What comes to mind when you hear the word “brand?”  How about “brand reputation?”

What is a brand? What are the benefits of branding for your firm?

A firm’s brand is much more than a name and logo. It even goes beyond a firm’s functional attributes to establish trust and create an emotional connection with an audience. Here at Hinge, we define brand as the combination of reputation and visibility. It’s worth breaking that down a little further so that you can understand how to make the most of your branding (or rebranding) efforts.

Brand Supports

blogoffer-brandbuilding-guide.png Any discussion of brand needs to start with the fundamental understanding of mission and vision—the internally focused descriptions of why a firm exists and what it wants to become. Add to that the externally targeted concept of positioning—how you want your firm to be perceived, and why your named audiences should care.

At Hinge, for example, we position ourselves as the source of exceptional branding and marketing for professional services firms.  It’s a short leap in understanding that our expertise can help firms succeed in their marketing and business development efforts.

And let’s not forget that differentiation and messaging are the critical pieces that explain and prove how you stand apart from competitors.

If your firm is living your brand well, then all your employees and contractors have a solid understanding of your mission and vision, and demonstrate that understanding and your positioning in all tasks.  Taken together, these elements are representative of a “brand strategy,” an integrated set of activities for how you implement your brand.

As firms consider building out a brand strategy, many will include the tangible elements like identity, logo, tagline, colors and usage guidelines and many other components.  But firms need to go further.  Is the objective to increase market share, find new audiences, displace a competitor, shore up brand reputation or offer a new service?

To reap the full benefits of branding, all the tactics built into this strategy will need to reflect overall aims. To recap those elements, as discussed thus far:

Mission/Vision  –> Positioning –> Differentiation/Messaging –> Brand Strategy

SEE ALSO: A 10 Step Brand Development Strategy for Your Professional Services Firm

What Do Audiences Care About?

The key to implementing your brand strategy is knowing that your brand is the impression that comes to mind when someone sees or hears your firm’s name.

Many well-known management consulting firms have taken a similar approach to accomplish this. They invested in their brand so that audiences get the same impression: they can handle the most difficult challenges.  Aside from a few high-profile missteps at some firms, audiences relate to this.  And when most or all of the impressions support the same conclusion, the result is an emotional connection and a cohesive brand.

Of course, not all brands can boast the resources of these large firms.  Most find a niche, highlight a competitive advantage and seek to dominate.

Reputation and Visibility Occur Over Time

When your brand is at its best, your firm will have a solid brand reputation and a measurable level of visibility in the marketplace. Attaining the benefits of branding are an outgrowth of progressing through all the steps above. You need to know and believe in your mission, vision, and positioning before you can build a brand strategy that communicates your brand and builds a solid reputation.  Once you have something to speak about to external audiences, the awareness of your firm will increase.

Additional Resources

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.