any time!

FOLLOW US

WE'RE OPEN

Monday-Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time.

CALL US

@ +1.207.619.1733 to speak with a team member.

CHAT US

on this page. We're ready to answer any questions you may have.

EMAIL US

@ talktous[at]pistilbrands.com and someone will get back to you.

© 2018 Pistil Brands, LLC. All Rights Reserved  |  Website Privacy Policy  |  Website Terms & Conditions

Do You Trust Your Own Brand?

Do You Trust Your Own Brand?

Do You Trust Your Brand? 

Do you trust your own brand?

Here are 4 signs to help you confirm or deny if you trust your own brand:

1) When people ask you what your differentiators are, you’re unsure how to answer, and perhaps feel a bit embarrassed. 
We’ve all been there, but don’t fret because there’s a solution. If you are struggling with this, think about why it is that your customers buy from you. A great way to find out is to send out a survey upon purchase or project completion. Their answers may surprise you!

At Pistil, we send surveys to our customers at the end of every project. We glean SO much valuable information from these surveys, and our clients are happy to fill them out because it gives them the space to provide feedback they may otherwise not.

2) You make excuses when handing out business cards, or don’t hand them out at all because you keep “forgetting” to order more.
Do you often find yourself at a networking event without business cards? Did you “conveniently” forget to order more? Perhaps you are:
• Afraid to attract customers you don’t want
• Convinced you are undeserving of your target clientele
• Embarrassed by your cards, because they don’t reflect your values

Not everyone loves networking, but if you’re making the effort to attend a networking event, not bringing your business cards doesn’t send the right message. The message that sends is “I am unprepared and irresponsible.” Do you want customers to buy from you based on that assumption?

3) You get nervous around your direct competitors and similar professionals in your industry.
It’s a terrible feeling – the sensation that you’ve got a knot in your stomach – and you wish you could be anywhere else. What’s worse is that your fear is so palpable, you’re confident competitors can smell it from a mile away. The truth is, they may be able to. But who cares, because if you were confident in what you stood for and the value you had to offer, it wouldn’t matter in the least bit.

Perhaps you believe you are not good enough at what you do, and that others do it better (aka inferiority complex). Focus on what you have to offer and nurture it until it grows, and grows, and grows.

Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing – you will only pedal backward.


4) Your website looms over you like a black rain cloud – threatening to strike you with a thousand bolts of hard work.

Your website is the first place potential customers will go to learn more about your business and connect with your brand. It is where those searching for your products and or services may land and discover you. It’s also where you will capture new leads, by attracting visitors and inspiring them to convert from prospects to customers or clients. Simply put – your website is kind of a big deal (seriously)!

Does this sound all too familiar? Don’t fret! We are here to help you gain clarity on your brand.

 

Get in touch with us today to begin building trust with your brand

Is Your Brand Telling The Right Story?

What story is your brand telling? It may be time to take a closer look at what your brand is saying about your business.

WordPress Vs. Squarespace

With so many platforms to choose from, researching the pros and cons of website content management systems may seem like a daunting task.

What Does The Word “Brand’ Really Mean?

You choose Nike over Adidas, Neutrogena over Oil of Olay and prefer Subaru to Hyundai, but do you know why?

Do You Trust Your Own Brand?

4 signs to help you confirm or deny if you trust your own brand.

Portland Trust Company’s Impact Investment Philosophy

Our team worked to create a clear message for Portland Trust Company’s diverse portfolio offerings through an impactful design approach.

Want more?

Get updates from our team.

We will never sell or share your information and you may unsubscribe at any time!

FOLLOW US

WE'RE OPEN

Monday-Friday, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time.

CALL US

@ +1.207.619.1733 to speak with a team member.

CHAT US

on this page. We're ready to answer any questions you may have.

EMAIL US

@ talktous[at]pistilbrands.com and someone will get back to you.

© 2018 Pistil Brands, LLC. All Rights Reserved  |  Website Privacy Policy  |  Website Terms & Conditions

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