Branding Your Service Business – It’s So Much More Than a Logo

June 4, 2014

Branding is so much more than a logo or business card. It’s a reflection of everything you do as a company from answering the phone to addressing a customer complaint. Your brand is the customer’s perception of your service from the way the phone is answered to how their problems are resolved. Perception is reality. Companies are challenged because they haven’t found leverage to express the most distinguishing element of their brand. This is one of the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industries, and quite frankly other industries, too, biggest challenges: we have commoditized ourselves. But don’t lose hope, there is a way to overcome it.

Periodic brand audits are a great place to start. These include audits of company brand, internally and externally, as well as your systems and processes. It’s no easy task to complete a brand audit, because it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. However, you can utilize your business plan or former marketing plan to begin the process. If you don’t have either one, don’t worry, you can create one during and after the brand audit. To really gain a true perspective of your firm, hire an outside consultant. They will be able to guide you through the entire process. You will need to evaluate everything your employees, customers, and even prospects see, hear, feel, and think.

Branding, Construction Branding, HVAC Branding, Contractor BrandingCompanies need to determine where they want to go and who their target audience will be. Branding is clarity, messaging, positioning, marketing, and top-of-mind awareness. Clients must be educated about everything you offer, and don’t believe for one second they realize everything you do. When you offer more than one service, it’s highly likely your customer base doesn’t realize you provide all the services you do. If you had a dream client walk into your office while you were on vacation, could your staff handle negotiating a contract with them? They should be able to, if they are a brand believer in your company.

Set yourself apart from your competitors by offering things your competitors don’t. If you do this, you’ll be providing a differentiating service that your competition is not offering. You must create a niche market for your company. You can identify your niche market by following the 5 steps:

  1. Find a price niche – Determine a pricing mechanism that is different than your competitors and utilize that. For example, if your industry typically provides project based pricing, offer a monthly subscription for your service. You must think outside the box.
  2. Look for low-hanging fruit – What do your customers want that you or your competitors aren’t currently offering? Find THAT and offer it.
  3. Before you try to look different, figure out how to be different – Find a way to be different but don’t change your company culture (unless you need to) to do it. Don’t be something you’re not or don’t want to be.
  4. If you are doing something different, be sure you look and sound different – You must communicate and message your unique selling proposition, so your customers know what sets you apart. Differentiation.
  5. Ask a trusted advisor – Sometimes you are too close to your brand, so find an expert outside your company to ask about your brand and the perceptions of your firm. This will give you some great perspectives that maybe you hadn’t thought about in the past.

Building your professional services brand isn’t easy. It requires you to dig deep and make serious strategic business decisions about who you are and who you want to be as a brand. This framework provides you and your team to build a great professional services brand that lives up to your customer’s, employees’, and prospect’s expectations.