How do we stand out from the crowd?
My accountancy firm is looking to stand out from the crowd. I’m in a market where there are a lot of well-established companies. However, I feel our USP is that we offer a fresh approach, respond quickly to clients’ needs and offer closer interaction. How can I convey these points to the market through my branding?
A. Tricia Weener of Intelligent Marketing:
Unfortunately, your USPs are too common and will not enable you to stand out in the way you desire. They are not sufficiently benefits driven, focusing more on the services offered by the accountancy practice, rather than the added value that it can deliver to clients.
The starting point for any marketing strategy will be to fi nd a stronger differentiation for the firm, one that is going to appeal to your core customers and be realistically deliverable by the business. Once true ‘benefits driven’ USPs have been defined, a communications programme can be developed.
Stage one: brand consultancy
Get under the skin of the business. Talk at length with employees and partners to get a real sense of what makes the business tick and what they believe the USPs to be. If possible, ask clients why they work with you. You should then use these insights to defi ne the brand architecture, create your mission statement, corporate vision, values, brand personality and tone of voice.
These should then be presented and agreed upon by key stakeholders in the business. Bringing these core brand values to life is the next challenge. Internal brand workshops and communications programmes are good methods, as is the development of consistent sales materials. Crucially, they must ensure the entire company is singing from the same song sheet.
Stage two: brand identity
Next is the creation of the brand identity, which will go on to be represented consistently across all media and through all channels. In essence, you are creating a brand from scratch and need to become a brand guardian with a set of clear guidelines. At this point, you can determine the key USPs and the brand messaging.
For this you need to look externally as well as internally – talk to clients and business contacts. Often those outside a business can identify something unique that you take for granted. Then use the research to establish how you add value as a business and what makes people want to work with you.
Stage three: brand channels
Finally, identify all your touch-points. Think about the channels to your target audience, from your immediate working environment (your offi ces) through to the marketing communications and ensure the brand identity is visible in all – and don’t forget your staff. Use them as brand ambassadors and you will go on to benefi t from the powerful word of mouth this can create.