I find it ironic that many of the most people-driven enterprises in our economy – law, architecture, consulting, and engineering firms – are often the most superficial with branding.
For most professional service firms, “branding” is only about logos and color palettes. It seems branding’s only goal is to project a serious, professional, and trustworthy identity.
Unfortunately, this limited view of branding leads most professional service firms to the same bland destination.
Indeed, the Internet is littered with the drab, me-too, institutional websites of professional service firms. Flipping from site to site, one has a hard time distinguishing one firm from another. Across an industry, you’ll find the same, tired and predictable rational presentations of facts about each firm. In almost all cases, there are strikingly similar, and weirdly unnatural, photos of executives posed in front of wood paneling.
Does this sound like your professional service brand? If so, it’s really time to shift your view of what branding is capable of doing, and what a more humanly meaningful brand can do for your partners and your firm.
Challenged firms need a new approach
If your firm is struggling to attract new business, finding it hard to retain clients, losing the best recruits to other firms and languishing in the me-too land of professional services branding, its time a for a dose of human emotion in your workplace and in the marketplace.
Human emotion? Well, this is not about presenting happy, smiling faces or tear-jerking situations. Rather, it is about connecting in a more meaningful way with emotional human beings. The emotions and feelings I am talking about – which have the potential to propel your firm forward in a distinct way – are not frivolous or mercenary. They are relevant, engaging and accessible feelings that are totally natural to what your firm does, and what it does for people.
Creating a presence that resonates emotionally
For decades, branding has skirted around the fact that all rational decisions – from which mayonnaise jar to pick up off the shelf, to which firm to appoint – occur within a swirl of emotions. Apart from the emotions which an individual naturally brings to the moment (feeling in love, or feeling mad about being passed up for a promotion), there are also emotions in play that are introduced when an individual thinks about a particular brand.
These emotions – and the feelings they trigger – are either neutral, negative, or positive. Naturally, no brand intentionally strives for a neutral or negative emotional aura. But, what is strange is that few professional service brands strive for a uniquely positive emotional aura. This is particularly strange because of the human nature of the work professional service firms perform.
Emotive branding elevates professional service firms
We’ve found a way to bring professional service brands new meaning and relevance. We start by thinking of the best way for your clients, prospects and recruits to feel about your firm. We then guide you on how to update your processes, policies and practices so they better evoke these feelings. We create tools that get your partners and support staff to understand the value of emotional differentiation (both for the firm and individually). We help you revamp your firm’s communications, marrying your new emotional aura to your current rational presentation (the look and feel, the story you tell, and the voice you use).
Use emotions to differentiate in profoundly meaningful ways
Strive to make each experience people have with your firm more emotionally involving. Do it in specific, own-able ways that positively predispose them to act in your firm’s best interests. Create a distinctively appealing presence for your firm that stands apart from the crowd. Reach out using human emotion to make your rational story more compelling.
After all, people will decide based on how they feel about your firm’s brand. Why not do all you can to influence how they feel?
To see examples of B2B brand strategy and professional services examples please visit our client page.