The Professional Services sector has a new breed of brands, are you keeping up?

The changes over the last decade, (particularly in the legal sector) including the onset of the internet, search engines and legislative changes such as “Tesco law” – have made the legal sector seem more competitive and harder to succeed in. THIS IS NOT TRUE!  There are myriad successful professional services brands out there, large and small, international full service to boutique specialist. The majority have one thing in common – they have built and maintain a strong online presence based on reputation, culture and ultimately a powerful brand. The firms struggling are yet to adopt new techniques in communication and branding, waiting for something to happen
– yet in reality more like the Fighting Temeraire being towed on her last long journey before being confined to history.

Change is not coming…
Change has already happened and it continues to evolve – which is why there is always space for fresh thinking for established firms and upstarts alike.
So is it time for you to rebrand? The important thing to remember when embarking upon the project to ‘develop your brand’ is that unless you’re a brand new start-up, you already have a brand.

That brand is not your logo, put really simply it is a combination of what you say you’re going to do and how you do it. If you say you’re going to always be punctual, stick to the quoted price and you’re experts in a certain field, then to get a reputation for reliability, value and expertise you need to prove it, time and again and if you can’t prove it, don’t promise it.

As law firms evolve and take on new talent, the brand promise becomes more granular and the delivery of it less consistent as partners and individuals build professional relationships. More often than not, relationships built on who THEY are and not what your firm is. This is great for one to one relationships but as your clients evolve and take up the services of different departments, how do you ensure you keep your promise, your service is consistent and you retain your client? First we have to look at the promise and whether we can realistically deliver on it.

What is the promise?
To understand what the brand promise is takes time, thought and a great agency to help you unearth it. Every firm we’ve worked with has a genuine differentiator amongst their proposition – their culture, niche, values and ideals or long-term plans. However, this information is often nestled in the clever minds of the partners and rarely given an airing.
Through a simple process of workshopping and brainstorming, we help to quickly identify what is truly at the heart of your business. That is:

  • What you do – Your services
  • Why you do it – Your purpose, mission, goal.
  • How do you do it – Are you different from your competitors, if so, how?
  • Who for? – Your ideal client (versus your actual clients as usually they’re not the same)

And our favourite:

  • SO WHAT?! AKA, the true value to your audience that will make them sit up and listen.

A good brand will deliver on all these areas and great communication will ensure that the ‘so what’ question is always answered.

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So, how do we help give your brand an elixir?

What you do?
Asking this question of your staff may yield an alarming variety of answers, if it does, that’s great as it justifies why you’re on this journey and will help you analyse what is at the core of your service offerings now and in the future. It may even throw up new opportunities.

Why you do it?
For the money surely? Actually, surely not. This is about your mission, what truly drives and excites you within your work. Work that stimulates your brain and has a purpose to it. Identify this and you’re on your way to finding the elixir of working life! Having a ‘why’ will help you win clients and attract talent as it paves the way for your culture and your mission statement.

A strong brand promise:

  • Makes you stand out
  • Is real and not contrived
  • Can be delivered
  • Can be sustained

How do you do it?
This might sound like an unnecessary question but we’re trying to find a Unique Selling Point here, something you do that’s different to everyone else. Why should they buy from you? Understanding how you operate will help inform that statement.

Who for?
This is a loaded question as you’re now well and truly on a journey of discovery and you may well have unearthed some new opportunities. So the ‘who’ for is as much aspirational as it is practical. Who do you work with now? Who do you WANT to be working with in the future. It may be more of the same, or it may be the start of a shift.

So what?
“Why should I give a sh#t?” says your prospective client? Well, here’s the thing. We just answered that, because we know why we’re doing it, we know how we’re doing it and we know who we’re doing it for. So you have a truely believable message and it simply becomes about the communication.

Developing your brand is the start of the project. Maintaining the message, evolving with market forces and technology is an ongoing challenge. But with the right tools, you can develop a comms plan and ‘tone of voice’ document and start to increase brand presence.

We’ve simplified this into a couple of A4 pages. In reality this is a full on project – but it can be painless and, more importantly, it can be insightful and life changing for your business.

So if you’ve not caught up yet, perhaps now is the time to develop your brand?

Read our guide to Professional Services Branding in the 21st Century