Intentionally Building a Purpose-driven Brand
Branding a professional service firm on purpose means keeping strategy and creativity in equilibrium. Brands are built to be driven. They must be goal-oriented to achieve a firm’s marketing objectives.
Achieving a purpose-driven brand means wading through all the communications clutter and focusing your professional service firm on one clear, concise, and consistent promise.
One Brand, One Promise
More than just a positioning statement, you must find a way for your firm to stand out from among the bombardment of innumerable marketing messages. To do this your brand must be very simple to understand. It needs to be devoid of complexity and described in plain language. Discovering the essence of your brand is boiling it down to one brand, one promise.
Strategy First, Followed by Creative Execution
The challenge for a brand manager is to keep communications focused. A firm’s communication pieces should maintain creative excellence and live up to the market leadership strategy that set them in motion.
It is essential that branding and market leadership strategies work together, letting form follow function. Your creative design solutions need to be as strategically driven as your market leadership strategies. Branding a professional service firm is strategy first, followed by creative execution.
A Professional Service Firm’s Brand Identity
A professional service firm’s visual identity should be more than a trendy look. In fact, I recommend avoiding trendy altogether, because a brand has to last for a long time to be effective.
A brand’s visual identity, especially for a professional service firm, must be dependable and trustworthy. It takes between three and five years to establish a brand identity.
Your visual identity needs to be timeless. It has to be meaningful and appropriate for the entire firm and all of it’s supporting audiences. Every time your brand appears — from stationery and collateral to websites and social media channels — it is building brand equity for your professional service firm.
Great Brands are Simple, Uniform, and Repetitive
Once your firm has settled on a brand identity and related imagery, leave it alone. Don’t touch it. Repeat it exactly, over and over. This is what makes your brand dependable, reliable, trustworthy, and stable. The public sees it, gets it, knows it, counts on it — if you change your brand, it never has a chance to settle in.
From the selection of images, colors, and typography to the development of social media channels and web platforms, looking good is never good enough. Managing a brand is being in charge of a comprehensive branding identification system, steering each communication element to clearly express the practice development strategy of your firm.
Keys to Branding an Intangible Service Experience
Finding ways to market and manage an intangible experience is the key to establishing a market position and a strong brand for a professional service firm. A professional services brand must find ways to:
- Define its service business in terms of the benefits people receive
- Highlight the abstract aspects of the whole firm experience
- Put high-touch back into the marketing equation
The key to professional services marketing is to be perceived as different from your competitors by a targeted segment of profitable customers. The result of implementing these marketing efforts with your brand is accelerated growth.
- Market Leadership Strategies for Service Companies: Creating Growth, Profits, and Customer Loyalties by Craig Terrill and Arthur Middlebrooks is the most under-read marketing classic of all time. This book should be on the desktop of service marketer. Simply brilliant. These guys were born with extraordinary insight.
- Kellogg on Branding: The Marketing Faculty of The Kellogg School of Management is written by some very brilliant educators. This is a go-to book for every brand manager.