Branding can be an elusive concept. For many, a company’s brand is usually associated with a visual element, like a logo. Retail giants like Target, Amazon and Best Buy have all created brands that go beyond the logo by associating their name with the assurance they give to their customers. In professional services, a brand must promise an experience, tell a story and evoke an emotional response. Throughout the client experience, which starts long before you meet face-to-face, your brand must be clear, visible and consistent. Creating brand standards will educate your team on effective visual elements, explain how your staff should speak about the firm, and show how to live the brand. The following steps will help you develop brand standards that can be incorporated throughout your marketing and business development efforts.
- Create a Brand Identity
The visual elements of your firm (your logo, website, imagery, typography, color schemes, taglines, signage and social media accounts) form your brand’s identity. It’s vital that your firm portrays a consistent message and cohesive brand that the public and your clients will recognize and remember. Building specific examples of your firm’s visual elements into a brand standards document will establish and unify your brand.
- Outline Communication Standards
Communication standards help establish common terminology and responses when speaking about the firm. New staff will benefit from the guide, as well as seasoned professionals in understanding and speaking eloquently about all service lines and industry areas of the firm. Whether through one-on-one conversations or public speaking opportunities, your communication standards will house guidelines for referencing the name of the firm, tagline, service lines, and industry areas.
Key differentiators are also an area to include in your communication standards. Value propositions that are specific to the firm and its specialty areas should be outlined to help team members understand the firm’s positioning in the marketplace. Differentiators incorporate promises that you’re making to clients and prospects regarding their experience. Many firms include their commitment to responsiveness and client experience guarantees into their communication standards.
- Living the Brand
At the end of the day, people buy from people. Your actions and the way you portray your brand can make or break your new client results. Every person at your firm is an example of your brand; equip them with a guide that illustrates what it means to be a part of your firm. Outline the behaviors you expect, including how they interact with people both internally and externally, how they serve their clients and communities, their ethical integrity, and their continued growth.
Your identity isn’t just your logo, tagline or advertising campaign. Brands don’t happen without intention and they don’t happen overnight. Branding is a cohesive effort by everyone in the firm. We help CPA firms develop, analyze and implement their brand every day. Need help with your brand? Contact one of our specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org