• Brand Purpose
  • Branding

Professional services: How can you say something different to everyone else?


  • Brand Purpose
  • Branding

The world of professional services is very large. Covering disciplines from lawyers to accountants, recruiters to building consultants, IT services to architects – we even technically fall into the bucket!

But despite the variety, there is a common theme running throughout the sector: people. Regardless of whether it’s a law firm or a design business you’re speaking to, the ‘product’ that’s being sold is people. And beyond showing off past experience or having a competitive pricing structure, it can be incredibly challenging to find a way to capture your audiences’ attention and tell them why you’re different.

So, in a sector that trades on the same currency – relationships – how can you stand apart?

Having people that care isn’t enough

The clue is in the name – it’s a service that’s being offered. So it goes without saying that any business within the sector should be able to provide excellent service. Consulting closely with clients, guiding them through whatever advice is being sought, explaining process and putting forward solutions that answer their questions.

All of these are table stakes – we expect this to be part of the package. Imagine for example, a company is in the business of selling light bulbs. You’d rightly assume that the bulb you purchase will light up the room once you install and flick the switch. It’s the same for a law firm offering council on a dispute or a recruiter putting forward candidates. We assume that advice is going to be correct and delivered in a way that puts our minds at ease. So having the fact you care as a USP is no good, because that’s the basic expectation what’s being offered.

The other problem with care is that everyone can say they do (even if they don’t!)

There’s no trademarking the word or having it protected as Intellectual Property. And that’s when this sector starts to get murky. When you can no longer see the clear differentiators or USPs. When all that separates businesses are the adjectives they use to describe their people, we’re in danger of getting a bit…lost.

Find the thing that makes you different 

Trying to work out how to articulate what makes you special beyond the things everyone else says is hard. We know, because we see with our clients all the time. Stating what makes you stand out, when what you actually do is the same as everyone else, is rather tricky to put your finger on it. But if what you do isn’t any different, and how you do it is with the same level of care…trust…integrity…honour… (we could go on and on) as everyone else, then it’s simply got to come from why you do it all in the first place.

We call this ‘why’ your purpose. Your reason for being, the point of existing – however you frame it, it’s the thing that justifies you as a business. And it’s this that we want to shape the brand around. You can read more about how to figure this out here if you like.

Then build your brand around it

If you have taken the time to work out why you do what you do, don’t waste the opportunity to bring it through your brand. Chances are your competitors won’t have been able to do this, so it’s a sure bet to get ahead. Take a look at the work we did for Ogier, a law firm who was going through change after a de-merger 6 month previously. After getting to know them better, we managed to help the Ogier team to realise that rather than shying away from the split it, they should embrace it. That actually, having a more focussed and streamlined offer was a good thing! And so came their purpose: To strip away complexity to get to what really matters. When it came to bringing this to life in the creative, we gave them the brand line ‘To the point’ and a visual identity that only allowed them to have a clean, crisp, singular idea.

So, whether you have gone through change recently and aren’t sure what to say about yourselves any more, or you’ve realised your competitors are all saying the same thing as you, take a moment to ask yourself a question: Why do you do what you do?

If you need help to find the answer, just knock.

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