Professional service companies, categorized as mid-market, might be looking towards 2017 with a bit of trepidation. According to the National Center for the Middle Market 3Q 2016 Indicator, business growth has been identified as a top challenge for these firms. And mid-market or not, business growth is a real challenge for every sector of professional services in today’s hyper-competitive economy.
The Role of Brand in Professional Services
Even when personal brands are strong, as they often are for professional services, an overarching brand is necessary. Your brand is your firm’s most valuable asset. It sets the tone for the behavior of your employees and, most importantly, shapes how customers perceive your business. Consequently, your brand has a strong, direct impact on business growth.
And although it may seem obvious to invest in your brand to drive business growth, creating a solid case for doing so can be a real challenge. If the business is doing well, or even just good enough, people may perceive that any change will confuse customers or diminish the equity your business has established. It’s the common “why fix something that’s not broken?” thinking.
However, if a firm fails to continue to evolve its brand, it risks becoming outdated and irrelevant. The speed of change in today’s market is constant. And professional service businesses need a brand that is perceived as current if they want to attract top clients.
The other common misperception about the value of investing in your brand is that branding is a cost center rather than revenue driver. In fact, a 2015 Economist study indicated that 68% of business owners view marketing as a cost center. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Invest in Your Brand for Clear Returns
Here are 5 reasons why investing in your brand will positively impact your bottom line now as well as down the line:
With so many businesses offering similar services at comparable price points, firms start to blend together and have a hard time standing out from the crowd. Well-defined brands that tell a unique narrative and look different from competitors are able to draw attention. A tagline and a logo simply isn’t enough, though. In order to truly make an impact, you need to consider every brand experience and touchpoint.
A strong brand commands a premium price. It allows you to justify your worth and create demand. Investing in professional services is a risk and, as a result, can be an emotionally charged decision. Customers will be willing to pay more for your service if they believe the risk is low.
3. Business Development
A steady stream of leads is vital to survival for professional services. Expanding the number of prospects improves the chances of conversion. A strong brand creates awareness across channels and keeps customers knocking at your door – helping you close deals and build confidence inside and outside the organization.
In order to grow, professional service firm need to be aligned around the brand promise and story in order to create brand ambassadors with employees. The people inside your business are your strongest asset.
Tough times are inevitable. But a brand with an established emotional connection with its customers and prospects is prepared to weather the storm. In the unfortunate event that your business suffers from reputational damage, a strong brand can help carry the business to the other side with its head held high. And as your industry goes through a period of flux, an investment in your brand now will increase the potential to grow today and into the future, leaving your competitors fall behind.
Thriving companies understand the power of their brands both internally and externally. And as pressure mounts on marketers to deliver growth and prove their ROI, investment in your brand is critical to the success of your firm. Invest in your brand to position your firm for growth.
Emotive Brand is a San Francisco brand strategy and design agency.