What does it take to successfully rebrand a firm in professional services?

Imagine that you are in a foreign city and need to drive across town.  You have a road map and a GPS device.  You plug your current and desired destinations into the GPS while also looking at the map.  The map shows all the different routes that you could take to get to your destination, but the GPS has a highlighted route of the best way to get to where you need to go through the least amount of traffic. 

This analogy is much like the difference between doing branding research for the sake of doing research, and conducting actionable research that can guide your brand to a better position in the mind of your target market.  Measuring something as abstract as your brand is difficult to begin with, and it’s easy to get bogged down with meaningless statistics that mean very little in the end. 

So what is actionable branding research?  To answer that question, first we need to look at what your brand really is.  Contrary to the common misconception, a firm’s brand goes well beyond the aesthetics of their logo design.  A professional service firm’s brand can be simply boiled down to the product of a firm’s reputation and visibility in the marketplace (brand strength = reputation x visibility).

Actionable branding research will give you descriptive characteristics of the perception of particular market segments that you already do business with, would like to do business with, and those who influence decision makers of prospective clients.  Measuring these gaps in perception will give you a clear idea of how your current audience sees your brand, how your ideal audience sees your brand, and what you can do to bridge that gap.

Okay, that sounds pretty straightforward, but I can already hear you asking, “so what are the drivers of my firm’s visibility and reputation?”   To that point, you are going to need to measure the answers to several key questions:

  • How relevant are your services to your target audience?
  • What is the value that your clients receive from working with you?
  • How well do you deliver on your promises?
  • How loyal are your clients?
  • How willing are your clients to recommend your firm?

The answers to these questions are like the coordinates that you plug into the GPS device we talked about earlier.  They will show you how to navigate your efforts to get to your desired destination of a successful rebrand.  However, how you analyze this data is a fork in the road. 

Marketing decision makers are typically not statisticians.  That being said, relaying the data in the simplest possible way that is relevant to the firm’s goals should be the direction of the analysis.  Using descriptive statistics of targeted market segments paints a picture that is clear to marketing decision makers and paves the way for statistically supported decisions. 

For example, X% of current clients are strong endorsers of the perceived value of a firms brand.  Y% of prospective clients gave a similar response.  This has actionable connotations that illustrate a gap in perception between the two market segments.  Follow this up with some simple qualitative digging, and you are ready to connect the dots.

Now that you have charted your course and identified the road to take, the next step will be identifying the vehicle to take you there. 

For more information on performing research in professional services, download our free Professional Services Guide to Research.

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