As an accountant, you may be wondering whether or not branding is really that important. After all, individuals and businesses will always need your help, right? Correct, but just remember that you are not the only accountant in the world.
The importance of branding for accountants
The accounting market is saturated. Consumers have endless options when it comes to who they want to manage their books, so you need to give them a reason to pick your firm over the rest. But how do you do this? Well, this is where your brand comes in. If done correctly, your brand will differentiate you and give consumers a reason to both remember and want to work with you.
Now, you’re probably wondering: what makes a good brand? And well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re not going to pretend there’s a magic wand that will solve all of your brand woes, but what we can do is provide you with some helpful tips to push you one step closer towards achieving your goals.
The brand basics
Typically, when we speak about branding for accountants, we will look at your brand image, brand positioning and brand identity. But what exactly do these terms mean?
Your brand image is how your audience views your brand, with their perception being based on the interactions and experiences they have with you. A positive brand image can bring many benefits to your accounting firm, including increased consumer trust, enhanced credibility and increased quality perception.
Your brand identity is how you want people to perceive your brand. And the more it aligns with your brand image, the stronger your brand will be. Your brand identity is made up of a range of elements, including everything from your logo and typeface to your values and customer service experience.
Your brand positioning is essentially what you do and who you do it for. This is something that can be tweaked over time as your audience and strategy evolves. To define your strategic position effectively, you’ll want to think about what you are best at or most passionate about, what your audience is most interested in and what your competitors appear to be neglecting.
How to approach branding for accountants
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to branding, but let’s kick off with the most important step: defining your values. Now, that may come as a surprise, because for many, the definition of brand is logos, colour palettes and typography. But that’s not the case, by any means.
The importance of purpose
These days, (most) consumers care more about who they are doing business with than what they are paying. The truth of the matter is, there are thousands of accountants offering the same services for a similar price, what differentiates you is your ‘why’. With this in mind, the first logical step to take when defining your brand is to start with your business.
Think about why your accounting firm is in existence. What is your vision and mission, your values and goals? Who is behind your firm and what is the problem you are seeking to solve, and more importantly, how are you going to do that?
Know your niche
You can’t please everyone. If you try to, you’ll end up spending a lot of money and getting little in return. Instead, you should focus on a niche; an area you feel you can deliver an exceptional amount of value in. This way, you can become a leader within that area and gain a lot of credibility, trust and most importantly, new business. Ultimately, the more specific you are, the more you can tailor your services and the more relevant your accounting firm will become to your target audience. And relevance really is key to success.
So, what’s the key to nailing your niche? Research. You need to not only think about your areas of expertise, but also how you can match this to your target audience. You also need to consider whether you are fulfilling an unmet need or simply throwing yourself into an overcrowded market. So, by all means start by listing your strengths, but don’t end there. Take your time to research the market, your competitors and your target audience, because without doing this, you will be taking a shot in the dark.
What’s your name?
Your company name can have a big impact on your audiences’ first impression. It should be catchy and memorable but also embody your values and offer insight into what you do. If you let your name do the talking, you’ll not only find you’ll attract more of the right clients, but you’ll also have to spend less time explaining exactly what it is you do, leaving you more time to work on driving those sales.
You’ll also want to consider the ‘radio test’ which ensures people are able to spell your company name correctly when they first hear it. If you make it too complicated, you risk losing out on business all because people are unable to type your name correctly.
Building your identity
When it comes to branding for accountants, you need to work on building an identity from the inside out. So, once you’ve established the above, start thinking about how you are going to bring it all together. From writing a powerful value proposition and defining your brand personality to forming your brand voice and designing your brand’s visual identity. It will all play an important part in your brand.
5 top tips for success
#1 Promote your purpose
Emotion sells and it’s what makes you unique, so you need to ensure your ‘why’ is communicated effectively to your audience. And the best way to do this? Storytelling.
People love stories; they are at the heart of everything we do. So make sure yours is heard. And the best stories? They are the ones that are authentic and empowering – if you twist the truth, people will see through it. If you don’t feel you have a story powerful enough to captivate people, you’re better off not telling one than making one up. It will do more harm than good.
But what can you do in the absence of an inspiring story? Focus instead on your mission and vision. This can still inspire people and draw them to you – especially if you make it relevant to them. To find out more about the importance of storytelling for your accounting firm & some top tricks to help you master it, be sure to listen to the Boss to Boss podcast.
#2 Cater to your clients
When building a brand for your accounting firm, you need to remember that ultimately, it’s your audience you need to impress. So, think about what might motivate them to do business with you – their pain points, values and preferences – and use this as a basis for your communications.
#3 Create consistency
Consistency is the foundation of every powerful brand. From your visual identity to your values to your tone of voice, everything should be implemented consistently throughout all areas of your accounting firm.
#4 Value your visuals
Whilst visuals should be one of the last considerations when it comes to brand, this doesn’t mean they aren’t important. You need to not only design for your target audience, but for the future. Think about how your visual identity will hold up over time: if you’ve got doubts over whether it will work in 5 or 10 years, try something else. The process of rebranding is costly and it can have implications for your business too.
When working on your visual identity, you need to not only consider what works well aesthetically, but also what best represents your brand. For example, certain colours can evoke particular emotions and your choice of imagery will say a lot about your brand personality, so do your research, think about how you want to portray your brand and create clear visual guidelines to ensure everyone is on the same page.
#5 Review & repair
As with most things in business, a constant evaluation of your brand is essential to ensure everything is implemented correctly and no problems arise – and if they do, they can be identified and resolved efficiently.
So, there we have a whistle stop tour of branding for accountants. Whilst it may seem as though we’ve covered a lot, we’ve merely scratched the surface. A lot goes into the branding process, and you should never be afraid of investing time to get it right – it will be worth it in the long run.
To discover more about branding for your accounting firm, contact us for a consultation. Or, if you’re keen to discover more marketing tips and tricks, be sure to check out our ultimate guide to marketing for accounting firms (it’s free).