Why branding for professional services consultancies matters: Part two


Last week Ralph Ardill, founder of The Brand Experience Consultancy, looked at why a strong brand is important for professional services firms. This week he’ll go into his 8P’s which provide a framework for consultancies looking to take their brand to the next level.

Having worked on dozens of brand-led, business transformation programs for professional services consultancies across a wide range of sectors, Ralph has developed the 8P’s of professional services branding as a framework for developing your brand. They are a good starting point for consultancies setting out on a brand development journey.

1. Purpose

What drives your firm and gets you out of bed in the morning? What is the singular reason you exist? What do you want to see more (or less) of in the world? How can you best distill and unleash the power of this purpose to attract the best clients and talent?

Try using classic storytelling techniques – who is the ‘hero’ in your story, who or what is the ‘villain’ and what will your hero need to be and deliver to win the day?

2. Principles

What are your guiding organizational principles that will underpin everything you do and guide you towards fulfilling your firm’s purpose? Often expressed as values, charters or client promises, these high level commitments clearly define your priorities and the way you do things. They also set a clear expectation of the quality of service and experience clients should expect.

Avoid pithy, vague and ‘aspirational’ vocabulary here but instead focus on compelling commitments that clearly define and bring to life both the client and employee experience of your firm.

3. Practices

What are the specific working practices, initiatives, rituals or programs you have established in your business to ensure your purpose and principles are hard-wired, as opposed to strategic slogans on your notice boards?

Define the signature moments, memories and experiences in the lives of your clients and employees that above all others will truly demonstrate your purpose and deliver your superior value proposition in action.

4. People

How will recruitment, retention, development and overall work/life experience of your employees and clients be driven by your brand? What are your ideal employee and client brand journeys?

Develop personas that represent your typical client (and employee) audiences and use these personas to constantly inform, challenge and inspire the design of your future brand experience.

5. Policies

How will the operating policies of your business be developed to best encourage, re-enforce and deeply embed your brand purpose in your business?

Use your purpose as the ultimate ‘stop doing’ list to make sure you avoid activities that do not deliver on your purpose and principles. Then look to establish new policies in your firm where you can re-invest these resources to encourage the new purpose-driven brand behaviours that will set you apart from the crowd.

6. Positioning

What are the key areas, sectors, disciplines, questions, issues and subjects where you have the greatest right to lead, play and win?

Ensure that your ‘positioning’ has real teeth and relevance by being clear on what you stand for, who you are for, what you can do, who you do it for and why they choose you.

7. Products

What will your future portfolio of brand products, services and experiences be? And how will these best be delivered, developed, communicated and commercialized?

Try to avoid the re-branding trap of simply re-packaging business as usual. A re-branding programme built around these 8P’s should inspire you to develop new branded products, services and experiences along with adding value to your existing service portfolio.

8. Personality

Last but not least, how can all the above best be expressed and brought to life as part of a powerful and distinctive brand personality, image and tone of voice that can be embodied across everything from your brand name, identity and online/offline communications, through to environments, proposals, pitches and presentations?

Try to ensure your re-branding programme remains firmly focused on designing superior arguments for why people should choose to work with and for your firm as opposed to the design of new ‘looks and logos’.

These eight questions cut to the heart of what will drive the development of tomorrow’s leading professional brands. By concentrating on each and clearly articulating what kind of consultancy you want to build and how this can be expressed through the different touch points that make up a brand, you will create an organizational personality and experience that will help you stand out to clients and potential employees.

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