Professional Services Brands
When it comes down to it, strategies to ensure credibility, expertise or commitment don’t make a professional service firm to stand out. We expect law firms, management consultancies, and professional services brands to be credible, to have expertise, and to be committed; they shouldn’t need to be reminded of these attributes, and this type of positioning holds no sway in an already overcrowded, homogenous group of competitors.
Many professional services firms “brand” themselves around ideas of client-centricity and attentiveness. For us, this simply isn’t branding. These ideas mean something, but they don’t mean enough. They are just repetitions of already established expectations.
At a basic level, these are firms whose business is to manage risk; they exist because they offer specialized help and expertise that most clients can’t easily replicate in-house. And that means that professional services firms must convey a higher level of trust. (Their “product” is intangible, so clients demand an exceptional level of trust that the advice and service they are seeking will be good.)
To ensure trust, many professional services firms fall back on safe, established, and outdated marketing tactics. Many are reluctant to rethink or change their already established brand strategy. The result is that they simply confirm their status as traditional players in a traditional sector; they conform to traditional brand and marketing standards. They end up saying the same things and looking all too similar; if they generate any emotion in their targets – which is rare – it’s, well, traditional and decidedly not differentiating.
We see two opportunities for professional services brands to ignite and transform their brands, to create brands that emotionally and meaningfully differentiate themselves, with their clients, to attract top talent, and to establish a reason to believe in their firms:
Feeling and purpose.
Feelings. The shift begins with feeling. If we evoke, discover, establish, and communicate positive feeling, we change the conversation, the look, the messaging, the way people feel, and, ultimately, the brand. This is where brand strategy comes into play.
We work with professional services brands to deeply understand their unique values—what brings them to life, both internally and externally. Our methodology encourages clients to not shy away from feelings and emotions, but instead to embrace them, to make them an integral part of who they are. We remind professional service clients that they are working with people and these people (their clients and prospects) feel things. And furthermore, every firm provokes a feeling. The question is, what is that feeling?
Purpose-led. Through workshops and collaboration, we work with clients to understand their purpose and reason for being. These collaborative workshops bring these answers to light, and also works to align internal Partners around developing a more differentiated, emotionally charged, purpose-led brand strategy. A firm with shared purpose strengthens and clarifies its brand and confirms that brand at every touch-point.
The more the feeling of a brand is constantly confirmed—in how the firm behaves; in advertising, in its go to market strategy, within the employee structure, through its published content, during in-person interactions—the more stickier the brand becomes. The stickier the brand, the better.
By developing a brand strategy that is fueled with feeling and purpose, a professional services firm offers something beyond traditional expectations about expertise, client-focus, and good service.
By embracing feeling and purpose, they can stand out, demonstrate the human power of empathy, and promise more than just the norm. They can promise a more meaningful firm, with more meaningful outcomes for their clients and the firm itself.
For additional insights on brand strategy and professional services, click here.
To see our latest professional services brand project click here.
Emotive Brand is a brand strategy firm.