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Viewing posts categorised under: Branding - service industry

Beyond the Logo: 3 Devices to Brand Your Law Firm

Posted by Liz Papagni in Branding, Branding - service industry | 0 comments

Rhetorical devices in branding

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Any divorce attorney who’s received questions from family members regarding tax law understands one fundamental truth: In the eyes of the general public, a lawyer is a lawyer. That’s why branding is so important, no matter how big or small your practice is. Stacy Smith of Carter Conboy in Albany, NY, says, “Research shows that, when measuring law firm branding ROI, there is a direct correlation between a strong brand and superior profitability and firm value. Many lawyers believe ‘brand’ simply equates to developing a firm logo when, in fact, your brand should be the first step in your firm’s tactical marketing strategy and unique selling proposition.” And she’s very right. Developing a brand involves so much more than simply designing the image used to identify you. You must even dig further than your law specialty. These are things that every other law firm has, whether three attorneys or three hundred. So, what are you doing to ensure clients come to you before anyone else? Here are a few ways to get started.

Employing Rhetorical Devices

For many in need of law services, each of the rhetorical devices is in play. These include:
  • Logos – logical ideas. A man needs legal assistance. A lawyer is the next logical step.
  • Ethos – credibility. A man needs legal assistance. He wants someone knowledgeable and trustworthy.
  • Pathos – emotional appeal. A man needs legal assistance. He’s probably facing one of the hardest moments of his life.
This is all very deep and super Greek, but it’s also very important. Before you can begin developing your brand, you have to consider these three separate appeals and how you’ll use them to reach potential clients.

Logos

Let’s talk about logos first. It’s pretty obvious that someone who needs legal help will seek out a lawyer, right? How do you make sure your firm is the logical choice for that person?  Yes, you’ll need to identify your firm by name, and you’ll need a logo potential clients can recognize on sight. Just remember that few logos scream “Lawyer!” so you’ll have to find other ways to tell people what you do. The next logical step is to identify your specialty, but make sure you dig deeply. Yes, an author who just received his or her first contract needs an entertainment lawyer, but does your firm handle authors or actors? In order to make your entertainment law practice the logical choice for authors, you need to make sure they know exactly where you stand.

Ethos

After you’ve convinced potential clients that hiring an attorney when they need legal help is a logical decision, you then have to convince them of your credibility. If it’s not too cheeky to point out, attorneys have a particular reputation. To overcome this reputation, you must work to convince clients that you are credible, reliable, and knowledgeable. How can you set yourself apart from other firms, both large and small, when it comes to your reputation? The first way, of course, is to simply be credible. If you want to brand your firm as understanding, helpful, honest, and knowledgeable, your reputation must support your claims.

Pathos

Appealing to the emotional side of your clients is much easier than it sounds, but you must first realize the importance. Why does someone seek a divorce attorney? Obviously, there are things going on in his or her personal life that require a delicate touch. Part of your branding should then include the sensitivity with which you approach each case. Real estate law offices may believe their cases are straightforward and without emotion, but the truth is that buying a new home is a big deal. Those on either side of the deal will feel extreme anxiety, sadness, excitement, loss, and maybe even helplessness. If your branding standards don’t include the emotional side of closing on a home, you could lose out to more defined brands. Before developing your brand for any law specialty, consider the emotional stake your clients will have. Address these topics when devising your campaigns so that logos, ethos, and pathos take equal part. Once you realize how important logic, credibility, and emotion are in developing a brand, you’ll spot the rhetorical devices everywhere. What companies have you seen putting these theories to work? I’d love to know your thoughts, so please leave a comment!

3 Branding Secrets That Set Your Accounting Firm Apart

Posted by Liz Papagni in Branding - service industry | 0 comments

accounting firm branding tips

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We've talked about why building a brand for professional service industries is important, and we've run through the many reasons brand development can be difficult. Now that you’re on board, you need to know how. Unfortunately, many service industries simply don’t understand how powerful differentiation between brands really is. One such industry is accounting. For one moment, consider ten other accounting firms, whether they’re national names or your local competitors. What individual feature—aside from their specialty—sets it apart from the crowd? If you can’t think of one thing, you now know why developing a brand for your accounting firm is essential. So, where should you start?

What Consumers Want

Do you know your value proposition and your buyer personas yet? If so, now it’s time to determine what really makes you different. Before you can develop your unique value proposition, you have to ask yourself several questions. The largest, of course, is “What pain do my buyers have?” The next is “How can I ease this pain?” The problem most service industries encounter is that the basic pain points are the same. Eileen Monesson says, "Although most firms think that they offer something unique, hardly any clearly communicate what really distinguishes them in the market. A close look at accounting firm websites will show that most firms use service as a positioning strategy. Service is not a unique selling position, although the way that you deliver that service could be." Of course consumers also want an accounting firm that is knowledgeable, fair, and honest. That means every accounting firm will base their brand on these standards and just hope buyers find them first. It also means you don’t actually understand your buyers at all.

