A 10-Step Brand Development Strategy for Your Professional Services Firm

The most common misconception about building a brand development strategy is that it is a lengthy, expensive, time-consuming process that needs to be dealt with during the formative years of the company. However, that’s not always the case, and nor does it have to be that way. Brand development is a process that key stakeholders can easily sit and brainstorm over, at any given point of time in the life cycle of a business. In fact, in today’s fast-paced times, many big conglomerates, as well as small businesses, are reviewing their brand strategies and recreating, repositioning, refreshing their brands owing to changing trends, demographics, and consumer preferences.

Even if yours is a professional services firm, as your business evolves over time, you need to step up and refurbish your brand to reflect a modern outlook that resonates with what your consumers want. So when you plan to go ahead with your rebranding initiatives, it need not necessarily be a long drawn, grand or expensive job. If you can get the formula right, success is just a step away.

Here’s a 10-step guide to creating a winning brand development strategy for your professional services company:

1. Outline your Goals
A well-defined business strategy rests on the strong foundation of its business goals. Be absolutely clear of what you’re trying to achieve. Whether it’s increased visibility, or creating a new brand image or simply gaining customers – outline your goals bold and clear before you begin working on developing your brand strategy.

2. Identify your Target Customers
Zero in on your buyer personas – know your customers before they get to know you. The more targeted your efforts are, more are the chances of success. Once you figure out what each of your buyer personas are looking for, you’ll be able to craft messaging that directly fulfills their specific needs. If you don’t figure out the type of clients you wish to target, your marketing efforts would be diluted and scattered, hence losing its intended impact.

3. Position your Brand
To position your professional services brand in the market, you need to tell people how your brand is different from others in the same arena. For this you need to dig out your competitors’ offerings. Figure out what is it that they are offering and where they fall short. Armed with this knowledge you can position your brand and define your USPs that make your brand stand out.

4. Develop the Voice of your Brand/ Create a Content Strategy
Once you’ve figured out all the essentials, it’s time to get down to work. Create the content, the voice, the personality and everything that your brand stands for. This step is where all the action is. Your brand is not just the service you’re offering, it’s how your service is making your audience feel. It’s the experience they’re having with your service, that builds your brand. Without defining the voice of your brand, humanizing it and developing the right messaging, a well-planned brand strategy can easily fall flat on its face.

5. Create name/logo/tagline/mission
Create a tagline and logo that gels with your overall content strategy. Creating a name may not be in store for you if you’re an already established firm. But if your organisation is burdened by a name that no longer suits your brand, modifying the name could just be a gamechanger for your professional services firm. Remember that a clever tagline and logo are just symbolic of what your company represents. To make it real and believable, you need to live it.

6. Establish an online presence
It’s very important for a professional services business to have good online visibility. Create a well-structured and informative website. It’s the most lucrative branding and marketing tool that all your prospects will turn to, in order to learn about what your company offers. Furthermore, your website will hold the most valuable content about your business that you can use to leverage your SEO efforts. In the modern world, every prospect turns to social media or search engines to research, check, cross-check and even post reviews of the services they need. A strong online presence of your brand will only earn you more brownie points.

7. Promote through social media
Social media is perhaps the most powerful branding and promotion channel in our hands today. Every consumer spends more than 2 hours online every day simply browsing or searching for the services they need. Simply identify the social media channels that your target audience is most likely to be active on, and build a social media strategy that directly communicates with them. If your brand can tap the potential of this explosive medium, there’s nothing like it.

8. Personalise your communication
Humanise your brand communication. Don’t sound robotic, over-enthusiastic or try to baby-talk your way out of a situation. People value and trust brands that talk to them as real people. So get real and get talking.

9. Be Consistent
You’ve done so much to create the right brand personality, image, voice, and communication. Now don’t ruin it at the hands of carelessness and inconsistency. Maintain your brand assets and communication throughout different marketing channels and ensure that your employees follow the same. Create a rulebook for your employees on Dos and Don’ts of your brand. This way your brand value and image stays intact without losing its core.

10. Implement, Evaluate and Improve
This may sound easy, but it is the trickiest part of the whole brand development strategy saga. You might be surprised to know how often a strategy is developed, but seldom implemented the way it was planned. Don’t let that happen to your brand. Challenges will come, but find workarounds and go on anyway. This is why evaluation is so crucial. Evaluate your brand development efforts to see what’s working, and what needs to be replaced/modified. Are your goals being met? Are your efforts taking you in the direction of your goals? If the answer to both these questions is NO, you need to make adjustments and rethink the measures you’ve taken. The key is to constantly improve. The challenge is to stay strong and just hang on.

There you have the formula for a successful brand development strategy for your professional services company. When you get these basics right, there’s no need to invest in high-on-cost, low-on-returns strategies that just don’t deliver what they promise.

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