Tag: legal branding

28
Sep

10 ways to win and retain clients

A couple of weeks ago my company created a brand–experience chart to compliment a presentation about ‘Branding for the 21st Century.’

It can be found here…

http://www.theloft.co/loft-brand-experience-map.pdf

The chart demonstrated the importance of company culture in creating brands that people wish to engage, and more importantly, continuously engage.

Client/customer/employee loyalty is one of the most important aspects of commercial success.
VW sell close to a half million cars in Europe every year and have done so for a very long time, it is the bed-rock of the company’s success and future growth. Customer loyalty is one of the most fundamental attributes in helping a company to scale.

This can also be true with employer-employee experiences, but this post will focus on the client/customer journey.

Here are some of our top 10 ways to building a brand experience that helps to win and retain customers and clients…

1. Create your own map

As a starting point, for brand experience; start with a single client/customer group. Anything your company does that engages the five senses of the end client is a touch point. Consider direct (your communications and activities) and indirect (press coverage, word-of-mouth, market perception, etc) touch points. Touch points can range from the initial hand shake and swapping of a business card to the client’s viewing of your website, through to your e-mail system (we have a blog coming up on the dangers of poor e-mail campaigns.) There can be thousands of interactions depending on the size of your company; take the most important ones and break them into sub-categories (website – home page, about us, contact form, twitter feed, etc…) or (people – dress attire,)

2. Look out for red flags

Ruthlessly vet your business for hygiene factors throughout the ENTIRE EXPERIENCE. These are interactions that will kill the brand experience in an instant and make it almost impossible to do business with your company in the future. Obvious ones include – slow website, broken web-pages (particularly important with multi-browser compatibility,) overly aggressive sales technique, spelling mistakes, un-expected price hikes or change in ‘terms of conditions,’ any form of over-promise and under-delivery.

There are also some really trivial touch-points which may seem obvious but you’d be amazed – members of the company dealing with the client/customer who may have a limp handshake. A really trivial thing, but along with others, can damage the brand experience beyond the point of no-return before a sale has even been made.

3. Don’t forget in-direct factors

Examples of bad press, poor reputation management or the ascent of your rivals in terms of reputation and perception will reduce the quality of your brand experience. These have to be identified and confronted as quickly as possible.

4. Differentiate yourself

You have to strongly differentiate yourself in the market for anybody to take notice of you. There are mainly four ways to define a brand in the market. How you deliver your product/service, what the product or service is, who the individual in the company is and why the company exists.

How you deliver your product/services | A key differentiator may be a special warranty, Hyundai made great hay when it began offering 5-Year warranties as a symbol of their reliability. It could be a unique client experience; one accountancy firm gave their clients jelly? No I’m not kidding; one of the fastest growing accountancy firms in the country actually gave their clients jelly as part of a zany brand experience. Not everybody wants jelly from their accountants but some did and loved it… However, make sure whatever you do is in keeping with your own culture.

What you do | Do you do anything that your rivals don’t? EE, for a very limited space of time, are the only provider of 4G phones in the UK. This differentiates them. ‘Law At Work,’ one of the fastest growing legal firms in the country, is a legal brand that only operates in the area of ‘employment law,’ this exclusivity of service re-defines their expertise for a very specific type of legal work. They are perceived as specialists in a market full of generalists.

Who you are | People defined brands, brands with superstars that front them up – including all of the following – Jamie Oliver, James Dyson, Mary Portas, Gordon Ramsay, Richard Branson but more interestingly many companies/individuals still pledge allegiance to the partner as opposed to the firm in professional services.

Why you do what you do | The big one! Why do you exist as a company? What is your purpose beyond profit? The most intangible of differentiation points but the most potent. Apple are defined by ‘thinking differently,’ Google are defined by ‘indexing the worlds information,’ and the Ritz for providing the best customer experience in the world.

This may seem a bit flowery to some but it is unbelievably important to driving client/employee loyalty.

