1. Start With the Business Reason
Any re-branding strategy should start with a thorough understanding of the business reason behind the rebranding. Is it driven by a need to accelerate growth? Does your firm need to compete with larger, more established competitors?
Some of these business cases are very easy to make, such as a merger of two firms. Others are more subtle, such as outgrowing your image. If you are not clear about the business reason driving the effort, you run the risk of wasting a tremendous amount of resources. Some of the other top reasons to rebrand your professional services firm includes:
- You need to compete at a higher level or in a new market.
- Your brand no longer reflects who you are.
- Your firm is spun off from an existing brand.
- You have a legal reason compelling you to change.
- You need to simplify and focus your message.
- You have a new marketing team.
- You are launching a new service line.
2. Research Your Firm and Your Target Clients
When you are clear on the business case for a re-branding, the next step is to conduct independent research on your firm and your clients. If you are attempting to move into a new market, that research should include your new target clients as well. The goal is to have an objective understanding of your current brand perception and competencies.
3. Use Positioning and Messaging to Capture Your Brand Strategy
As you develop your firm’s market positioning and messaging architecture, you will uncover the essence of your brand strategy. Your market positioning is a brief description of where you fit into the market space. Are you an innovative leader or a low cost provider?
This positioning will drive many of your subsequent decisions. But you can’t just make something up. It needs to balance who you are as a firm and who you want to become. You must be able to support your positioning or your brand will be hollow.
Your messaging architecture articulates your messages to each of your main audiences. These messages must be consistent with your overall brand and supportable. This is not marketing copy. It is the skeleton upon which marketing copy is built.
4. Build Your Brand Identity
This is the part of the re-branding strategy where you develop the visual elements that will communicate your brand. Think firm name, logo, tagline, colors, business card design, stationary, and the like. These elements are often described in a brand style guidelines document, which provides a set of parameters to ensure your brand is implemented consistently across all of your marketing materials.
Many folks confuse these elements with your brand. Your brand is your reputation and your visibility, not your firm’s name or its logo. Your brand identity is a sort of visual shorthand for your brand.
5. Build Your Website and Online Presence
Your website is your single most important communication and business development tool. It is the place where you can tell a compelling story to each of your audiences. It is the first place a prospective client or employee will turn to learn more about your firm.
It is no exaggeration to say that a website and your online presence are the heart of a modern professional services firm. All rebranding strategies eventually involve your website. In a very real way, a website is built on the framework of your messaging architecture. Together with your remaining online presence (think social media, for example), it is the full expression of your positioning.
6. Marketing Collateral
At this point in your re branding strategy, you will develop all of the marketing materials that you need to communicate your brand and services messages. Think pitch decks, proposal templates, brochures, one-sheet fliers and trade show booths.
These are the tools that you will use to communicate your message. They should be firmly anchored in your brand strategy.
7. Brand Building Plan
The final element of your re branding strategy is to develop a plan to promote and strengthen your new brand. How will you launch it internally? In professional services, it is essential that your employees embrace the new brand. After all, they are your product.
It’s also important that you build the brand in a way that communicates your firm’s reputation and expertise, as well as its name. It must communicate your market positioning. Brand building is different for professional services.
Some re-branding strategies fail because they try to shortcut the process. Others fail because they picked the wrong partners to work with. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Start with a sound re-branding strategy. Find an experienced partner. Give re-branding the attention it deserves and the rewards will follow. A well-positioned firm that clearly communicates its brand is a formidable competitor indeed.
By Worule Cool