We find ourselves bombarded with brand messaging as consumers, but sometimes principals/equity partners find it tricky to understand the value of their company’s brand. If you are among them, you are certainly not alone. Many professional services executives see their brand as little more than a logo, tagline and a few website pages. They don’t focus on developing their brand beyond those elements because they do not recognize how branding can directly affect their company’s success.
In truth, your corporate branding is far more than a logo, or even the messaging on your company website. Your brand includes everything your clients—current and future—know about your company. You want that audience to react in a positive way whenever they encounter your brand. The goal is to elicit a reaction that leads prospects to select your services over competitors.
By strategically developing your brand value, you can foster strong relationships with clients and prospects and build a stronger path to new business. To develop that brand value, you need to think beyond the logo and tagline.
Breaking Down Your Brand
Your brand’s value, or strength, is a measure of your firm’s reputation and visibility.
Visibility describes how your firm appears to the outside world, both online and offline. Think of it this way, to elicit a reaction, your brand—and company—has to be present before your target market. This visibility can include displaying your logo prominently on the jobsite, at select conference/events, on your website, through social media and even in proposal materials. Recognizing where your audience is will help determine the level of effort for these efforts.
Reputation is the way the marketplace thinks of your firm and the regard it holds for the services you provide. This regard will be based on the experiences the marketplace has had with your firm and what others in the industry say about your firm. A prospective client may not directly interact with your company, but they may work closely with, for example, an MEP subcontractor who mentions your high regard for job site safety, or an architect who describes how your team prevented cost overruns on a past project. In other words, the relationships and experiences you have with everyone in your industry can influence your reputation.
Of course, your visibility and reputation are rarely dictated by your own communications—not in today’s world of social media. Your reputation is reflected in both online and offline communication about the firm. Messages that are driven from inside and outside the firm.
These messages can take many forms: the testimonials you collect from satisfied clients (positive), online reviews written by unhappy former employees (negative), or a discussion by clients about your company’s ability to meet deadlines (positive). While you can’t control all messages, you can control how you react and turn even negative comments into a chance to demonstrate what your firm truly is about.
Ensuring Brand Consistency in Your Organization
Your company brand must be more than a mission statement mentioned during annual firm meetings. It must be reflected in everyday interactions. One of the biggest challenges in developing brand value is ensuring that everyone in the company—from the executive suite to the job site—understands your brand and conveys it in all business dealings.
While getting everyone on the same page can be challenging, it is crucial because an inconsistent reflection of your brand can damage your firm’s reputation significantly. For example, consider my recent conversation with the CEO of a 35-year-old architecture firm. He was struggling to extract himself from day-to-day client management discussions. While he was excited to lead all new client pitches, they left him no time to run the firm. He was stymied because the junior staff, while technically excellent, did not communicate the firm’s differentiators as clearly as he could.
Boosting Your Brand’s Visibility
If you’re looking to build your brand, don’t focus on the reputation you have today. Take a moment to explore what you want your brand to mean. What feelings do you want it to convey to the marketplace? Start with the perception current clients have of the firm and where they perceive your firm to bring most value. Understanding this will help you to enhance your brand value, both internally and externally.
- Internally, begin by educating all employees on your firm’s core differentiators. Make sure managers, technical professionals and laborers alike can explain the company’s value proposition and what sets it apart. The message shouldn’t focus on how great your employees are, or even how terrific your work is. It should be about the relevancy of your firm to prospective clients’ most important issues and goals.
- Externally, get to work raising your firm’s visibility by demonstrating thought leadership. This can take a variety of forms. You might consider blogging on your company website or contributing articles to leading industry publications. You might also explore speaking opportunities at relevant events that put you in front of prospective clients. Whatever direction you choose, building visibility isn’t done with a single blog or speech—so consistency and relevance are key. It is also important to ensure your message is clearly conveyed. After all, you want to leave readers, listeners and all prospects extending the reach of your message.
Once you’ve objectively understood the internal and external perceptions of your firm and it’s brand value, it’s time to take that brand to the next level and win more business.
- Develop a stronger and more valuable brand with Hinge’s Brand Building Guide for Professional Services Firms.
- Create a well-differentiated brand with our free Differentiation Guide for Professional Services Firms.
- Our Rebranding Kit gives you the tools and knowledge you need to lead your firm through a rebranding.
How Hinge Can Help
The best brand building strategies help your firm connect with its buyers, builds your reputation, and increases you marketplace visibility. Hinge’s Branding Program can help your firm stand out from the competition and build a brand that drives sustained growth.