The companies that can define themselves in this way are the ones that will create a real bond with their clients, customers and staff.

I suggest that you take a piece of paper. Make a set of axis and create 4 quadrants – why, who, what and how; list all of your rivals down and see if there is any great differentiator in a clients mind between yourself and your chief rivals.

5. Watch Simon Sinek, ‘Why great leaders take action.’

For more information on creating your differentiation by ‘why you exist,’ I really advise watching Simon Sinek, ‘Why Great Leaders Take Action.’ It is a 20-minute TED talk which beautifully explains the importance of your purpose beyond profit.

6. Find out why existing customers/client choose you?

Really drill down into WHY your company wins business. Is there a real compelling reason? Is it a logical or emotive reason? Most importantly, is that reason present throughout the entire experience? A contradictory competitive advantage or brand experience pretty much kills any chance of a second sale. People struggle to trust brands that contradict themselves so finding that out should be a matter of priority.

7. ‘Walk the talk’

For existing clients/customers, failure to ‘walk the talk,’ is critical. Any form of broken promise pre-sale will be punished when it comes to product/service renewal. Whichever feeling you decide to invoke in ‘sales/marketing’ has to be consistent throughout the experience. You must ‘walk the talk.’ If you’re selling safety as the differentiator in your service, this has to be evident throughout, if you’re selling a commitment to people or social justice, this can never be contradicted throughout the entire experience. Even if there is short-term pain, a betrayal of values damages the brand, brand authenticity and relationships with clients/customers and staff.

8. Build the emotional case

For marketing and sales, I briefly mentioned technical and emotive information. People make decisions based on emotion and then justify them with logic. That doesn’t mean that logical information such as price, location, delivery of service, size of company, etc will always be overruled by pure emotion. But if all logical elements are comparable, people will make decision based on emotion and gut-feel. If a brand can invoke some kind of natural feeling, this will help considerably in getting the company over the line in winning competitive pitches or tender against their competitors.

9. Work out your ‘purpose beyond profit’

Companies with distinctive cultures and ‘a sense of mission,’ will out-perform those that are purely ‘results driven.’ They allow for more consistent brand experiences which in turn drives loyalty, companies with genuine culture have an authenticity and ‘real-ness’ that people buy into. Furthermore, evidence of a unique or strong company culture will become the best marketing collateral that you will ever have. Don’t just have values, create a set of behaviours to sit beside the values and tell the whole world about them.

10. Build the brand from the inside out.

Think of your brand as a method actor/actress. 90% of what we communicate when speaking to others is in body-language not words. When actors/actresses have to depict their roles on stage, they naturally find it impossible to control every single part of their body language and also recite their lines at the same time. This is where method-acting comes in, the actors/actresses immerse themselves in the characters to become them in their own minds’ this allows the performance to flow and create a more natural and authentic performance.

For anybody with staff and particularly those of you that runs larger companies with potentially hundreds of thousands of touch-points, you aren’t going to be able to micro-manage every single interaction – like the method actor trying to control every part of their body language, it is impossible. The only way to allow for some kind of consistency of brand experience is to immerse your staff and suppliers, into the company culture. Define your culture strongly and then communicate it internally with as much rigour and gusto as you would with external communications.

These are just some of the main ways that you can build a brand experience that helps your company to win and retain clients.

For any further advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us…

Benedetto

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Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the branding consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotive brands.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design and strategy work to build emotive brands.

25
Mar

out of your head…

‘Hierarchy of information’

Remember those words.

Yes it is pretentious ‘designer-speak.’ But it is also one of the pivotal factors in the success of your website or digital presence.

Why, what, how?

Who, where and when?

These are all questions that must be considered when building new digital communications. One of the common questions we get asked from clients before building their websites is please justify the added expense of doing this activity. What’s the ROI? A question that once had me hiding underneath the table in worry is now one that I take delight in answering.

