Whether you’re a law firm, an accounting practice, an architectural firm or any other type of professional service, your brand identity is your first calling card. As your business grows and evolves, its identity may need to do so, as well.
If you decide that it’s time to enhance your brand, here are some best practices for how to approach its development to ensure that you land on an identity that is true to your DNA, competitively differentiating, and resonates with your audience.
1. Conduct a deep discovery.
Because all marketing begins with who, it’s important to conduct research about your brand among both your internal and external constituents. That includes company stakeholders, leaders and employees, customers, prospects, and external influencers if they exist too. The research methodology can be qualitative – in the form of interviews, focus groups or surveys—and should explore your audiences’ attitudes towards and perceptions of your brand. Look for motivators, persuasion levers and barriers for brand engagement. If your rebrand is intended to shift your positioning, you should probe the meaning, credibility and appeal of your future vision.
2. Assess the competitive landscape.
Look at how your competitors are positioned in order to identify white space opportunity for positioning your brand. Evaluate their creative communications to identify conventions that you can disrupt to stand apart in your category.
3. Develop a brand strategy.
Based upon what you learn during your discovery and competitive assessment, the strategy must reflect a key insight into your audience’s needs or beliefs that are motivating, your brand’s truth (or DNA), and on how you can differentiate yourself in the market.
4. If you’re renaming your brand, create a structure for brainstorming against your new brand strategy.
Are there different themes for your ideation? Metaphors, acronyms, names of the firm’s principals, regional affiliations, and blended words are just some of the naming buckets to consider.
5. Cast a wide net for your logo design exploratory.
By looking at different colors, fonts and icons, you’ll get a good sense of the visual components that together convey your identity and provoke a positive emotional response. If there are legacy attributes, be sure to consider those upfront. Also consider your competition: Does a color palette dominate? How can you break through this “sea of same?”
6. Develop a tagline that sets clear expectations for your audience’s future experience.
Does it capture what your brand stands for? Is it concise, memorable and unique?
7. Once you have your new identity established, make launch plans to unveil it.
It’s important to introduce your new brand internally—to drive its adoption, celebration and create brand ambassadors within your organization—and externally to rally clients and prospects. Consider a multidimensional direct mail piece to clients as well as regional or professional print advertising to make your new identity known.
Rebranding is an exciting and important initiative, so make the most of it with smart strategic and creative thinking. Remember, an effective brand identity will reflect your brand positioning, differentiate you as unique in the category, adapt to all marketing applications, establish a strong and ownable personality and poise your firm for future growth.