The beginner's guide to creating a brand for accountants

Absolute beginners – get back to basics with our new guides. This one looks at creating a brand and proposition for your accountancy firm.

PracticeWeb has launched a new series of short, easy-to-understand guides covering the basics of digital marketing, one aspect at a time, because we’ve been listening to the accountants we work with.

You might think ‘brand’ is fluffy nonsense, bandied about by marketing types, obsessed with fonts, colour palettes and logos – but it’s much more profound than that.

In our beginner’s guide to creating a brand and proposition we look at:
  • What is the difference between brand, branding and identity?
  • What is a brand?
  • Why create a brand?
  • How do you know you have a strong brand?
  • Ways to differentiate yourself in the market
  • Things to avoid when creating a brand
  • Where do I start in creating a brand?

We hope this guide will help you to better understand what a brand is, what makes a strong brand, why create one, and how to build and implement it for your accounting firm.

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Sample: The beginner’s guide to creating a brand and proposition for accountants

Introduction

You might think ‘brand’ is fluffy nonsense, bandied about by marketing types, obsessed with fonts, colour palettes and logos – but it’s much more profound than that.

Brand includes several factors which, together, create a point of difference, enable businesses to attract the right clients, and inspire employees.

Equally, you might believe it’s something only big companies need to worry about – not a priority for smaller UK accountancy practices with less expansive budgets than, say, Nike or BMW.

In either case, hard evidence of the effect brand can have on business growth should make you pause for thought.

BrandZ is a brand equity database which estimates the value of 100,000 individual business brands in 45 countries. Through customer surveys, they identify each brand’s strengths, weaknesses, and common traits.

They published a report in 2015 which looked at how businesses bounced back from the financial crisis of 2008 and found firms with a strong brand recovered nine times faster than those with a weak brand, or none at all.

If that’s piqued your interest, how can you go about building a strong brand to see your firm grow faster than your competition?

In this beginners’ guide we’ll cover what a brand is, what makes a strong brand, why create one, and how to build and implement it.

Mike Crook

Managing Director, PracticeWeb

What’s the difference between brand, branding and identity?

Let’s start by explaining the terminology and industry jargon so we’re all on the same page.

When it comes to creating a brand, businesses usually think about designing a logo, choosing the brand colours, fonts and other assets that require design input, such as business cards and websites. This is actually the end part of the process, rather than the beginning.

Let me unpack this further, in order to create a strong brand we need to understand three distinct terms – brand, branding and brand identity.Let me unpack this further, in order to create a strong brand we need to understand three distinct terms – brand, branding and brand identity.

I know what you’re thinking – these terms all seem to mean the same thing just said in a different way, but that isn’t the case. These three terms all play an important role in building the image of your business.

Brand – the meaning that people attach to your firm

Amazon magnate Jeff Bezos says “your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room”. In other words, brand is everything we know, think and feel about a company. It is its meaning and the story that goes along with its name.

Branding – the process of managing the brand’s meaning

It is a strategy used to communicate your business. How do you want to come across? Loud, exciting and youthful, or calm, thoughtful and mature?

Branding is something your customers experience each time they interact with your brand and is used to influence the way they think about it.

Identity – the elements used to identify a brand, including your logo

Fonts, colours, logo, photography style – all these are the building blocks used to create a range of assets that will help your audience to remember you and what you offer, as well as to differentiate you from your competition. The key to creating a good identity is keeping it distinct and consistent.

What’s a brand?

Brand is your starting point. It‘s what your firm stands for, it’s purpose, it’s meaning. It’s what you want your clients, employees and industry to think of you when you’re not in the room.

Think of big name brands, like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Coca-Cola. When you think of these brands you have an emotional response to them, whether that’s good or bad. That feeling you get, that’s brand.

There are three main elements that you need to work on when building a brand:

Reputation

From the services you provide to the way you operate, reputation is what the market, employees and ideal clients think about your firm, potentially opening up opportunities.

Expertise

What you are known for in the market, how you express your knowledge and prove you are the go-to accounting firm demonstrates your expertise that will attract your ideal clients.

Visibility

Expertise is worthless unless your firm is seen in the right places and forums at the right times, where your prospects can find solutions from your information and insight.

 All three of these work in harmony to build your brand.

Depending on the stage of business you’re in and what you want to do with your brand, you’ll need to figure out which elements you need to adjust or work on.

If you’re a startup, for instance, you may have years of expertise from a full-time job at an accountancy firm but your new firm won’t have brand visibility or a reputation.

You’ll need to dial up the expertise and gradually build on the other two elements as you grow.

If you’re an existing business looking to strengthen your brand, you’ll need to work out which area you’re weakest on and work to improve them.

If you’re an existing business looking to change market perception of your firm, you’ll need to work on all three but in a different way to a startup.

You need to change perception, which may mean unpicking years of historical brand perception.

 

What’s inside our beginner’s guide?

  • What is the difference between brand, branding and identity?
  • What is a brand?
  • What does a strong brand look like?
  • Why create a brand?
  • How do you know you have a strong brand?
  • Ways to differentiate yourself in the market
  • Things to avoid when creating a brand
  • Where do I start in creating a brand?

How can we help?

Our brand and position programme aims to build you a strong brand and proposition, which increases your firm’s credibility and visibility in the market. Our service will set your firm apart from your competitors and provide clear, compelling messages for your ideal clients.

Get in touch to start your brand journey by emailing us on hello@practiceweb.co.uk or calling 0117 915 0420.

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