Conducting online brand audit

Today, I’d like to show you step by step how to conduct a basic online brand audit. Since we are in the middle of the winter, and given that I live in Montreal, I chose “ski resorts in Eastern Townships” as my topic (Mont SuttonSki BromontMont Orford and Owl’s Head.) I chose these ski resorts, because they are my favourites. I love them all. My goal is to show the best practices so that other brands can improve themselves. Mind you, this is an online audit; so I am not talking about the actual resorts. Similarly, I am not evaluating to their marketing collaterals either.

Keep in mind that online brand audit is quite a methodical task. You may want to print webpages and create a big collage. Or maybe you use Evernote. The key is to keep a record of everything because we are going to accumulate a lot of information. For every brand, we will check three fundamental things: the brand’s websites, its online footprint and its visuals. This will be fun. Let’s see what we find out!

I always start my audit with the brand’s website. At this point we are trying to understand what the brand currently claims about itself. Highlight the key messages on its landing page. Pay particular attention to the “About Us” section. Most often this page contains facts, meaningless numbers and a soulless narrative. However, this is where your brand should communicate its story to the world! Check if there is a compelling narrative on the About Us section. Your personality, your values, what you stand for should all be reflected. That said, we like it better when those messages are subtle. You want the reader to feel that s/he’s personally addressed. As Chris Grams suggests, print out those pages and highlight key words and themes. If your brand does not have a compelling story here, then it won’t be compelling elsewhere.

Winner: Mont Sutton by a landslide. Here is how the brand describes itself. Doesn’t it make you want to go there? Wow!

Our second stop is Google. Type the name of the brand and see what the first official entry says. Mind you! Most often your brand is not what you say it is. It is what Google says it is! Do you convey a clear message on Google? Be succinct and compelling. Try to capture your core with that short message.

Winner: According to Google, Ski Bromont has the clearest and most complete message.

Next, we will check the brands’ online presence. Look at their Twitter accounts. Go to their Facebook pages. Read the Wikipedia entries about them. Here are a couple of things to pay attention to on Twitter:

  1. How does the brand describe itself on Twitter? Is it consistent with your existing findings?
  2. Does it use a colloquial language? Or does it treat Twitter as a channel to push news or sales?
  3. Is it visually consistent with its website?

Winner: Owl’s Head. The brand is very approachable on Twitter. It responds to messages in an informal way. Feels like it is a member of a close-knit community. Also it does not overuse its Twitter account to promote its offers. As a rule of thumb, 1 in 4 messages should be about your promotions and the rest should be just conversation. Finally, is it possible to dislike that funny Owl?

Next, look at the brand’s Facebook page. Here is what you should pay attention to:

  1. How does the brand describe itself on Facebook? Is it consistent with your existing findings?
  2. Does the brand focus on engagement or sales? Does it respond to messages from its fans?
  3. Does it reward its fans exclusively?
  4. Is it integrated among all channels?
  5. Does it offer customer support/service?

Winner: We have two winners: Ski Bromont has the largest community and it responds to its fans punctually. Mont Sutton too, deserves credit because of its Facebook Tree Planting campaign. That said, all of the mountains can learn more from studying the Facebook page of MAC Cosmetics.

Last, check the Wikipedia entry about the brand. Wikipedia is an entirely open, transparent platform and your brand is fairly naked there. That does not mean that you can’t participate though. People check your Wikipedia entry to get detailed information about you. Here is where you should list all the facts that you usually post on your About Us page. Spoil the readers with information. Aim to satisfy the knowledge thrust of your biggest brand advocates. Pay attention to these:

  1. Is there a Wikipedia page about the brand? How extensive is it?
  2. Is the content one sided? (Positive or negative) Or is it neutral?
  3. Can you find absolutely all the information you are looking for?

Winner: None. Although Ski Bromont has the most complete entry, it is far from tapping into its great potential. This is where all four mountains should study Whistler Blackbcomb.

