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The Essential Elements of Professional Branding

professional brandingProfessional branding distinguishes one individual professional from all others. It’s the magic ingredient that allows us attract potentially ideal clients.

Professionals often give up their distinctiveness by trying present themselves in a manner that they think is expected of them. Invariably, this leads to copying the business and marketing practices of others. As a result, they lose their distinctiveness.

(Truth be told, as a lawyer, I failed miserably at meeting the expected image of a lawyer. Many clients told me with a sense of relief that I didn’t act like a lawyer. )

Without distinctiveness, all members of the same profession seem pretty much the same to potential clients and referral sources. All lawyers seem much the same, all accountants seem much the same and so forth. Given that every one in the same profession seems much the same, it would follow that their services would also be much the same, right?

As a provider of professional services, you know that’s not correct. You know that no one serves and satisfies clients the way you do. You also know how you help clients and how they benefit from your help. But do potential clients and referral sources know these things?

Professional branding will help tell the market who you are and how you help clients.

Strategically, a professional brand is also a key component of the marketing framework, which provides the structure for all marketing communications.

Your Combination of Attributes

What makes us unique as individuals the combination of physical, emotional, and intellectual attributes that contributes to how we think and act.

Personal Characteristics

In a professional services business, many factors contribute to your distinctiveness. Your paper wardrobe…everything from business cards to correspondence, thank you cards and advertising pieces have an impact on your personal and professional branding.

Your website, blog/social media posts activities and content also influence how others see you.

In the best professional branding, each and every aspect of your marketing reflects your distinctiveness.

In effect, your personality represents your values in action. It’s how you behave and interact with other people. Because actions speak louder than words, your behavior sends a powerful message about who you are as a person and also as a professional.

Your Competencies

These are personal and professional skills that enable you to interact with other people and serve clients.

This distinguishes you from every one else…including others who provide services similar to yours.

It’s the contribution of your personal attributes that contribute to how you interact with clients, contacts and your colleagues. Defining your uniqueness involves addressing questions such as:

  • What can you do for clients that is better than any one else?
  • What is distinct about your business and your brand?
  • What value do you deliver to clients?
  • How is it better than what the competition offers?
  • What benefits will your clients receive from buying and using your brand?

What Does Your Brand Promise?

A brand promise is the cornerstone of professional branding as a strategy to generate more new business.

Properly developed and managed, the promise can generate new business and referrals from past clients.

However, poor brand development and weak business management will lead to broken promises, which drive potential clients to the competition.

By consistently providing quality service (key component of the marketing framework) in effect you promise that clients will continue to receive the same quality.

This promise of quality is reassuring to your clients and contacts. It increases their comfort in continuing to deal with you and also recommend potentially ideal clients to you.

brand positioning statementYour Brand Positioning Statement

Distinguishing one professional from the others is an ongoing challenge. Personal branding is the key to distinguishing ourselves from others. Is is also the starting point for professional branding. It’s that unique combination of that makes us unique in a world of copies.

Typically our professional branding is articulated in a brand positioning statement

If the concept of a brand positioning statement is new, the following template illustrates what they contain.

For (ideal clients), (your business name) is the (professional brand) delivers (brand promise).

Simply fill in the blanks with your own details and continue to refine your statement until you are happy with it.

Many professionals, and clients for that matter, see their work as more than just monetizing their services. In addition to selling services for the purpose of earning a living, many of us want to make a difference in our clients’ lives. In situations like that, it can be helpful to in include reference to your why in your statement. This can add an additional element of comfort for potential clients thinking of hiring us.

Increasing the Awareness of Your Professional Branding

Your professional brand awareness represents your position in the marketplace. There are several approaches to raising your brand awareness above the competition.

Storytelling—the world’s oldest communication tool is becoming increasingly important in many aspects of business. It is also important in marketing. It is our individual personality that helps increase our likeability for potential clients. By telling your story you can showcase your personality. Stories spark emotions. We have an emotional side as well as a rational side to our character; effective storytelling appeals to both sides of our character. Authentic stories help you build emotional connections with customers.

Live experiences drives 65% of people to recommend the brand and 59% to buy it afterwards – more than any other type of brand experience.

When chosen and implemented effectively, the right brand color, logo,  imagery and slogan can differentiate, motivate, and elevate a business. For best results, draw upon the expertise of an experienced and qualified designer. If you don’t know any such experts, ask your network contacts for recommendations.

An outstanding brand distinguishes us from the competition, separating ourselves from the competition…well positioned to attract more and better clients.

Unfortunately many brands fail, never achieving success because they can’t compete in a crowded marketplace. Here are some lessons that can be learned from four once-mighty brands that have failed.

Brand Research Ensures The Ongoing Health Of Your Brand

Brand research ensures the ongoing health of our professional brand, allowing our brand to continue to play its critical role in our marketing, again with  maximum effectiveness.  Similarly, without brand research, marketing professional services is handicapped by a variety of otherwise preventable issues. One such issue is the commoditization of professional services.

In the simplest of words, commoditization of professional services renders your service interchangeable and undistinguishable from those offered by your competitors.  In effect, this process undoes all the great benefits of your brand.

Tell Your Story…Honestly and Accurately

From a marketing perspective, professional branding is virtually meaningless unless it is communicated effectively. And the best way to communicate your uniqueness is to match it with your brand promise.

Use all of your marketing materials, especially your advertising, to tell the story of what makes you different from all other service professionals. Present factual, specific reasons of what makes your service really good. Make a complete case. Tell prospects what they can expect from hiring you.