Branding is very important. Everyone and every business has a brand. Including our accountants and consultants. In attention to branding creates a brand that might not be what you would like, but nevertheless you will have a brand. Branding needs deliberate attention.
A brand is an intangible image a company has. It cannot be felt or touched, it cannot be bottled or mass produced, and it cannot be changed without effort. Logos and trademarks are not the brand, but are evidence, depictions or reminders of the brand. You do not need a logo, but if used, it conveys the brand so it must be carefully chosen.
We work hard at supporting, strengthening and projecting our brand. And we do it all the time in all situations.
Here are some recent things our team did and that you can think about doing:
• Try to dress appropriately for the client, but a little more upscale. Wear fine ties to client that appreciates suites/formal wear and if you have a meeting and think about what to wear, with no doubt, always wear a Batik.
• When you go to a client meeting and have a memorandum that is more than two pages, prepare a cover with the client’s logo and have it bound into a booklet.
• Try to reply to every email saying that it has been received, and if a reply is needed, give a time or date. Always leave some lead time and make sure to respond sooner.
• When a response is needed, it is much easier to call with your personal answer rather than typing or dictating an email. If clients have their phone number in their email address, it is just one click away on the cell phone to dial the number. If client doesn’t answer, leave a brief message or ask for a call back.
• Work primarily off your cell phone and always reachable with it. Now you should be very careful to call people who might need to call you back on your cell. When you have a direct dial number in the office, if you call from there, that number is not recorded on the receiving phone. Instead, your firm’s general incoming number shows up on their phone. Then, no matter what your message is, you get called back on the calling number, causing delays since it goes through the receptionist. If you are not in, they have to leave a message, when it is likely you could have answered the call on your cell phone.
• Sometimes you are home and need to call someone. Never ever use a home phone even if the land line is more convenient. If you do, that can become the number of choice or convenience for the person who needs to return your call, or to call you at some other time. This can invades your “personal” space and can clog up the home’s voice mail with business messages that should only be heard by you (not by family member).
• Work at showing “availability.” Do this by frequent calls to clients “checking in” or even stopping at their offices or factories if you are in their area to say hello. These 10-minute showing-ups work wonders in indicating availability and that you are thinking of them. You can also do this with referral sources such as attorneys and other accountants.
• Write frequent blogs and columns such as this. They can be serious, or some aren’t—and are designed to signpost your personality and interests. We believe this personalizes you and makes yourself more approachable.
• Buy and mail books to clients that you believe they would be interested in or enjoy reading. You do not have them sent directly to clients, but have the book sent to you and you repackage it to send out. When you can, mail it to the client rather than bring it to them. This indicates you were thinking about them afterwards and took the time to get the book and mail it to them. You can use POS, Tiki, JNE etc. Mostly using the one day delivery service such as Go-Send for mailing books can be more convenient when the address is not too far from where you/your office are.
• The type of car you drive also fits in with your brand. We won’t comment further on this, but keep this in mind.
• Perhaps one of the biggest brand establishers or busters is the person answering your phone or greeting a visitor to your office. Super important. For many, this is the first point of contact and first impressions are very important.
• Wrong spelling, especially a client’s name, is fatal. Bad imaging. Never let this occur.
• We take pains to dress well, but what about your briefcase or shined shoes or your beat-up old umbrella? These details are visual reflections of your brand.
We could go on and on with this and then establish a brand of being longwinded. The main point is the importance of working on your brand.