Finally, analyze brand elements such as name, logo, tagline and overall look and feel. Here are our winners:

  • Name: We don’t have a winner here, as all ski resorts are understandably named after the respective mountains they are located at. That said, we realize that Ski Bromont has a brand architecture problem: The brand’s name is “Ski Bromont”. That said, the resort is open 4 seasons and even the Aquatic Parc or biking sections are under “Ski Bromont.” That creates confusion.
  • Logo: Seems like Owl’s Head really nailed this one. Their iconic owl is ageless. It makes the brand approachable and its simplistic design makes it cool… Actually, very cool. Sutton is the runner up.

  • Tagline: Mont Orford and Ski Bromont communicate the size of skiable area. I prefer Mont Orford as “3 mountains” clearly communicates grandeur. Either way, I think these two are better practices compared to Owl’s Head, which lists its services. Sutton does not use a tagline.
  • Overall look and feel: Sutton has by far the best website. It is a treat for your eyes. The natural wood concept is consistently applied everywhere. Actually, Sutton has one of the best websites of ALL mountain resorts – not just among the ones in Eastern Townships.

Of course, this is just the online part of our brand audit. Nonetheless, if you follow the above-four steps, you will be able to find many insights about your brand. What do you think? Fire your comments!

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6 Replies to “Conducting online brand audit”

  1. now with a new laptop am 100% back like MJ23 back in 1995- though I need one more item. working on some of your basketball discuss. Will be done to comment soon. What am about to say does not concern the subject at hand, it will be nice to have a corner for general comments or questions like I asked in Richard Branson said something in the New York Times captured in our local Daily The Punch Newspaper ( about REVERSE PSYCHOLOGY. Well am doing research on the massive publicity on the MASSIVE PUBLICITY generated by Nigeria’s Olympics National Basketball Team- D’Tigers; loss to the U.S 2012 Olympic Basketball Team.

    They even had a standing ovation by the crowd in some of the matches due to their ability to manage things- (certainly the most popular team after the U.S in terms of remembrance). France just managed to beat them

    Many here in Nigeria (with a massive love for soccer, which is what it is due to government patronage but soccer’s not performing well enough & many are tired of the long term poor performance-(i)Professor of Sports Admininistration & Psychology at LASU, Ademola Onifade says “A lot of Nigerians who don’t want to watch Nigeria play soccer- … may have to with their frustrations with Nigerian soccer teams over some time and to that extent it is psychological” (Businessday, December 2-4, 2011 p23) (ii) Fred Edore ‘”SWAN” Lagos Chair’ in the same publication says “again, young people don’t really feel any more connection with our national team soccer teams, they have not seen the teams play great football in their lifetime. It is the older, who recall the great days of the Odegbamis, the Keshis who still feel some semblance of attachment to the teams. Young people have no such reference and do not feel any emotional connection.” (iii) (iv)According to renowned sports expert Mumini Alao “there has being no street protests by Nigerians youths to denounce the BON position not to buy the rights… ( This is unlike Nigerians.) who don’t know basketball that much but love any thing Hip-hop (Nigeria is the second vendor of Hip-hop music globally after the U.S- (i) (ii)
    Jaw-dropping Dance Steps from DNMT@Faceoff 2012. WoW!! This definitely is beyond entertaining to get a standing ovation from the celebrities at the FACEOFF 2012… Dance Na D…

    ) feel that that was poor publicity.

    Many here are not even aware that our problem was due to unmaintained injury caused by financial constraint back in the qualifiers in Venezuela .

    As a entertainment & sports marketing enthusiast, all I see is possibilities- no such thing as negative or poor publicity; as every one who matters knows of that lose. In my own view D’Tigers is as popular as the U.S team- if only it can be capitalized on for financial rewards.

    How can reverse psychology etc be used effectively to captive the eyeballs or wallets of 170 million people; +100 million mobile spend among others. Put in mind that D’Tigers don’t have the kind of patronage soccer has with the Federal government.t I am hoping Mr.Branson will join as am sending him a mail as well.

    Are you getting ready?


  2. Hi Ohio,

    Good to hear back from you. Unfortunately, I cannot properly answer your question about reverse psychology. But I can definitely offer some food for thought.

