Creating a strong brand is becoming increasingly crucial for professional services businesses. With competition rife and many businesses struggling to find clients, those who want to be successful over the long term need to set themselves apart from the competition and differentiate themselves with a clear branding strategy.
A recent report from Beaton Research and Consulting suggests that with more and more professional services businesses starting to really focus on branding, the ones that don’t may soon start to fall behind.
Unfortunately many professional services businesses find branding a challenge and they often don’t know how to differentiate themselves and create a strong, cohesive brand for their organisation. Branding a professional services business is difficult when there are so many other organisations out there all trying to differentiate themselves on the same factors.
What really makes you different?
While you may feel that your brand and culture are different from everyone else’s, how would you actually define what it is that makes you stand out? This should be an easy question but a surprising number of professional services and B2B CEOs struggle to come up with an original answer, according to the Beaton study.
Is your brand promise relevant?
Your points of differentiation, when communicated to your customers, make up your brand promise. To be appealing to your target clients, this brand promise needs to be seen by them to be relevant to their needs.
The Beaton study highlighted the problem that many organisations experience, and that I have also seen with some of the people I have worked with, when the organisation’s brand promise lives up to an ideal that isn’t really that important to their target market while failing to meet the basic essentials.
There’s no point promising the latest technology if your customer service is inadequate or your service doesn’t deliver to your clients’ requirements.
A relevant brand promise will be engaging to your clients and employees and will help you attract new business and ensure the loyalty of your ongoing clients. To ensure your brand promise is relevant, determine what it is your clients really want and need and make sure you deliver on those crucial factors in a way that is in line with your means of differentiating yourself.
For example, if you want to differentiate yourself through technology, find a way to meet your clients’ basic needs by using technology. By meeting their needs you will ensure they have a positive experience of you and by using technology in an innovative way, you can differentiate yourself and uphold your brand promise.
When it comes to measuring customer satisfaction, many major retailers and banks have moved towards measuring how much effort it takes a customer to access their products or use their services over how happy the customers are. The more effort required, the more likely a customer will switch to a competitor. This is something to keep in mind when creating your own brand promise.
How is your brand promise delivered?
Once you have your brand promise in place, to be successful at branding yourself you will need to be consistent in your delivery on that promise. Successful branded businesses take their brand promise and use it as the foundation for everything they do both internally and externally.
Branding is about far more than just creating a logo, it encompasses your organisation’s culture, ways of communicating both internally and externally and the foundations of your employees’ behaviour. Your clients will need to experience your branding at every stage of their relationship with you if you want them to have a consistent experience.
Maybe you already have a strong branding strategy in place or perhaps you haven’t given it much thought. Either way it looks like branding is in the future for professional services businesses so those who want to get the best clients and the most work should get started sooner rather than later.
About the author:
Jo Macdermott is the Chief Marketing Consultant at Next Marketing in Melbourne. She has 15 years of marketing experience, is a Certified Practising Marketer and is a sought after marketing media commentator. Jo specialises in working with small and medium businesses. Follow her on Twitter here.