May 18, 2017

5 tenets of successful branding for professional service firms

A brand is a complex and multifaceted thing, comprised of a business’ reputation, positioning, strengths, weaknesses, visual identity, as well as actual products or services. For professional services, your brand is arguably your most important asset and can make or break market recognition as well as interactions with potential new clients.

In this post, you’ll learn the five important pillars of successful, resonant professional service branding, which can help you increase your business’ impact and recognition with the right kind of clients.

1: A unique competitive advantage

Building a truly unique professional service brand can be challenging. When trying to market your firm and its services, you may find yourself asking, “How can I stand out if my services are virtually the same as my competition?” We can tell you that there is definitely something unique and valuable about your firm that only you can claim, but it can take time and research to define it.

Ultimately, claiming your unique competitive edge comes down to identifying what you do best for the clients you are best equipped to serve. Avoid broad, vague differentiators that other competitors can easily say. Some differentiating statements that are overused in the professional service industries include:

  • Quality customer service
  • Deadlines met on time
  • Personalized service to match your needs

While those are important factors, these services are fairly obvious and are too easily claimed by another business similar to yours. To discover your unique competitve edge, start with our blog post on how to find your differentiation factor.

2: Authenticity (a brand that feels right from the inside out)

From trusting your messages and services to the positive feelings consumers associate with their experiences involving your company, authenticity is a central piece of the equation that determines how a client feels about your brand. When 91% of consumers say they are more likely to buy from an authentic brand, authenticity suddenly becomes a priority for your business (Adweek).

What does authenticity look like in professional services branding and marketing? It’s about displaying your firm’s unique character to attract the right kind of customers. It’s revealing your firm’s human qualities which can help establish a sense of trust and transparency with your customers. Learn more about how to put brand authenticity to use to create deeper connections with the right kind of clients here.

3: Consistency

To build a strong brand and increase consumer loyalty, consistency in your branding is key. From social media to advertising to client-facing interactions, your messages and visuals should always align with your brand’s values, promises and aesthetic. In today’s market, 90% of consumers expect their experience with a company to be consistent across all channels and devices used (NJIT).

Employee behavior is an important part of brand consistency. As ambassadors of your brand, your team needs to uphold your brand values constantly. An internal messaging system that clearly defines your brand’s mission, values, and character traits is a useful tool for affirming that your brand is represented accurately every step of the way.

4: Targeted (speaking to your ideal client)

In professional service industries, a defined targeted audience is instrumental in developing a strong brand with efficient, effective marketing. Targeting is particularly important in legal, financial and health fields because products and services offered are often very similar, resulting in hazy differentiation and customer confusion.

We all understand the concept of an ‘expert’: a person, or a business, that has accrued deep knowledge about one particular thing and is therefore a go-to resource for people looking for solutions related to that thing. Experts are trusted and are able to claim authority in their field. On the other hand, we all know that being an expert at a lot of things at once is pretty much impossible. Identifying a target client has a lot to do with identifying the type of expertise you want to focus on providing (the narrower, the better), and find who it is that is looking for exactly what you provide. That marriage of focused expertise and client need is where professional service firms find visibility, reputability, and profit.

Find your ideal client with our blog post ‘How (and why) to develop an ideal client profile for professional service firms.’

5: The importance of design

With an ideal client selected and a differentiation factor determined, it’s time to put it all together with a unique visual identity. Design can take a back burner in professional services marketing, but considering the brain processes image 60,000x faster than text, it’s imperative that you have a strong design to make a lasting impression on your audience (Nuanced Media).

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of strong visual branding because it impacts much more than the way your brand looks; it impacts the way your audience feels about you, which in turn affects important elements of the provider-client relationship, like trust. Your brand’s graphic identity conveys its personality and character. The end goal of your brand’s design is to establish a professional “look and feel” that is consistent, impactful and congruent with your brand’s core identity.

To take a deeper dive into the art and scince of professional service branding, check out our latest e-book, Building a Professional Service Brand That Stands Out: How to Stop Looking Like All of Your Competitors and Attract the Clients You Want.  Also, don’t hesitate to leave a question for one of our team members below!


Branding, Design, Marketing