Brands are never static. They need to be refreshed and invigorated over time otherwise they can fall out of fashion, be overtaken by the competition or simply fade away. The branding process begins internally with a shared set of common standards, values and behaviours around which people can rally.
A brand is not just represented by the visual aspects, such as the logo, collateral and website, but is also reflected in:
- the behaviour and attitudes of your people;
- the physical environment of your offices;
- the quality of the services you offer; and
- the manner in which they are delivered.
In my view, a strategy which focuses first on aligning organisational attitude and behaviour with the external brand promotion is far more likely to succeed than one focuses on cosmetic makeovers and vanity splashes.
Here are some tips that I have picked up during my career in managing professional services brands:
- Listen to clients by putting service right in the heart of the brand. Encourage your people to pass on feedback – good or bad – and do something with it. This gives a reality check as to what is thought to be important and given most priority versus what the client believes is most important and drives their choices.
- Your culture is your brand. Explain what behaviour is required and why, communicate successes and analyse where things went wrong to learn the lessons.
- Encourage your people to live the brand. Reward the behaviours that you want to see consistently exhibited by your people.
- Behave the way you say you do in your communication. If your pitch says you are ‘responsive’ codify what this actually means and create an environment that delivers it.
- Be consistent. Successful brands deliver consistently what the marketing promises it will do.
- Organise your operation around the brand. Everyone has a part of play in delivering the experience of the professional service brand. Respect this.
- Every detail matters because detail is what people notice and live by. You can’t eat, drink or sit on vision and value statements.
- Be authentic. Lead by example from the top.
- In a professional service business your people are your brand. Never forget this.
Beverley Landais, marketing and business development director, Saunderson House