Six ways to build an extraordinary brand in your professional services business
There are so many professional services businesses out there that look and sound the same. So how do you build an extraordinary brand?
Whether you’re running a law firm, accountancy practice, architects, surveyors or an IT, HR or PR and Marketing Consultancy, you have to be able to stand out from the crowd in order to really succeed.
Growing beyond your own level of expertise with a small team is tough in professional services. But it can be done and one of the ways to do it is to build an extraordinary brand.
Step One: Build an extraordinary brand by demonstrating your undeniable brand truth
This is big! Your undeniable brand truth is your DNA. This is your purpose, the reason your business exists and why you get out of bed every morning excited and ready to serve your clients.
You have to first understand who you serve. This is a specific market or niche. You cannot serve everyone otherwise you end up serving no one at all.
You must dig deep to decide what your business gives your clients or allows them to do. The answer to this questions is the ultimate purpose of your business. This takes time to work out, so don’t rush it.
Step Two: Build an extraordinary brand by creating an instantly recognisable and iconic look
This is not what professional services businesses usually do. They’re so busy trying to fit in and look like everyone else in their sector that it becomes very difficult to tell one firm from another. Your brand needs to look and feel totally different to anyone else in your sector if you want to be considered extraordinary.
If your competitors have selected green or blue as their predominant brand colour, then you need to choose something totally different.
Investing in a good branding agency who understands that brand comes from the heart and not from the head is a wise decision all professional services firms should make.
Remember, this brand has to be iconic and instantly recognisable, so investing time and money into it will pay dividends in the future.
NOTE: not everyone will like your brand. That’s ok, you only want your niche sector, your target market to love it!
Step Three: Never compromising on your principles
By your principles I mean your values. Based on the Purpose of your business (what your business gives your clients or allows them to do), your core values are the guiding principles for your business.
Let me explain: as a professional services firm which is following the all the other professional services firms in your sector, you are likely to have a set of principles or values that follow a trend. So, if you run a law firm, you probably have integrity or knowledge or expertise as one of your values or guiding principles.
This does nothing at all to differentiate your firm from every other law firm in the world.
However, if your values or guiding principles are creativity, diversity or even passion, then you’re already on an entirely different level to your competitors.
A professional services business needs to use its values to make decisions. Having integrity or knowledge is a given. If you’re a law firm and you don’t have that, you shouldn’t be operating! Having creativity as a value or guiding principle means you’ll seek novel solutions for your clients, you’ll recruit creative thinkers and you’ll approach a client’s problem from a creative angle.
Whilst you deliver legal services, it’s HOW you deliver legal services that really counts.
Step Four: Delivering a relevant and consistent experience
This is crucial to building an extraordinary brand. You cannot flip flop around or be wishy washy in your approach.
You must deliver on your brand promise by following your principles in every interaction you have with your clients, your team, your suppliers and your leadership team must walk, talk, eat and breathe the values and principles you lay down.
All your literature, the spoken word, tone of voice and imagery must match your brand and allow clients to see, feel, hear and experience your values and principles in every interaction they have with you.
You cannot promise to be a creative IT consultancy and then squash every new idea a member of your team comes up with.
Neither can you say you hold diversity as a core principle or value and then have a team that consists of people who all look and sound the same.
You must walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to delivering an extraordinary brand.
Step Five: Building a loyal band of champions
Professional services firms and businesses have traditionally found it reasonably easy to keep clients loyal.
However, times have changed and businesses as well as private individuals no longer stay with the same firm because that’s who they’ve always used, they tend to shop around more and seek the best service for their budget.
If you’re an accountancy firm that has switched to a pile them high, sell them cheap model and are targeting micro businesses, then your systems have to be the best so you can deliver accurate and timely accounts for the lowest cost possible. When you’re competing on price at this end of the market you’ll need to keep your clients loyal by delivering a consistently fast and efficient service every time because when you make a mistake they’ll have no hesitation in moving.
When you’re working with high ticket items then your opportunity to build loyalty is slightly easier. You simply have more time. Don’t get complacent though. Even clients you’ve worked with for decades can suddenly decide to go elsewhere if you take them for granted.
Nurture your clients, love them, adore them and above all, make sure you’re in contact with them even when they’re not buying.
Step Six: Build an extraordinary brand by delivering extraordinary profits
I am going to suggest that if you have the first five steps in place, then this step takes care of itself.
By doing all the other things and getting them right, you will find that the right kind of work comes your way more often and you have fewer clients who are a pain and end up costing you money.
This is about alignment and everything you do in your professional services business must be aligned with your Purpose, Vision and Values which includes the brand. Your brand promised MUST deliver to your external clients as well as to your internal clients i.e. your team.
When all of this aligns, you can’t help but make profit.