Whilst working with professional service firms I tend to notice that the partners tend to have good conversion rates when sitting in front of a prospective client. Their technical expertise and professionalism will usually win the day when speaking with new clients. Conversion isn’t as much a problem. Something I hear more of, is that they just don’t receive enough new qualified leads to convert.

And this really is the tricky bit.

This is where the company’s overall marketing and brand communications holds greater significance. Getting the right message to the right market gives you a better chance of getting more leads. And obviously your web presence is a pivotal part in this. We also find, when speaking with prospective clients, that if you ask any good accountant, lawyer, broker, advisor etc how they’ve helped their clients in the past. They’ll have wonderful and nuanced examples of how they’ve worked with different clients in different ways.

Call them ‘great stories’ or ‘great case studies,’ they have undoubted value to the people that are browsing your website, blog or LinkedIn profiles.

Where can you find these great stories?

Unfortunately they seem to live only in the heads of the people telling them. This clearly means that nobody, with the exception of those that know them or deal with them regularly, are going to know of the additional and specialised expertise.

A potential client almost certainly won’t.

Not only should they be online but they should be easily accessible too. Most people talk a good game but at some stage you have to show more.

Who? What? Why? Where? When? How?

Hierarchy of information means that you are brutally selective about the layering of information on your website or any communication platform for that matter.
Let’s be honest, we all try a little bit harder on a first date don’t we? We don’t show the other person absolutely everything on day 1 do we? Well not at the start anyway. We put our best foot forward and hope we build enough of a rapport for them to want to learn more. So why would you not approach your digital presence with the same attention to detail.

People in business are mightily busy.

Mightily busy.

So to just get a hearing, you have to remove every possible stumbling block between a prospect and what you can do to assist them.

I have said this before but Winston Churchill once apologised to his audience for a speech being too long because he just didn’t have the time to edit it for their ears.

You can forgive him.

He absolutely had the right idea. It’s YOUR responsibility to ensure that people get to see the right information, the information that can make a difference to them.

The information that justifies your fees.

It’s no good in your head when hundreds of people visit your website daily.

Well actually it’s really our responsability because that’s what we already do for all our clients. Hierarchy of information: layering the information in just the right way to help generate more sales leads. It takes time, intelligence and understanding but will make a significant difference.

How many client accounts do you have to win to justify the additional price of the website?

Yes, you’re right. It’s an absolute bargain.

Benedetto

About the Author

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Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.

14
Mar

The 3-Word Challenge

Those of you that read last weeks post would have noticed that we’re talking with various legal firms about their brand identities. I did a quick-snap poll of a few business people that I knew whether they could tell me what a couple of various firms stood for?

Why they would maybe use them?

Unfortunately, nobody could give me a reasonably consistent answer for one firm. It got me thinking about the whole challenge faced by all professional service firms in this climate. They may be very good at what they do and quietly do an effective job for their clients but if the clients can’t meaningfully describe why another person should use them then they have no means to refer, no real message in the marketplace. Unfortunately it means they have a very weak brand.

In addition to what I said last week – the vocabulary we use as designers – vision, values, brand, culture, DNA etc may not be the language everybody uses to discuss their companies. But, everybody both internally and externally should instinctively know what their firm is about and why people should engage them.

‘They’re the great corporate firm.’

‘They’ll look after you.’

‘Boy they’re expensive but worth every penny.’

‘They may be lawyers but they party hard and you’ll enjoy their company.’

‘They are ruthless.’

‘They are technical wizards.’

Don’t be fooled. These conversations are going on at dinners, at events, at networking breakfasts etc all over the country.

What do you think they’re saying about your firm?
Are they saying anything noteworthy?

I don’t really go for one-size fits all theories or process diagrams that tar everybody with the same brush but I have always said that there are two fundamental rules to branding.

1. Strong message
2. Consistency

The message has to be unique in the marketplace. If I hear another lawyer or accountant tell me they want to have a relationship with me or that they’re trustworthy and have integrity I am going to scream. No thank you, that’s the least of what I expect from another professional. Tell me something more interesting??

And consistency?

