Building a strong brand is being given increasing priority in the professional services sector. A cluttered market place, global competition and increased regulation surrounding privacy mean that brand stories must be well executed to achieve stand out.
For years many businesses, including law, accountancy and investment firms have based their success on the work, relationships and reputation of partners in the firm. The greatest percentage of new business will still come from word of mouth recommendation.
That said, three things are now igniting the need for these firms to invest in their brand as well.
Previously, the norm for partners was to work at fewer firms for longer and build strong relationships over time. Now there is a tendency to not only move across firms but also across sectors and industries, compromising long and nurtured relationships with clients.
Enter generation millennial, Z and the next and client search processes are constantly evolving across the board. One thing that is certain, is that they are all using the digital landscape to search, evaluate and take action. The look, feel and credibility of a professional services firm’s website and other digital content is therefore crucial.
With layer upon layer of regulation governing the privacy of individuals in their personal lives and in business, the power is shifting to the buyer to reach out. Businesses have their hands tied in many ways, so they must present an attractive proposition across the board to be approached by clients. In other words, the shift is to a strategy of inbound marketing.
The solution is end to end branding…
If this is to yield the right results, the process of branding for a law firm, accountancy firm or financial management firm needs to be as well researched and calculated as the services provided by any great partner.
The challenges in driving a thorough brand audit and brand development will typically be complex and cannot be underestimated, often due to multiple decision-makers. However, embracing the firm’s combined expertise and knowledge with a vested interest should be the goal.
With this understanding, an engaged approach and methodical process, firms in the professional services have a scope of opportunity to move forward by embracing business development on a new level.
Looking for a new branding agency? Contact IM London on 020 7637 2614 or email@example.com — we specialise in marketing consultancy, branding and design, we’ll be happy to help!
Brand value is the intangible ‘premium’ that a brand represents in the minds of individual stakeholders and customers alike. From an internal point of view, brand value may be defined as an intangible ‘asset’ that generates economic benefits for a company.
Here’s a reminder of 10 areas to continuously consider when striving towards best in class branding:
1. Market analysis
An understanding of the market landscape is critical to positioning the business idea or ‘reason for being’.
2. Know your audience
… and communicate on both rational and emotional levels.
3. Set up foundations
Your story, reason for being, what you are aiming for and core values set solid foundations enabling focused growth.
4. Keep your personality
Brand personality is much harder to copy than a tangible product, meaning greater opportunity for ownership and originality.
5. Live your brand
From tangible brand assets to customer service, every touch point is a considered brand statement open to the market place.
6. Use all your brand assets
Written copy, tone of voice, colour, font style, iconography, imagery and video all have a place to develop your brand.
Can you reach out to and engage with all your stakeholders? Are you accessible to your target audience?
Being able to revive the brand to enable relevant communications with stakeholders is essential for growth and modernisation. This does not mean losing your core values or purpose – rather it is reinvigorating what you have to communicate that vision with your customers in a meaningful way that resonates with them at any point in time.
Contribute to the wider community – it makes everyone feel better.
Build your brand value don’t dilute it – be consistent with your communications to your target audience, the content you put out and any assets that your brand considers to be a cornerstone to its’ identity.
Branding during mergers and acquisitions should be well considered. Financial and strategic analysis and planning is applied in the process, but seemingly the line for brand value is less rigorously managed. Many mergers do not achieve the greater sum of their parts so the question is – is the brand being managed to optimise value as other assets are during this process?
Of the largest global companies, for most, more than 15% of their market capitalisation is in fact brand value (Brand Finance 2018). Taking the opportunity to maximise this asset requires consistent attention.
Some cornerstones to the process are mentioned here:
The investment strategy and rationale should guide brand architecture – that is, how the brands in question are integrated and the future links that may develop in time. Whilst branding provides stability to a vision and a collection of values there must also be scope for adaptability in the modern marketplace.
With clients, customers and guests at the centre of our businesses, minimising friction through change may need to be handled sensitively. It is important to understand a customer’s level of involvement with the brand, alignment with services and values and loyalty towards the brand and services. Very often this presents an opportunity to refresh the current brand(s) as a whole by reviewing the brand foundations.
As with most decision making, it is easier to take the team on the journey in order to get to the destination. It’s important to recognise the rational and emotional involvement for all stakeholder groups – management team, employee divisions, new and existing clients and investors. The brand journey will be widely interpreted and contribute to the brand and thus its market value.
Whether it’s an initial branding exercise, evolvement of your brand or a website refresh choosing the perfect branding agency can provide you with that advantageous leap forward. However, it can be challenging when deciding which agency might be most compatible with you and your organisation. So to prioritise your considerations…
Do your research and look at the types of work produced by different agencies. Does the agency have an approach that will incorporate all the practical, theoretical and emotional backdrop to your brand? Do you see your brand designed with the same approach?
Identify agencies with similar values.
Select the agencies that will respect your aspirations (vision) and values. Are their values similar to yours? Will the agency you select understand your business in the way you want it to be perceived?
A team you want to work with.
Seems quite obvious but results are achieved through skilled people working well together. Who would be managing and doing your work? Are they easy to work with? Do they respect your work in the way they should? Are they the right people for the job as opposed to the guys the agencies wanted to allocate?
It is a good idea to think forward. There are huge benefits in building a good relationship with your agency over time. Your needs will fluctuate but the consistency through your brand should not. Your agency can take a pivotal role in your brand guardianship and with a good relationship will be far more able to add value rather than simply order take.
As all disciplines become broken up into micro-units of specialisation having those agency or partnership relationships becomes increasingly important.