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
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??
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.
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.
About the Author
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.