March 27, 2017

Wondering how your professional service is unique? First, look at how it’s not.

Professional Service organizations (law firms, healthcare organizations, banks and financial services, architects and the like) face a unique challenge: claiming a unique positioning in a highly competitive market full of “me too” brands. Nothing is more important to long-term business success than maintaining a differentiation factor that is loud and clear because:
  • Unique, unmistakable brands are memorable, and memorable brands are more likely to be referred by customers or clients to their friends
  • It is much easier for your ideal clients to find you when you are clear about why you are their best option
  • Differentiation is usually built around a particular expertise, and experts can charge a premium, reducing the need to compete on price
While it seems backwards at first, it can actually be helpful to begin building a strong brand position by identifying what it is about you that isn’t unique. Many professional service firms use language like high quality, expertise, trust, industry leading, insight-driven, integrity, customer focused, X years of experience, and highly responsive when describing what makes them different than competitors. While these adjectives do describe exemplary work and service, they are not unique enough; they are too easy for others to claim. And, if you think about it, they comprise the basics of excellent work, which potential customers are already expecting. What can you offer them that is wow-worthy, not duh-worthy?
Here are some additional generic positioning claims that are specific to professional service industries that, instead of being a primary point of differentiation, are things that every firm should have covered:
  • Innovative legal solutions
  • Effective, ethical representation
  • Creative, results-oriented team
  • Breadth and depth of knowledge
  • Exceptional client service
Healthcare providers:
  • Patient-centered care
  • Advanced technology
  • Quality of care
  • Personalized customer service
  • Best financial products
  • Trusted partner and advisor
If you are the only professional service organization offering precisely your services within a certain regional area, and don’t have too much in the way of local competition – then that’s great, and branding yourself in a non-disruptive way is just fine! However, if you’re like most healthcare, legal or financial organizations, you won’t be as lucky. Standing out requires a unique differentiating factor that supports your firm’s positioning in the market (that is, the space you occupy in the minds of your customers in relation to your competitors). Put your differentiation factor through the test of asking, is it easy for one of my competitors to say this about themselves?
If the answer is yes, then it’s time to do some digging into what makes your professional service organization truly special. The encouraging part is that there most certainly is something there!Check out this blog post to see some helpful tips on identifying your differentiating factor. 
Need help overcoming this professional service brand challenge? Start a conversation with our team.


Branding, Design, Marketing