Branding is important. It’s not a new concept but it’s reach is often ignored. Every time a prospective client or existing client has any contact with us they should be exposed to the message of our firm. It should be our goal to instill and reinforce who we are with every contact we make to our clients. At first glance this may seem benign because we often misjudge the power and effectiveness of proper branding.
It is said that first impressions are so potent that upon meeting someone we will make assumptions on who they are, if we like them, their socio-economic status and much more in the first 10 seconds. The same is to be said about our brand. Think about the next time you’re speaking with someone and they hand you their business card. Do you think that they are knowledgable, trustworthy, capable, and established? While we may not ponder long on these questions our brains have already processed this information and compared it to how we recognize ourselves and depending on what we want from this relationship, we will have made a decision.
Because branding is so much more than just a logo, you will need to consider every contact that you have with your clients and prospective clients.
When thinking of branding we often think of our logo and that’s a great starting place. Without a logo we can’t move forward. We’ve consulted with many companies and while redesigning or re-imagining their logos, and it never comes without great thought, anxiety, and creativity. Owners and managers start with how they imagine themselves or how clients see them. Those are great places to start but we like to take a step back. Starting with what would we like to say, or to communicate in a logo? This can be difficult for some owners to frame within their minds, they may not think logos say anything. However, when we look at popular brands and even local brands we are being told something. Sometimes it’s “we’re fun,” “you can trust us,” “we’re professional,” or “we work fast.” All of these begin to tell a story, a story of how we want the client to feel and how we want them to perceive our business. Now, we can’t expect a client to know everything about us from a logo alone but it begins there. We will show you examples of branding in use and when used properly, how it can make a big difference on your clients perception of your firm.
Branding your practice extends beyond your logo. It’s your business cards, envelopes, invoices, brochures, email newsletters, your website, and social networks. Many times when we consult with clients about their branding, owners will obsess over the most minute detail. While being tenacious in branding is important, we suggest to take a step back and consider if a single word, color change, or spacing make clients or potential clients walk away. I know this might sound contradictory to what I was just saying above, but let me assure you, it is not. Yes, it does matter. Yes, you should care about the details. Yes, the smallest of details can change everything. While it is very important, it’s easy to get lost amongst the details forgetting about the bigger picture. We had this client who couldn’t step back and see the bigger picture so it took him over a year, a whole year, to decide on a single version of his logo. When he finally decided, we had over 50 versions of the logo, four of them looked markedly different, the rest were so minor most people who looked at them couldn’t point out any difference at all. What I’m stressing is that you need to very attentive to what your branding logo says, but once you’re 90%-95% decided, there are many changes that will go unnoticed by the majority.
Because branding is so much more than just a logo, you will need to consider every contact that you have with your clients and prospective clients. What materials, whether in print or digital, are seen the most and matter the most. Some firms think that because they’ve seen their competition do something in print or digital that they must do it, but that’s not always the case. Remember, your clients came to you for a reason. We’ve had clients that want every type of envelope they use to be properly branded with their new look. While that’s good business for us, it isn’t what’s best for the client. Should they print envelopes they use regularly? Yes. Should they do every envelope? No. My point is that they spent money in creative time and printing materials for a piece of branding that clients will rarely see and will barely interact with. These are the rulers you should measure against. How regularly will your client see it? How long will they interact with it? A good example is a business card. It’s useful for its information, it’s often handed out to prospective clients, current clients, and colleagues. You spend time on the message that is communicated through your business card. A brochure or postcard is a one time message, but it will answer questions or communicate very important information so it’s level of branding should be high. The envelope and invoice you send your clients is something they interact with regularly. You want it to be found easily amongst a stack of unopened mail and a pile of invoices. This is why branding matters.