Time to Rethink Brands … especially in Professional Services

July 10, 2014

Deloitte are one of the more enlightened professional service firms. From their thought leadership to green dots, they are a bit of fresh air to their sector. Of course the big challenge in every professional service firm – accountants, lawyers, consultants – is that their highly intelligent, highly paid partners think they know best, and usually better than clients. Maybe on specialist issues, yes, but necessarily about what they really want, aspire to, and prefer. Getting customer-centric thinking is not easy, even if they tell their clients how to do it!

So we’re talking about brands. Thousands of years ago, brands (at that time, more likely a branding of cattle) signified ownership, and so was about the owner. But power has shifted, supply exceeds demand, and customers are discerning. Brands are no longer about business and products – how good we are, how old we are, what great products we make. Brands are about people – and in particular their aspirations. Talk about me, and I will listen. Talk about yourself, and go home. You get the idea.

This is incredibly important for professional services, where the product is intangible, and the perceived value is high (or at least the fee is!). Accounting, legal and consulting brands need to be about their client’s aspirations, and how by addressing their challenges more effectively, they can realise their potential – improved effectiveness, better returns on investment, accelerating growth. Propositions are then crucial to make brands relevant and substantial – not by service, but by the issue clients are grappling with. Deloitte has come along way with its green dot, and leads its field. The opportunity is to go further with new propositions, innovative solutions and business models.

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