Well if you tell me your firm is ‘X’ and I buy in for that reason. When I meet somebody that also requires assistance with ‘X’. I want to make sure that everybody in your firm is going to provide ‘X’ kind of service.

Otherwise I am going to be let down or can’t refer.

Great brands are pre-dominantly one thing and are known for that one thing. And please don’t think only multi-national companies have brands. They may use different terminology but it’s as applicable to your favourite restaurant as it is to your firm.

The challenge is in the message. Who has the time to read war and peace when selecting a professional? We’re all busy people. So think of the perception you want people to have about your firm. Keep it brutally simple and work backwards from there.

This is where you really have to do some work. It’s you that wants the business isn’t it?

If it’s a paragraph, it’s too long and you’ve failed.

If it goes over a sentence you’ve failed.

If you can sum it up correctly in one word, you’re a genius.

But let’s say three words!

Give yourself three words to describe why anybody should engage with you. Short, concise and easy for people to remember you by. You’ll have to go through one hell of an exercise to get it down to three words. Those three words really have to be all-encompassing and appropriately meaningful.

But you’re smart people and it’s worth the pain. Ours is ‘design with soul.’ A huge amount of work went into those three words. A momentous effort with endless trials and errors.

But those words underpin everything we do as a company

– The way we work
– Who we recruit
– What services we develop
– Who we work with
– Selecting strategic partners

Its one of the key reasons we chose not to develop services such as online marketing, web-development, web hosting, etc. Even though they may seem like more natural fits to a company that’s most popular service is still web-design.

That doesn’t mean those exact words are used when people talk about us.

But…

‘passion’ is,
‘boldness’ is,
‘excitable’ is…

Work out how you want to be perceived and work backwards from there.

Or even better, give us a bell and we’ll work on it with you.

Benedetto

About the Author

BB Profile Pic Small
 
Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.

10
Mar

Passion and Innovation

I think in a few years time when I look back on the loft and its journey; this last week will be one that lingers in the memory. There were SO many important events this week I wouldn’t even know where to start. But I am going to select three and try to join the dots as I go along.

On Monday, I had a very interesting meeting with a partner in a large law firm. We are working more and more with professional service firms and starting to create individual propositions to them each that better serves their needs. Loft Legal will be a specialist brand communication service for law firms looking to strengthen their brand in the marketplace. At this stage, we’re still talking it through with different people and seeing where our services can fit.

The meeting on Monday was hugely significant. When asking the legal partner about the company vision and values; not only did he know them off by heart but gave individual examples about how he had applied them in his legal work. This was fantastic, I was impressed by the passion and resourcefulness- my only question, as an aside, was why these examples weren’t more evident on their web-presence but I’ll get back to this part of the story later.

Onto the next related event…

Tuesday saw the release of the awe-inspiring ‘LaFerrari’ at the Geneva motor show – outrageous, dramatic, truly-beautiful. There are no words. I love the design of this car; Ferrari has made more ugly cars than beautiful ones in the last twenty years but this one is stunning. Above that the engineering is breathtaking. They’ve built a semi-hybrid powered car that will go to 60mph in less than 3 seconds, weighs less than 1300 kilos and laps Fiorano, the Ferrari test track more than 5 seconds quicker than its predecessor the Enzo. At first I thought, this car is 12 years in the making. But no it’s more than that – the pulling together of all the resources and expertise of a company means this car is 66 years in the making. 66 years of moving the game forward. Of using its pedigree in racing to build faster cars.

How do they continue to do this?

Innovation.

What fuels this innovation?

Passion.

Ferrari is a small company, tiny on the grand scheme of things. They do not have limitless resources. But Ferrari behaves more like ‘a cause’ than a company. Everybody at Ferrari knows what the company is about and they do a fantastic job of getting this vision across. One of the great aspects of small companies is the compactness of the organisation. The sense of a shared purpose. ‘LaFerrari’ has one or two big innovations but the main body of work is in the details. Thousands of small, iterative details that have been lovingly created to build something out of this world. Collectively they all combine to help form something incredible.

