Brand development is most likely your firm’s most valuable asset. If this is the case, then it is strongly encouraged that you harness resources in developing a stronger brand. To assist you, we developed a brand-building guide. If you’re still on the fence about its relevance, then consider the definition of a professional services brand.
Your Brand Defined
We would best categorise a professional services brand as the marketplace visibility your firm has, and its reputation. Reputation x Visibility is a method to measure the strength of your brand.
There is another important dimension of your brand as well: how relevant it is to your target client audience. More about that later.
Brand Development Defined
Brand development is the process of creating and strengthening your professional services brand. As we help firms develop their brands, we divide the process into three phases.
- First, you need to align your brand strategy with your business objectives.
- Second, you will need to develop all tools required that allow you to communicate your brand to your audience. This includes your website, a logo and a tagline to accompany the logo.
- Lastly, you will need to strengthen your revised or newly created brand.
The manner in which you go about accomplishing these tasks is what we called brand development strategy. To help facilitate, we’ve segmented the brand development strategy into the following 10 steps.
1. Consider your overall business strategy
A strong, well-differentiated brand will make growing your firm much easier. But what type of firm do you want? Are you planning to grow organically? Your overall business strategy is the context for your brand development strategy, so that’s the place to start. If you are clear about where you want to take your firm, your brand will help you get there.
2. Identify your target clients
If you answer “everyone” when asked who your target clients are, then you have committed a blunder. Research indicates that harnessing high growth and high profit is focused on defining target clients. The narrower the target spectrum, the more accelerated your growth. The wider the target spectrum, the more your efforts are likely to be diluted. In order to ensure you have selected the right target client group, the following steps will help.
3. Research Your Target Client Group
As mentioned earlier, research indicates that systematic research conducted by firms who identifying their target group results in more growth and yields more profit. Faster growth is even more likely if this research is conducted with more frequency.
By conducting research, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of your target clients priorities, pinpoint their requirements and also communicate your message in order to resonate with them. In addition to that, research will also enable you to see how your strengths and how your current brand is perceived by your client. In effect, it drastically lowers the marketing risk that can be associated with your brand development.
4. Develop your brand positioning
You are now ready to determine your firm’s brand positioning within the professional services marketplace (also called market positioning). How is your firm different from others and why should potential clients within your target audience choose to work with you?
A positioning statement is typically three to five sentences in length and captures the essence of your brand positioning. It must be grounded in reality, as you will have to deliver on what you promise. It must also be a bit aspirational so you have something to strive for.
5. Develop Your Messaging Strategy
Your following step is to render your brand positioning into messages for various target audiences, and this known as creating a messaging strategy. The audience you are targeting is likely to include potential customers, potential employees and other partnering opportunities, to name a few.
While your core brand positioning must be the same for all audiences, each audience will be interested in different aspects of it. The messages to each audience will emphasize the most relevant points. Each audience will also have specific concerns that must be addressed, and each will need different types of evidence to support your messages. Your messaging strategy should address all of these needs. This is an important step in making your brand relevant to your target audiences.
6. Develop Your Name, Logo & Tagline
Name changes are not necessarily required for many firms. But as a new firm, especially one that underwent a merger, or one that finds its name out-dated, a change in name is highly recommended. Under the circumstance that you retain your name, it may still be worth considering a new logo and tagline to better support your brand positioning.
Your name, logo and tagline should not be considered your brand, ultimately, they are ways to communicate or help to symbolize your brand.
Additionally, avoid relying solely on internal review in order to get the correct consensus on your design. The logo and tagline are not for you and your partners; they are for the marketplace and should be judged accordingly in order to confirm that the logo and tagline effectively communicate what they need to.
7. Develop your content marketing strategy
Online classes may reach out to a hidden audience and will make them aware of your objective and how they can benefit from it. This helps in the expansion of your audience. Engage with the public to discuss the topics they want to discuss in the Webinar.
8. Develop your website
We could have called this step “develop your marketing strategy.” But we didn’t. Instead we call for a content marketing strategy.
Why? Content marketing is particularly well suited to professional services firms in the Internet age. It does all things traditional marketing does but it does them more efficiently. It uses valuable educational content to attract, nurture and qualify prospects.
A combination of reputation and visibility drives your brand strength. It will yield poor results if you increase visibility without accordingly strengthening your reputation. This explains the poor results accrued when marketers apply traditional “awareness-building” ads and sponsorships. Alternately, a perfect way to make your brand relevant to your target audience is to apply content marketing, which augments visibility and reputation simultaneously.
9. Building Your Marketing Toolkit
The following step is to craft the remaining marketing toolkit. This could include single “sales sheets” that detail what core services you offer or what markets you serve. In combination with this, there may also be a “pitch deck” that illustrates the firm’s key offerings and provides a digital brochure overviewing the firm.
Increasingly this marketing toolkit also includes videos. Popular video topics include firm overviews, case studies or “meet the partner” videos. Key services offerings are also very useful. If prepared appropriately, these tools serve not only a business development function but also are important for brand development.
10. Implement, Track and Adjust
The ultimate step in the brand development strategy creation is perhaps the most critical. A strong brand development strategy yields no results if it’s never implemented. A strong brand development strategy commences with the best of intentions, and sometimes reality strikes and client work takes precedence and eventually, the development tasks unfortunately fade into oblivion.
That is why it is pivotal to track. It is highly encouraged that you track both, the implementation and the results. Consider reviewing that the strategy got implemented as planned, what occurred with objective measures like search traffic and web visitors, how many new leads were generated, and so on. Applying tracking to the whole process will generate the right conclusions and allow you to apply the right adjustments.
That’s why tracking is so important. We strongly recommend tracking both the implementation of the plan as well as results. Did the strategy get implemented as planned? What happened with the objective measures, such as search traffic and web visitors? How many new leads, employee applications and partnering opportunities were generated? Only by tracking the entire process can you make sure you are drawing the right conclusions and making the right adjustments.
There you have it — a 10 step brand development process to drive the growth and profitability of your firm.
Credit to Lee Frederiksen via Hinge and you can follow him @Twitter