5 Strategies for Branding Your Professional Service Business
Whether your practice is established and in need of a refreshed brand identity or you are beginning your practice from scratch, it is important to build the blocks of your brand from the ground up before advertising can organically take place. Your practice must have an identity before the public can properly engage with your brand and choose your services.
Start Planning for Success
Before putting any marketing strategies in motion, try to answer the following questions to begin cultivating the best brand from your business:
Who are you?
One of the most important parts of the branding process is developing a personified brand identity. Whether this means choosing a brand mascot or simply creating an effective company logo, this should always be a crucial part of your marketing strategy.
Take a moment to consider particularly effective branding initiatives. Companies like Progressive, GEICO and Kellogg all used the concept of a personified brand identity to win loyal customers. Their strategies gave customers one essential ingredient – consistency.
When a Progressive commercial begins playing, we feel comfortable because we know Flo will be in the commercial. When a GEICO commercial starts, the viewer immediately anticipates a talking gecko because the company has spent years developing their marketing strategy in a consistent way. At the start of a Kellogg’s commercial, a talking tiger doesn’t confuse anyone. It’s an expected part of the process.
A brand shouldn’t be predictable, but there should be a level of comfort for the target audience. Deciding what type of persona you want to project helps make the habit of consistency easier further down the road. Your brand identity will define how prospective clients respond to your business. While one luxury brand seems indulgent and regal to one group of people, another might find it elitist and snobby. Realizing you can’t please everyone is the first step in realizing success.
Your brand must be directed to a specific group, while letting all others fade into the background. Perceptions are everything to a brand. Consider the unique aspects of your business. What sets you apart from competitors? What makes you the better choice for clients? How do your services differ from other offers? Confidence translates positively to the audience, so take steps to distinguish yourself from the competition.
What matters to you?
Another part of the brand planning process should be articulating your mission, goals and core values. Companies that have already completed this process should revisit the information to see if there are any areas needing improvement. Other companies might not have any idea where to begin. To overcome this hump, conduct a community brainstorming session to help pinpoint the most distinct areas of your practice future clients should know about.
Maintaining the same identity long-term helps customers feel familiar, like they are part of your inner circle. Although innovation is also part of the equation, each step of the process should be thoroughly thought out before implementation.
After deciding on a branding angle, start thinking of how to share your story and values in a relatable way. Clients like to feel they are privy to private information, so find unique ways to communicate your brand along with your story to help clients gain a better understanding of your objectives.
By practicing consistency in this area, people more quickly trust your brand. Authenticity should always be a top priority with branding. People want to see a variety of elements when they look at your brand. They want to give their business to people who seem genuine, honest, passionate and educated, and they want to know the business uses integrity in all matters. Make these attributes the core of your operation and find distinct ways to communicate them with your target audience.
Once you establish branding consistency, focus on making your services equally dependable. This combination will win a faithful following and drive your reputation.
Who are your clients?
This part of branding requires a multi-faceted approach. To identify the best target audience for your brand, you must consider the existing market, develop a client profile, and discover how your audience is reached most successfully.
The first step is assessing the current market. Although the information won’t be concise, it’s important to watch competitors, monitor the industry, and determine what route you want to take in your branding. As you observe the competition, take note of what types of clients you want to avoid and what types you want to attract. Different companies will reach different demographics, so examine their approach and think about how you might brand yourself differently.
Next, start developing a client profile. Are you interested in reaching young adults or middle-aged people? Are you targeting men, women, or both? Is there a particular social or economic group you want to access? These are important parts of your brand. The more specific you can be about who you want to target, the more effectively your brand will affect a certain community.
Finally, study how a specific cliental can best be reached. Research how they use technology, how often they are on social media, and more. This information will define any future marketing campaigns, so tracking their tendencies is essential to launch effective initiatives in the future.
What matters to them?
After the initial launch of a brand, companies must monitor how clients respond to their efforts. This process is important because it helps campaigns be more specific in the future. There are a few different techniques businesses can use to perceive and meet customer needs.
Look at mentions, hashtags and more to see what people have to say about your services, and use the information to further taper your brand into a more articulate movement. Overseeing social media activity is made simple with an analytics tool like Hootsuite.
Be bold, and ask your clients what they think. Whether it’s about your legal assistance or your physical therapy practice, opening the floor can lead to highly beneficial conversations to help tweak your brand and your services to best match the existing audience. Remember, there is no way to please everyone. Focus on feedback from customers who meet your client profile, and use any negative responses to tailor higher quality services.
Learn the personalities of your audience. Businesses with a tendency to be bold sometimes attract more traditional clients. In this situation, consider transforming bold into firm to retarget those clients. Adapting to the existing audience is an important skill to maintain in branding.
How will you communicate?
Once the target audience becomes clear, start investigating the best methods of communication for the target group. Depending on the audience, communication may take the form of direct mail, email marketing, video marketing, or general online marketing through blogs, social media and websites. This is the last step in the branding process because all the previous information is essential to implementing effective communication.
The Big Picture for Branding
While consistency is one of the key points for branding, the process is constantly evolving. As you watch your audience grow and change, your brand naturally morphs with the crowd. Learning how to read the audience and maintain an authentic voice will help any type of brand succeed. Remember, to get the best results with your brand, ask yourself these five essential questions:
- Who are we?
- What matters to us?
- Who are our clients?
- What matters to them?
- How will we communicate?
After answering these questions, get ready to watch your brand spread its wings and take flight! To get advice from experienced branding professionals, contact the team at Clickx.
Solomon Thimothy is the Co-founder of Clickx, a Chicago-based white label digital marketing platform. He has been in the agency space for over a decade and has helped 100s of entrepreneurs build 7 and 8 figure agencies. He helps agency owners on a 1:1 basis to scale sales and fulfillment. Follow him on twitter @sthimothy