Its innovation and passion that lies at the heart of a number of companies – those are also the ones that happen to have the strongest brands in the marketplace.

Coincidentally, this was further confirmed on Thursday when Paul Fletcher of Edinburgh University put together a strong presentation on that very subject at Thursday mornings Comms Breakfast. He spoke of the problems with companies being overly-results focussed and why ‘innovation’ is the only way to climb ourselves out of difficult times. But he also spoke of the issues with innovators – difficult to manage or control, disruptive, etc. He even went as far as stating that nobody in the room would have had the patience to deal with a young Steve Jobs in their companies.

Difficult to believe as that is.

Innovation in itself is difficult to do but I was delighted that he agreed afterwards with my analysis that innovation is fuelled by passion. And that it has to be fostered from the people at the top. The relentless march of progress is driven by people that love what they do and strive for better. It’s present in all of the great causes of our time and is the invisible hand that enables people to drive companies forward.

Which takes me back to Monday’s meeting.

I am afraid to say that I was unsure if the legal sector would be a good fit for the loft. I was delighted to hear that there are culturally aware firms that were enacting on their vision. I have been saying for a long time that to build stronger brands; Behaviour is more important than words. In this meeting, the passion was evident. Passion which is sometimes difficult to see with legal firms. Imagine the possibilities if you could leverage the entire workforce – all of the junior associates, trainees, partners, managing partners, strategic partners to innovate on behalf of a company’s vision and values? Furthermore, imagine if you could leverage the entire company to communicate this online or offline.

From a ‘brand’ point of view. what can be stronger than a passionate 200-300+ brand advocates enthusiastically articulating the company message at events, dinners, when speaking with family and friends, online?

Call it advocacy, call it internal marketing, call it whatever but it’s a tremendous opportunity. I only realised on Monday that we may have an opening for ‘Loft-Legal’ and it lies in this area. Having vision is important but it has to be articulated properly. It has to be crystal clear – it’s what the likes of Ferrari do very well. But not just big multinationals you’ll find this sense of purpose in restaurants, engineering firms, charities, etc. They may not use our words – brand, vision, values etc but it’s definitely there. This is an area we can definitely help.

My company is ‘design with soul.’ But what is becoming apparent is we need the ‘soul’ bit to come from the client to do great work. What was most exciting about Monday was that we can build a service and proposition with the loft potentially innovating on our own vision. Doing something innovative and delivering something of additional value to clients. Traditional design channels work remains incredibly important – photography, fonts, graphics, motifs, messages etc. We’re amongst the very best at it but I realise that we operate in a hugely competitive marketplace and we must continue to innovate to build a better business.

Through the Finance Gap, we’ve got designs on advocacy too. But that’s a story for another day. Like I said, it’s one of those weeks I think I’ll look back on as a significant turning point. Loft Legal has the potential to make an impact for both legal firms, but other professional services too.

Watch this space.

Benedetto

About the Author

BB Profile Pic Small
 
Benedetto Bordone

Creative Director of the loft.

Benedetto runs the creative design consultancy, the loft. Based in the centre of Glasgow, the loft creates emotionally engaging brand identities.

Benedetto began his design career aged 9, sketching cars in the loft bedroom of his parents house. Even then he realised some eternal truths. Alfa Romeos are infinitely cooler than Ferraris and always have been. Time has only hardened this opinion. Since then, he has been on a journey taking him from his hometown in Kilmarnock to Coventry, studying car design aged 17, three separate spells in Italy followed where he interned, worked & freelanced for distinguished design companies – BeeStudio, Alfa Romeo, Honda Advanced design & Stile Bertone.

Setting up his own business was a natural step for somebody as independently minded as Benedetto. The loft was set up in 2008 and offers a comprehensive branding and communication service to its clients. The company combines a deeply analytical approach into the clients culture and commercial targets before engaging in creative design work to build emotive brands.