Professional Development

How to Damage Your Firm’s Brand in 6 Easy Steps

Good to know, bad to try.

In today’s competitive environment, it is often difficult to distinguish one professional service firm from the other. What makes your firm different? What makes your firm stand out? The simple answer is your reputation.

Your reputation is one of the most valuable parts of your firm and every effort should be made to protect it. It is the most important differentiator that sets your firm apart from all of your competitors. Your reputation is also synonymous with your brand, and building that brand takes a lot of time, hard work and attention to detail.

There are many moving parts and interactions that take place over a prolonged period of time. After all, your brand is the projection of your reputation in the marketplace. That’s not something that is easily built over night.

However, it is very easy to damage your brand quickly, sometimes to the point where it is permanently damaged. Something that you might think is inconsequential or a minor blip could actually have a big negative impact on your brand. That’s why it is important to pay attention to the details.

No one ever really sets out to damage or destroy their brand. However, if you’re bound and determined to ruin your brand, here are 6 steps you can take to make sure you do it with very little effort.

1) Make sure you have inconsistent messaging and brand image

As mentioned before, your brand is the perception people have of your organization. It is your reputation. It is your promise to behave in a certain, consistent way and deliver expected results. Behaving inconsistently or putting out inconsistent messaging or images will begin to create confusion in the marketplace and is a great way to damage your brand.

2) Over promise and under deliver

You can create ill will in the marketplace really quickly when your service delivery doesn’t happen like you say it will. Missing deadlines, adding additional fees and not being truthful in what your product or service can, and can’t, do and over promising performance goes a long way towards damaging your brand.

3) Make sure it’s all about you

Everyone loves talking about him or herself, but when you spend too much time talking about yourself and your firm, you will do damage to your brand. People want to know how working with you and your firm will solve their problems and benefit them. If it’s all about you, you’ve got it all wrong.

4) Be sure to misuse social media

Social media should be an integral part of your marketing strategy and is a great way to strengthen your brand and have a conversation with your audience. However, it’s also a great way to damage your brand. What you post to social media needs to have relevancy to your brand and your brand promise.

Your messaging needs to be consistent with your brand and the frequency needs to be such that the marketplace doesn’t feel inundated with your messaging and tune you out. Spending too much time talking about how great you are or posting irrelevant information is a surefire way to turn people off. And, no one wants to be continuously sold to on social media. Filling my Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook feed with meaningless content and sales pitches will go a long way toward making me dislike your brand.

5) Provide low quality content

Your target audience associates your brand with the quality of content you produce. The lower the quality of the content, the greater the likelihood that it negatively impacts your brand. Think of the different ways you produce content; video, blogs, whitepapers, advertisements, articles, social media posts, etc.

Is it relevant to what your customers need and want? Does it address the issues or concerns your audience is struggling with? Is it meaningful, well thought-out and consistent with your brand message? Do you have poor grammar or misspelled words? Is the lighting or sound in your video of poor quality? All of these seemingly small details can doom your brand.

6) Have a poorly designed website

For many, if not most, brands, the website is a critical piece of your marketing and brand strategy. A well-designed website that has an organized and uncluttered layout will have a strong influence on consumers’ perception of your brand. Pay attention to the amount and size of the text, the use of navigation tools, imagery and the overall layout.

Is the website consistent with the overall look and feel of your brand? Can the readers of your website find the information they are looking for quickly? Make sure your website is optimized for mobile. Nothing is worse than pulling up a website on your phone or tablet and having to squint to read and navigate it. Having a poorly designed website that is hard to navigate and does not provide useful and meaningful content is one of the quickest ways to damage your brand.

Strengthen Your Firm’s Brand

Building a strong, consistent and quality brand doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of hard work and effort to get where you want to be. However, it really doesn’t take much to damage your brand. One seemingly small mistake and years of hard work, effort and goodwill could be gone. Make sure you are vigilant when it comes to protecting your brand, details matter.

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Tim Allen is an experienced professional services marketing professional with broad experience in strategy creation, branding and business development. Mr. Allen has held top marketing positions in both large, national CPA firms as well as smaller, regional firms where he has been instrumental in creating and implementing a firm-wide marketing culture. He has written and presented extensively on the intricacies of services marketing and is currently writing his first book on the transition from college to career and creating your personal brand for the millennial generation.

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