Building Your Brand

By Michael Alter
 
Your firm's brand is the image that is continuously presented to the outside world, customers, prospects, and the greater community your small business serves. The process of branding your firm is about leveraging who and what your business is known for  your brand is your business identity.
 
In a recent article about branding published on AccountingWEB, the author explained brand as the image you project. The article suggested branding, if not managed well, can be a silent deal killer. It also points out the various ways your image is being projected, including your office, you, others, materials, your car, and how you communicate. These aspects can also apply to the image your firm projects.
 
Branding requires consideration and planning. Think about the heart and soul of your firm as you prepare your branding strategy. Branding your firm will help prospects attach a persona to your business; it is a quick, simple, and memorable statement. For example, you may decide to make some connection such as, "twenty years of exceptional customer service," to highlight customer service excellence while also communicating a long history of caring about the customer experience.
 
As you think about branding, consider your history and how your firm got started, what you do today, and where your firm is headed. 
 
Tips for Building Your Brand
 
Capture how others describe your firm. Speak to customers and discover what terms they use to describe what they believe are the strengths of your firm. Ask customers to describe your firm. They might use terms such as friendly, well-organized, and responsive. Based on this feedback, make a list of words that best describe your firm.
 
Develop your brand description. The description of your firm is a few words or a statement that defines your firm. Think about the words on your list that resonate as words you would prefer to describe your work and the needs of your target audience. If "friendly" or "great customer service" is how customers describe your firm, they are telling you what is important to them. You may decide to include your staff to help you define your brand description.
 
Promote your brand everywhere. 
  • Add your branding statement to your letterhead, business cards, brochures, social sites, and e-mail signature line.
  • Ensure your brand statement is communicated to your staff as the image everyone working in the firm presents to the outside world.
  • Post photos of your office, staff, and customers on your website and in your marketing material. Photos help customers and prospects relate to your brand and the people behind your firm's success.
Read more articles by Michael.
 
About the author:
Michael Alter, payroll expert with an MBA from Harvard Business School, is a nationally recognized spokesperson providing thought leadership and sensible advice to help accounting and payroll professionals build deeper more profitable relationships with clients. Alter, president of SurePayroll, writes the Trade Secrets column on INC.com and is frequently published in Bloomberg TV, Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine.
 

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