Your brand is what sets you apart from your competition. It’s makes you stand on your own as a unique solution. It’s important to establish your brand – and keep it consistent – at all times, not just at the beginning. Building a reputation and establishing a brand can take years to create and just days to lose. So, make sure you and the other members of your firm understand the importance of brand care and growth. There are hundreds of thousands of professionals that do what you do. But they’re not you, your brand is you. So, show your potential clients what makes you the right choice for them and learn how to allow your brand to do this for you.
I like to think of branding in four parts that build on each other. Credibility, consistency, personality and brand promise.
The first thing you need to establish is your credibility. Your logo and tagline are the introduction to this first layer of your brand. Use your logo to show a little bit of your personality, while still holding a professional demeanor in the presentation. There are a lot of great resources to help you find the right colors, fonts and styles for a logo. Remember, this is your potential clients’ first impression of you and your firm – make it count.
Once you have your logo, start building on the other dimensions of credibility. Credibility is a simple idea, to be a reliable source of information or a quality service. So, how do you show this to potential clients? Start with demonstrating your value. What do you bring to the table? How are you different than your competition? Let them know. Listen to their concerns and show them how you are able to offer unique solutions, using your specific skills and experience. This will build your initial credibility. You will continue to maintain this credibility with your consistent quality services.
After you establish your initial credibility, keep it consistent. Every client, every time. You built a successful firm using your experience and knowledge, do not slip on the details. Or allow your employees or coworkers to slip. Have your processes set up to focus on the details of client engagement. Be consistent in your messages and how you and all of your employees or coworkers treat and interact with your clients. To you, they are just one client. But to your client, you are holding everything they have spent their life building. Respect that they may be emotional or nit-picky about your services; and try to understand where this comes from. This is their dream business or their family’s future (or both). Show them that you understand their stress and appreciate their attention to detail. Give them clear answers and set up time to discuss their concerns. Having this consistent thoughtfulness and attention to detail will be appreciated by your clients. Your clients will know that you have their back, and that speaks volumes for your firm and your brand.
You have established your credibility and are consistently holding yourself and your employees and coworkers accountable for the services you provide. So, what’s next? Establish your personality. Your personality and your ability to connect and build trust says a lot about you. And while it’s not an indicator of how good you are at your job, it certainly can be a factor in whether people want to do business with you. People want to work with people they like. As mentioned in Forbes, people will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Your personality allows people to feel comfortable with you. Able to discuss their concerns on a deeper level, allowing you to get to know them on that deeper level. Having this open and honest communication helps you work with your client better. Offering more than accounting services, but offering a true advisor role, will transform your brand into a living and breathing thing. If your client can tell that you truly care for them and their success, and that you are emotionally invested in them, they will trust you. Your brand is your word.
Which brings us to our final point – your brand promise. Your promise is to deliver services to the best of your ability, with their success in mind. This promise, being fulfilled consistently, is how you grow your brand. Your clients will know that you have their best interest in mind and you are there to help them. They will respect you, your brand and what it represents. This mutual respect is crucial for the success of any business. Your brand should represent you and should be a promise to your clients (and potential clients) that you will do right by them, with quality, consistent and ethical work. They will know what to expect when coming to you with an issue or a routine visit. So, I leave you with one final statement: Never underestimate the power of your brand.