Your brand identity is such a huge part of your firm, it’s everything your firm encompasses, not just your logo or website. Your brand is your firm’s vision, mission and values–it’s the offices you work in, the response to client emails, the language used (internally and externally), and ultimately how your firm’s services are perceived by clients.
“Building a brand today is very different from building a brand 50 years ago. With the Internet connecting everyone together, companies are becoming more and more transparent whether they like it or not.”
Source: Tony Hsieh, Your Culture Is Your Brand
Every fragment of your firm’s services are scrutinised by clients. And today, their views are now shared online in forums and on social media for all prospects to see. This means that a small issue resulting in a disgruntled client, or positive experience resulting in a happy client is more likely to be shared publicly, going on to define your brand identity. Therefore, your brand is not what you tell your clients, it’s what they tell each other.
In a way, your firm’s brand is a lot like string theory.
String theory offers the idea that everything is interconnected. Much like your firm’s brand identity, there is an interconnectivity with all aspects of your business–from the delivery of client meetings to the language and images used on social media ads.
A brief overview of string theory…
Once thought to be the smallest matter that existed, we later learned the atom holds much more inside. Today we know that electrons, protons and neutrons make up the structure of the atom, but even smaller than that is the quark–a tiny particle which makes up protons and neutrons. This is the smallest matter proven by physicists, but there is a theory which believes there may be something even smaller—strings.
Still yet to be proven, string theory is based on the notion that within quarks there are tiny string-like filaments of vibrating energy, like a string on a violin. The strings vibrate at different frequencies within protons, neutrons, electrons, and quarks. When these vibrations change, so does the type of atom (of which there are 115 different kinds).
This is just like your brand. Even the smallest change to your business will have a knock-on effect, leading to changes in client perception and ultimately, a change to your brand identity.
Each aspect of your brand can be compared to a different part of the atom:
Electron: Your firm’s language (internally and externally).
Just as electrons play an essential role in numerous physical phenomena, the language of a firm plays an essential part in a firm’s brand.
How do you communicate within the firm? Is the language clear and concise, or do you use lengthy jargon? This makes a huge difference when communicating to potential clients—they need to be able to understand what you’re telling them, otherwise they’ll look elsewhere. The content you’re sharing needs to be relatable and in plain English. Small changes in the language you use will see your firm branded as user friendly and not over complicated.
Proton: Mission, Vision and Values.
Proton is Greek for “first”, which is why it’s like your firm’s mission, vision and values—the key elements of your firm’s brand, which should be developed before anything else.
What is your firm’s mission and how does it add value to your target audience? Do your firm’s values give you credibility? We live in an age now where almost all firms are seen to be giving something back to the global community. Your firm’s mission, vision and values have to relate to potential clients; they can’t be the same as they were over 10 years ago. Corporate social responsibility is now a huge part of an accounting firms’ brand identity–something clients will look for before contacting you–but 10 years ago this wasn’t the case.
Neutron: Visual Identity.
Visual identity is usually the first thing people think of when considering brand. This is because, like neutrons are required for the stability of nuclei, a brands visual identity is required for a brand to exist.
Your firm’s visual identity is made up of the graphics, colour schemes and images used throughout marketing materials, websites and even your offices. Do you have a strong brand identity? If your client was to see a brochure using your visual branding, but without your logo, would they know it was from your firm? Your visual identity needs to be associated with your firm and consistent throughout all of your resources. If a prospect picks up your brochure (which they like the look of), but they visit your website and the branding is completely different, they’ll think they’re in the wrong place, or that your website is outdated–neither are a good outcome.
Quark: Online Presence
Just like there are many types of quarks (six to be exact), there are many ways to be present online, all of which contribute to your firm’s overall online presence.
Your firm’s online presence isn’t just your website, it’s your business pages on social channels, your employees’ presences on LinkedIn, your client reviews on online forums, your online advertisements and your YouTube videos—any resource your firm shares or engages with online. Look to remove or update any pieces of content online which aren’t aligned with your current branding. If there is any negative feedback on forums or social media, make sure your firm is seen to acknowledge the issues raised and attempt to resolve them. Similarly, if anyone praises your firm, look to thank them for using your services. Your online content needs to stay relevant, and it’s important that you maintain engagement with clients to improve your firm’s brand identity.
Strings: Client perception of your firm
Like ‘strings’, client perception impacts all elements of your brand. Therefore, it is vital that you know what your current clients and prospects think of your firm—that’s your brand! If they work with you because they think you’re very professional, but feel your communication efforts are lacking, then you need to improve on your interaction with clients. Or, they may think you have great communication efforts but feel that your firm doesn’t have great credibility. In this case you should look at ways to improve the credibility of your brand, which can be done through testimonials and social proof.
Small changes across each element of your brand are not insignificant. Each change impacts what your client’s say about your firm (positive or negative), thus changing your brand’s overall perception. Just as string theory suggests, the smallest change in the vibrations of ‘strings’ (customer perception) will change the composition of an object (your brand).
As the evolution of string theory continues to change direction, so too will the evolution of your firm’s brand identity. Consumer buying behaviour continues to shift and technology will advance beyond our imagination, so your firm’s brand needs to adapt. If you want to speak to our senior team about adapting your brand for future clients, get in touch.