Brand – it’s a word that gets thrown around often. But what exactly is a brand and why is it important to me and my firm? The American Marketing Association defines brand as “a customer experience represented by a collection of images and ideas; often, it refers to a symbol such as a name, logo, slogan, and design scheme. Brand recognition and other reactions are created by the accumulation of experiences with the specific product or service, both directly relating to its use, and through the influence of advertising, design, and media commentary.”
What does brand mean to your firm?
Your brand is much more than a logo, a color, or a tagline. More than just some brochures, tweets or a website. In its simplest form your brand is equivalent to your reputation. It is a collection of perceptions, experiences, and communications about your organization and your capabilities.
These include perceptions and conversations from both external and internal stakeholders. Do not underestimate the power internal stakeholders have to affect your brand if they do not completely understand it.
How Do Others Perceive Your Brand?
Your brand is a reflection of what your clients, prospects, vendors, referral sources, and employees think about the organization. Do you keep your promises? Do you deliver what you promised? Do you do good work or do you cut corners? Do you stay at the forefront of new developments or are you always the last to know? Do your employees behave in an ethical and honest manner? The answers to all of these questions, and more, make up your brand.
If you have a tangible product, part of what you’re selling is how that product performs. What the experience of using that product is like. How the product makes you feel when using it. If you don’t have a tangible product for clients and prospects to hold, touch or feel (like accounting and tax services), you have to think a bit more about what you are selling to prospects and clients.
In most cases what you end up selling is your brand, your reputation, your promise to deliver. For professional service firms, your brand becomes the collection of experiences clients and prospective clients have with you, it is the interactions with you and the outcomes those interactions produced. And that is why it is critically important for professional service firms to carefully craft their brand and safeguard its integrity.