    I think a case that you have to study is the emergence of soccer in the USA. I think those guys had a long-term plan and started a grass-roots approach. Decades ago they focused on little kids, and promoted soccer as “the” sport to them. It had a spillover effect on their families. Over time, soccer became a relevant sports in the USA. The moral of the story is this: With the right plan and approach, you can make something relevant but not dominant. Football is America’s passion and baseball is their pastime. You have to accept it the way it is and try to create a niche for yourself. In order to do that, you need to focus on a segment and build a community of interest. Eventually, organizing big events (World Cup etc…) can help you spread your message. Also you need to put a face (or faces) to your story. People should be able to identify certain names with your initiative, they should be able to read their stories and want to be like them. Turkey’s 12 Giant Man is a very smart and effective initiative that lasted more than a decade:

    I hope this helps.

  3. 1. I agree with you. This I had in mind; I have confirmed that that is the approach if we look at it from the N.B.B.F (our own USA Basketball) marketing initiative- which I don’t think exists. Unfortunately it is more political than corporate/profit. There are good people their ready to work but…. What I would like to focus on is how a private for profit Sport Company seeking to break through into the market can go round things- especially with a massive global publicity that is perceived negative here.

    Check out these data.
    (b) Economy: GDP- $273bn (2011)
    -growth rate 7.68%
    (c) Communication: GSM +90mn active lines (2010 est)/ Over 100 gsm lines (2012 est)
    -40% in Lagos (
    (d) Internet: -163% investment in broadband (2013)
    – ¬electronic transfer to hit 7.2tn by 2014 -Foreign investment in stock market= 39% increase.)
    (e)Media Activities: +30% of media activity going to mobile

    Now all it has is the fact that (i) Hip-hop is huge here & basketball is the number one hip-hop sport. (ii) Soccer at national level can’t (due to long term poor performance etc) help maintain unity- the reason our Federal Government is hard pressed to fund well (only) & control it. That is killing other sports as they get peanuts. Due to that poor performance leading to non appearance in the CAF Nations Soccer Cup 2012, Nigerian Media lost +N3bn (N=naira) according to Sports Marketing International magazine (SMI) April/May 2012 p41.

    Soccer needs a sidekick for maintaining unity or a competitive alternative to make it sit up and achieve its’ purpose for both the government & corporate Nigeria & its’ Advert/Sponsorship agents. (iii) Then there is the case of transparency (from the sports associations at federal/state level) which corporate Nigeria frowns at.

    (iv) Soccer has not allowed tit self to be used (even if all was well with it) to grow other parts of the economy especially the emerging ones like the console games sector worth +$20bn global market some few years back, comic sector with Marvel Entertainment raking in +$5n for just sales of licensed merchandise in 2010 ( Sport is not really considered a business here at Federal/State level but there are calls for change from other sports. Patrick Ukah CEO (SMI) & Chairman Hockey Federation of Nigeria says SMI Nov/Dec 2012 p4; ‘I saw the need for two major issues in Nigerian Sports to be addressed & urgently too. Professionalizing Sports Marketing & professionalizing Sports in Nigeria. If the government can show genuine commitment in giving the private sector the opportunity to develop sports… I’m sure we will get somewhere’. In the same magazine Oluwagbenga Oyebanji said in p60 ‘Sport in Nigeria is subsidized heavily by government which has discouraged private sector & consumer spending towards this direction’. To be fair neither has the Hip-hop music; fashion; film sectors but they were single handedly created & catered for by the private sector not government (only soccer has this patronage).

    Basketball (using more of its American Nigeria players who have a community following in the U.S- a country Nigerian businesses also want to have a hold on) can do that well, if a private corporate company can convince corporate Nigeria or its Advert/Sponsorship agents that the so called poor publicity is what it needs to enter a new market or markets; since basketball is the best from research to penetrate & build emerging sectors. During the Olympics (2004/2012) Nigeria’s were seen seeking a medal from any of the participating events; basketball was one of the sports that represented Nigeria (the girls impressed in 2004 but won only one- a classification- match. The men- no pon intended- impressed during the global qualifications in Venezuela beating Greece, Lithuania).

