Regardless of your firm’s size, there’s a brand - and a reputation - associated with it. While often used interchangeably, there are some stark differences between the two, and it is important to understand them when making a decision to strengthen either.
Your firm’s brand is what your clients, potential clients, and even your staff think of when they think about your firm, your logo and your services. These thoughts can be abstract, and are influenced by their past experience as a client or from working at your firm, or simply what they’ve heard about you.
Your reputation, similarly, is based on the history of your firm’s conduct with employees,
customers, and the local community.
Here’s an easy away to distinguish between the two:
- A brand is more product/service focused
- Reputation has more to do with your actual business
For a deeper dive into the differences between brand and reputation, check out this article from the MIT School of Business.
For now, however, let’s look at some of the ways you can improve both your firm’s brand and its reputation.
Define Your Purpose
Let’s say that you’re an accountant, engineer or architect. As such, you think it should be
obvious what your purpose is. But what truly makes you different from your competitors? What unique problems does your firm solve? What do you want clients or prospects to think of when they think about your firm?
When you have answers to these questions, you can then develop “the voice” of your firm,
including how your website reflects your firm’s personality, as well as logos and slogans that
Understand Your Competitors
To differentiate your firm from others, you first have to understand who they are, including what they are good at, and where they are weak.
Understand Your Potential Clients
Whether your firm has developed a niche amongst certain types of businesses or not, you need to understand what your clients (and prospects) need. When you are able to define a preferred target audience, you can then build a brand and messaging around that audience.
For example, instead of just saying that you offer business accounting services, it may be better to define your desired business clients as tech-savvy or located within a 50-mile radius of your office. And if you have a specific niche that you prefer to work with, your target messaging should be focused on that.
Create Mission and Vision Statements
Once you have identified your target audience and know your firm’s unique strengths, it’s time to codify them. Your vision statement should focus on goals and aspirations – and more
specifically, where and what you want your firm to accomplish overall.
Your mission statement should more concretely define your purpose and capabilities today.
According to Boardable.com, “Your mission statement focuses on today; your vision statement focuses on tomorrow.”
Ensure Good Client Service
Fact: bad customer service will cost you business. If clients are unable to get ahold of you, or
constantly faced with inconsistent and bottlenecked workflow processes, they will grow tired and resentful of your firm wasting their time. And unfortunately, this kind of reputation will precede you as you try to bring on new clients or staff. Clear and effective communication is an essential part of client service, so be professional, respectful, transparent and keep your clients updated at all times.
Trust is an essential element of your firm’s reputation, and to build that trust, you must be
honest with clients, employees and others with whom your firm interacts. Be forthcoming and take responsibility when mistakes occur, as well as remedy those errors as quickly as possible. This will help solidify your reputation, and help gain new business via referrals.