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When Is it Time for a Brand Refresh?

Brand Management for Growing Professional Service Firms

Did your professional services firm recently expand its service offering? Were you part of a recent merger? Has your brand become stale? How do you know when it’s time to give your brand some special attention?

When most people think of a company’s brand, the logo is usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, redeveloping a brand goes beyond simply redesigning an icon or word mark.

In this blog, I’ll review the different scenarios that can call for a brand refresh or redesign. I’ll also identify several components of effective brand management to consider along the way.

When is it time to revisit the branding process?

1. When you’ve gone through a merger or acquisition: M&A activity continues to be brisk, and if your firm hasn’t been part of a merger or acquisition yet, some of your competitors likely have. Some firms are turning to M&A as an alternative recruiting tool in a competitive labor market, and large-scale complex projects are driving the demand for similarly large and diverse organizations to service their needs. Expanding service portfolios have led to inconsistent messaging and diluted positioning. On the other hand, well-planned, strategic mergers have created powerhouse players in an already crowded playing field. In most cases, the need for a rebrand is obvious (for instance, the merger of two firms with different brands), but sometimes the need to re-position is not as clear cut – such as the emergence of a new competitive advantage, a significant new service line, or the addition or loss of a highly visible expert.

2. When you’ve changed your firm’s service offerings or target market: It’s common for professional services firms to evolve their service offerings as they embrace new audiences or expand their geographic reach. But a change in a firm’s services, markets or even where they operate can dilute a firm’s differentiators. In rare instances, a change in services can be for the better, giving a firm a stronger hand as it positions itself against poorly differentiated competitors.

3.It’s long overdue: For many professional services firms, brand management is an afterthought. Before you know it, you can’t remember the last time you thought about your brand positioning and whether you are still headed on the right track. It’s a good idea to re-evaluate your positioning every 4-7 years, using some fresh research to take the pulse of your marketplace. These insights will inform the adjustments you need to make.

Download The Hinge Rebranding Guide

Next, let’s look at a few of the most critical elements of a successful brand. From brand identity to brand promise to a firm’s personality, redeveloping a brand is an opportunity to not only differentiate your firm but to turn your brand into something that people can see and experience. You can think of your firm’s brand as the product of its reputation and visibility in the marketplace: so successfully rebuilding a brand requires that you consider the key elementsthat factor into this equation.

For instance, your brand identity speaks to the visual elements that communicate your brand, such as your tagline and colors. But it’s your name and logo that are perhaps the most memorable.

What’s in a Name?

In the world of professional services, a firm’s name can help it stand out from its competition. A good name is easy to remember and won’t be confused with any of your competitors. In most cases, a name change is likely not required, but if you are a new firm, have changed your positioning, are undergoing a merger, or are recovering from an unfortunate PR situation, a name change might very well be in order. But before you go the great lengths to change your name, consider a new logo or tagline to support your new positioning and personality.

 

Let Go of Your Logo

Is your logo up to par? Does it reflect your brand personality? Does it look out-of-date? Is it memorable? Logo redesigns signify change, and change can be a scary thing. But your logo is one of the first aspects of your brand that prospects are likely to see and serves as a familiar touchpoint throughout their experience with your firm. Your logo will appear on every piece of marketing collateral you produce, from your website to signage to your proposals. The visual expression of a brand suggests to buyers that a firm is credible, established and different from otherwise similar firms. When conditions warrant a change in your brand, a logo redesign is well worth the effort.

 

Brand Positioning

What truly makes a brand successful and elevates it above the competition? Strong positioning. Your brand has to stand for something, and in turn, its positioning must accomplish three things:

  1. Be different
  2. Be focused
  3. Be relevant

A brand that stays relevant, focused and differentiated will attract buyers’ attention and have a distinct advantage in the marketplace. The problem most professional services firms experience is that they offer a myriad of customized services that are hard to define. A positioning statement can help define your marketing messages and the services you offer — translating and communicating complex information into something more tangible. But by uncovering your firm’s fundamental purpose, and tying each service back to that foundational idea, you create a lasting emotional connection with customers that fuels growth, reputation and visibility.

Is it time to reimagine your brand? That may or may not be an easy question to answer. At the very least, I hope this article has inspired you to look at your firm’s brand with clearer eyes. Certainly, a brand refresh requires an investment of money and time. But in the right circumstances, it can provide much needed momentum and compel people to think about your firm in a new way.

Additional Resources:

 

How Hinge Can Help:

Develop rebranding strategies that better connect with existing clients and prospects. Hinge’s Branding Program can help your firm stand out from the competition and build a brand that drives sustained growth.

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Katy Pultz Katy is an account director at Hinge, where she enjoys working closely with senior leadership to develop marketing programs that engage stakeholders at every level. When she isn’t leading client engagements, she writes about professional services marketing for C-suite executives.

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