    Nigerians were ready to give the support to any team (soccer did not represented at 2012) even if they didn’t understand the rules of basketball or really followed due to life event programming etc. Funny in 1998, soccer was having issues thus basketball was king temporary. The 7up basketball league was the toast of the youth & the national team won new hearts & even did well at its first global event at senior men level. Lack of government patronage killed the uproot.

    Other sport can do it too. Even if following of our domestic Lawn Tennis is non-existent there was a massive turnout of people- women (who are not so interested in sport) in particular- sponsors & the media. ‘Attracting… Williams’ sisters to Lagos ‘is’ indeed the biggest marketing feat of this decade-SMI Nov/Dec 2012 p54. And I realized Nollywood & Hip-hop music did because Corporate Nigeria was (still is) getting tired of under-performing soccer. I don’t think one should wait for that non coming government patronage. As brand management & communications enthusiast we should like Michael Jordan said on his twitter presently (April 9-11 2013) ‘don’t wait for an opportunity, create one’ (although one has created itself). A way has to be created to capitalize on the massive publicity & its hip-hop connection.

    In my own view a communication strategy is required using all/some of the players who represented Nigeria last year, probably international faces/brands of basketball that equally seek to make new revenue from our economy- (i) (ii) David Stern says Africa is important-, (iii)The realization of Africa’s potential as the next economic frontier is currently taking place. This forum will bring to life the people, ideas, and initiatives behind this effort as well as highlight the work and achievements of those in the diaspora.-;(iv); domestic celebrities & brands to motivate people to watch the qualification round of the qualifiers for the first FIBA World Cup or at least pay attention to the players. From there use the players ( Anything American tends to sell globally- Things They Don’t Teach you in business Harvard school by Mark McCormack; Published 1984 p), to further press corporate Nigeria to invest in basketball at national & private level (a private team like AND1 Mixtape Tour/Nike Battle Ground Tour etc).

    For any company to create an opportunity or capitalize on a bad/poor publicity to sell business idea in today’s market place especially Nigeria’s, there has to be a paradigm shift in business approach just like how the NBA marketing heads did with the now worth $2.1bn NBA China Inc (Google: Entrepreneurship a good play for NBA in China)

    It is a fact that whoever enters (am speaking about corporate entities) a market first (‘Just as in Real Estate… the real money is made by those who get in early’-It’s Time For Network Marketing by Robert G. Allen et al; published 2007 p81) especially Nigeria’s I.M.F certified emerging economy in this era of global recessions, tends to control it. ‘As with any opportunity, timing is half of it & execution (marketing & strategy- mine) the other’- It’s Time For Network… p315. ‘A good portion of almost any sales effort is spent over coming objections. Don’t try convincing a buyer (Corporate Nigeria or its Advert Agent) that his objectives not valid (which are?- mine). Concentrate on altering his frame of reference’- What They Don’t Teach You… p. I know this but would like to know your own marketing & strategy approach- if they tally with my own or need adjusting. I feel they the players should be positioned as (i) The C.E.Os of Hip-hop Basketball as we have The C.E.Os of Hip-hop music (ii) a side kick or an outright alternative to soccer for maintaining unity & generating revenue for Corporate Nigeria & its Advertisers (iii) an economic tool for expanding the frail economy via wealth creation & distribution.

    2. Any case studies on marketing & communication strategies on the growth of American soccer & more on any other sport or entertainment or industry, do forward.

    1. Hi Ohio,

      To answer your 2nd question, I haven’t read it myself, but this book looks promising.

      As per your first question, I can’t tell you how to position them as I am not intimately involved with the subject. That said, I think the link I sent you (Garanti Bank from Turkey) is the way to go for your project. Garanti Bank as the primary sponsor of the (mens) National Basketball team, positioned the team as the “12 Giants” and has been running TV campaigns for almost 10 years. During that period, Turkey organized both the European and World Basketball Championships. Those two events galvanized the masses and magnified the brand’s voice. I don’t think anyone ever had a long term vision. It was a promotional idea, which became very popular and somehow found a way to survive. A good short-term solution could turn into a brand.

      Good luck!

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