Dig Deep into Buyer Personas

Determining your most likely buyers won’t help you if you don’t dig deep to discover their pain points. So, let’s say you've developed a fictional representation of a person likely to use your accounting services. Let’s call her Small Business Owner Sally. She’s in her early forties, married to her company (and maybe a very understanding husband), and a fan of getting great deals on name brands and designer goods. Organization and cleanliness are important to her, and she doesn't have time to wait around on anyone. Sally is also up to speed on most technology, especially when it comes to marketing her business. Does this sound like some of your buyers? Probably. Now, what does this buyer really want, outside of honest accounting services?
  • Swift service
  • Fair prices
  • Latest technology
For a moment, let’s consider the last point. Did you know that only 38.8% of small to medium business owners believe their accountant uses up-to-date technology? Over 60% of those potential buyers out there would be thrilled to learn your firm makes a point of using the very best technology. Others may be able to integrate swifter service or lower prices for excellent service into their branding standards, but you could pull out ahead of them with your software programs.

Keep Your Promises

Whatever your specific value proposition may be, you must be sure to keep your promises. In fact, delivering what you promise is how your brand will make the transition between abstract and tangible. If your accounting firm not only uses the latest in technology but also trains small business owners on financial software for bookkeeping throughout the year, make sure users always have a firm grasp on their new technology before letting them go. If your promise to your clients is that you’re always available when they have questions, make sure you continue that service after you have their business. By developing a value proposition that meets your buyer persona’s specific needs—not just those that lie on the surface—you can set your professional services company apart from the rest. That is how you’ll begin to develop the branding standards that give your company its true identity. If you're ready to stand out from the crowd, we can help. Reach out any time to 714-595-0963 or lpapagni@marketingiw.com.  

Formula for Branding a Service-Oriented Company

Posted by Liz Papagni in Branding - service industry | 0 comments

branding professional services

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Companies that provide professional services often struggle when developing and implementing their brand. In fact, the process is so difficult that many small businesses simply give up and just hope their “brand” will eventually identify itself. If you think those businesses eventually fold, you’d probably be right. Even companies that offer no tangible products need to develop some identity that sets them apart from the competition. The problem is, with no products for buyers to test, to hold, and to eventually purchase, how can one service organization say his or her company is better than the next? There is a formula you can apply when developing your brand: Brand = value proposition + buyer personas + proof. Let’s break each down, because nothing is ever as easy as it looks.

Killer UVP

We’ve talked before about developing a unique value proposition, but in professional service brands, the “unique” part of UVP is the most important. Let’s examine tax professionals for just a moment. How, exactly, could one tax accountant set his company apart from the tax company next door? Like most companies, the focus likely begins with the usual claims like client-oriented service, building lasting relationships, emphasis on integrity, or driven by results. These are all worthy value propositions, but they’re the same tired claims every other service organization makes. What can a tax company actually do for clients that another company might not? H&R Block got it right with their latest campaign: Get those clients some money. This company is now branded as the tax company that will get clients the biggest possible refund during tax season. That’s tangible, right? You may have to devise new strategies in order to offer unique value to your customers. The boost you get for your brand and your recognition among potential clients is definitely worth the effort.

Target Your Buyer Persona

Believe it or not, the key is not to reach as many people as possible with your brand. Though, if you brand yourself correctly, consumer awareness will follow. The real key is to drill right down to the exact people most likely to buy your products. As an example, let’s consider a divorce lawyer just beginning his practice. Is everyone out there a potential customer? Of course not. He can forego reaching out to singles and happily married couples, regardless of their age, race, or gender. Does that exclude a lot of people? It does, but they’re people who have no intention of contacting a divorce lawyer anyway. Why waste time and money building a brand that appeals to someone who will never use your services? The tricky part about developing buyer personas for the service industry is that demographics often don’t provide enough information.  Tax professionals, attorneys, and investment firms serve a wide variety of people from all walks of life. Trying to narrow down according to race, gender, age, marital status (though definitely important to our fictional divorce attorney), and even occupation may only serve to muddy the waters. Instead, your buyer personas need to be fictional representations of those who will buy. You must know their needs, the rhetorical appeals they respond to, and the specific challenges they face. Do they respond more to logical or emotional appeals? Does the prospect of something bad happening if they don’t use your service get them moving? The more specific you get when identifying your customers, the stronger your brand will be.

Proof Packs a Punch

You can market your value proposition to your buyer personas all you want, but you’ll gain no traction if you can’t provide proof. Proof that your tax company will find refunds others can’t. Proof that your divorce attorney practice is affordable and sensitive at the same time. Proof that your marketing company will produce real results. Your proof can come in the form of case studies, surveys, and other research. Potential clients will take comfort from hard numbers whenever you can provide them. Statistics hold a lot of sway, but they’re not your most powerful form of proof. Where you’ll really see the best results is in social proof. Dr. Robert Cialdini, creator of the Six Principles of Influence, says, “We're particularly susceptible to this principle when we're feeling uncertain, and we're even more likely to be influenced if the people we see seem to be similar to us.” What your past customers have to say about your service will help you build and solidify your brand, so don’t shy away from asking them to contribute. Include testimonials that support your value proposition from buyers who match your specific buyer personas. Other potential clients who have considered your company will see themselves in your clients and services, which is the true tipping point. What struggles have you faced when developing a brand for your professional services? Feel free to start a conversation right here in the comments.