A strong brand identity isn’t just important for big corporations - it’s vital for every kind of business, including accountants and bookkeepers. Giving your practice’s branding a boost doesn’t have to cost the earth. Here are some tips for building a brand that can help your business thrive.
What is branding?
Branding is about much more than just your logo - it’s about the perception your customers and prospects have of your business overall. Your brand can encompass everything from your colours, typeface and imagery to the way you describe your services and communicate with your clients, whether that’s via social media, email, on the phone or in person.
Your brand is the sum of all the ways that your practice presents its ‘face’ to the world. It’s your business’s personality that sets you apart from all the other accountants and bookkeepers out there - and it’s what will make your target customer choose you over your competitors.
Making a good first impression
When choosing a supplier, people really do judge on first impressions, whether that’s in person or online. Your logo, website, social media profiles and business card are the branding equivalent of your work attire, so consider the image you’re projecting. You wouldn’t attend a client meeting without thinking about what you’re going to wear - whether that’s ‘smart casual’ or something more formal - and the same applies to your business.
The key to making a great first impression is to identify your ideal customer, decide on the type of accountant or bookkeeper who would appeal to them, then build your brand accordingly. If you’re targeting young IT professionals, for example, you might use bright colours and tech-savvy vocabulary alongside content that discusses the technology you use to make their lives easier. If you’re targeting more traditional businesses, you might opt for darker hues to convey stability and expertise, combined with content based around time savings and industry specialisms.
Doing the work in advance to clearly define who you’re talking to will help you create the right sort of image to attract them to your practice.
Creating your logo
A strong logo is one of the key assets you should create to communicate your brand to the world. It’s a good idea to work with a graphic designer when developing your logo. While this will have an associated cost, it’s an investment that will pay dividends in the long run.
A good logo should feature your business name and incorporate a core colour that will represent your business in all your marketing materials. Think of it as a ‘mark’ that can be recognised at a glance: it should be easily readable, even at a small size. Ideally, your logo will be with you for the lifetime of your business, so it’s important to get it right.
Crafting your message
A logo is often combined with a strapline that summarises the ethos of the business in a few words. Developing a strapline is a useful exercise as it forces you to summarise your key message or unique selling point (USP) in as few words as possible.
Working up a mission or vision statement can be a good place to start. You can then cut this back to the essence to find your strapline. You could also expand your thoughts into a statement to use in your social media profile descriptions, website homepage and printed materials.
Make sure that this core message lies behind all the content you produce and informs your ongoing communications with your clients and your prospects. If over time you realise it’s not quite right, hone and iterate it until it hits the mark.
Reinforcing your brand
With your messaging and logo in hand, put some time into making sure that your website, social media profiles and printed collateral, like your business card, are worthy of the brand you’re trying to create.
Think about the public face you’re showing to your prospective customers when they find you online, and consider their experience once they start to work with you. Are you representing your brand at every point that a customer interfaces with you or your staff? Make sure that your brand permeates through everything you do, right down to how you answer the phone.
Keeping the brand at the heart of your business’s culture will ensure that your clients and prospects experience it, and it means they’ll be more likely to recommend you to people they know. In the long run, this is how successful brands are made: a core idea, clearly expressed and communicated, which resonates with the target audience.