As a marketing director, it's your job to help grow your firm. There are a number of ways you can do this, but one of the most effective yet often overlooked is through brand building.
A professional services firm is built on reputation and trust. So is your brand. Your brand is your most valuable asset—a combination of your reputation and your visibility. The stronger your brand, the greater your firm's potential for growth and profitability.
To build a strong brand, here are five important facts every marketing director should know:
1. Brand Collateral Exists on Any Channel You Use
Whether you're posting on LinkedIn, writing a blog, or developing a webinar, your contribution to each of these channels is a reflection on your brand. So make sure to think strategically about the value you intend to add with each channel you choose to engage on.
To ensure consistency, formulate a style guide or rule book on how to represent your brand on each channel. When developing your guide, cultivate a tone (visual and written) that represents the personality of your firm and resonates with your target audience. Don't be afraid to differentiate yourself from your competitors—it will make your brand even stronger.
Once you know how you want to represent your brand, it's important to make sure everyone on your team, including interns posting on social media, is aware of the strategic goals of your brand and can reflect your brand voice in the marketplace.
2. Visible Experts℠ Add Value to Your Brand
There's a reason companies use celebrity endorsements. While you may not have Hollywood stars to promote your brand, it's likely you do have a few individuals who are well known in your industry for their expertise.
Helping these experts increase their visibility through media opportunities and speaking engagements will benefit your firm's reputation and boost your brand's value.
In fact, Hinge research shows that Visible Experts not only increase the revenues of the brand associated with them, but can create a halo effect for buyers—a brand-building benefit that makes buyers more likely to see the brand, not just the Visible Expert, as an authority.
If you're struggling to identify a Visible Expert for your firm, start with your employees. There's certain to be a few rising stars among the ranks. They may not be a Visible Expert yet, but you can cultivate their potential to become one.
Investing in your employees is a form of brand building that, over time, can create real expertise and be a powerful component of building your brand.
3. Content Marketing is Brand Building
Creating valuable educational content and sharing it freely is another great way to build your brand. Building up a library of content not only displays your expertise, but allows you to increase trust in your brand.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, 70% of consumers say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company.
Content is the intellectual property of your firm and is a tangible asset of your brand. It's also one of the most-cost effective ways to acquire and retain customers.
Research shows that a new lead brought in through content marketing costs 60% less than a lead brought in through traditional channels.
What's more, the materials you create have value long after the original campaign is over. 'Evergreen' content makes excellent reference pieces when you are selling your services to clients.
So take the time to create quality content that will build your brand and help you stand out as a trusted expert in your field.
4. Branding is an Opportunity for Differentiation
Brand building is an opportunity for your firm to stake out a unique corner of your market. But to do so, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
When laying out strategies for your brand building efforts, consider how you can differentiate your brand on different platforms. What problems do you solve that others don't? How can you behave different or look different from your competitors? What story can you tell that defines you and is unique to your firm? And how will you tell this story on LinkedIn versus Twitter or your blog?
To answer these types of questions, take a snapshot of your competitors' websites, social channels, and other marketing assets. Identify the similarities and differences as well as your intended position relative to those of your competitors. Then, decide what areas you can best differentiate your brand and how you can best do so.
Most importantly, the differentiators you identify should all be true, relevant, and provable.
5. Building Your Brand Takes Time
A brand, like most things of value, doesn't develop over night.
Your brand is the cumulative investments you make in the various components of your brand. Your brand is the story you tell about who you are and the assets associated with your firm, both online and offline.
Investing in brand building takes time, but the results will be lasting. Your reputation as an expert in a specific domain, the content you develop, or a sleek new website will fuel your brand far past the original investments you make.
To learn more about building your brand, download the Brand Building Guide for Professional Service Firms.
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