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The 5 Unintended Consequences of Rebranding Your Professional Services Firm

Most professional services firms seem to dive into a rebranding process out of fear and disgust. They’re afraid to send people to their website because it is so out of date, and they are throughly disgusted with their out-of-date, inaccurate and amateurish marketing materials. They look to re-branding to put a pretty face on who they are.

They are in for some big surprises.

I say this with such confidence because these observations were reinforced last Friday at an event we moderated for the Association for Corporate Growth. The event centered around the experience of three firms that all went through a re-branding. Talatek completed a rebranding a couple of months ago, while Invizion and ROI completed theirs about one year ago.

All three spoke about the unexpected and unintended consequences of the effort.

Unintended Consequences Revealed

There were five consequences of rebranding that they did not anticipate. Interestingly, they each characterized the impacts as very beneficial to the firm.

  1. It forced them to look much more closely at who they were as a firm and where they wanted to take it in the future. It clearly went well beyond prior strategic planning exercises.
  2. This surfaced many core questions that had been ignored in the day-to-day hustle and bustle of servicing clients. Some of these questions were painful to address yet essential to resolve.
  3. They all spoke about the surprising emotional changes they noted at their firms during and after the rebranding. Confidence, excitement and focus were mentioned repeatedly. Employees seemed more energized, aligned and excited about the firm. While not something they had anticipated, it was a welcome bonus.
  4. While they all expected to see an improvement in the new business arena (which, by the way, all have experienced), they did not anticipate the benefits they found with respect to recruiting new employees and teaming partners. They also related that clarity around their brand helped them get interest from the right type of partners and prospects. In short the quality of response was also improved.
  5. The final unexpected impact was on current clients. Kim Weir from ROI described it as a little like the reaction from a friend when they notice that you have lost some weight and gotten a new hair style. They seem to be pleased that you were “taking care of yourself” and keeping up with the times.

I suppose one should not be surprised by these benefits. After all, a well executed rebranding ought to replace confusion with clarity. It ought to help align the firm around a common vision and communicate that vision to prospects, partners and clients. It ought to capture what is unique and exciting about a firm and tell that story to the world. That’s what well crafted brands do.

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Author: Lee Frederiksen, Ph.D. Who wears the boots in our office? That would be Lee, our managing partner, who suits up in a pair of cowboy boots every day and drives strategy and research for our clients. With a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, Lee is a former researcher and tenured professor at Virginia Tech, where he became a national authority on organizational behavior management and marketing. He left academia to start up and run three high-growth companies, including an $80 million runaway success story.

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