Building a differentiated professional services brand

9th January 2020

As most of us know, it’s hard enough to distinguish a business from competitors when marketing a tangible product. But professional service firms face the uniquely complex challenge of selling the intangible – a simple promise to produce a specific future outcome. Something that can’t be seen, tested or experienced by audiences. This means service brands need to work even harder to earn trust by demonstrating not only their level of professionalism but also why they’re different from rest. 

At face value, most professional services firms are almost indistinguishable from one another. With so many offering the same services in the same markets with the same outputs, it’s all too easy to get lost in the crowd. But despite this, many services brands still opt to blend in rather than stand out by falling back on safe ideas and tired claims. When everyone declares that they are “client focused” or that they “strive for excellence”, how can your potential clients know that they should be choosing you over your competition?

The best defence for this is to build a strong brand that signals how and why your firm is different from the rest in a way that is both important and meaningful to audiences. Winning service brands know they must go deeper than a quirky logo, a clever name or great website visuals to truly differentiate themselves. By peeling back the layers of your brand and determining your core beliefs, you’ll be able to find your unique positioning and establish an offer that is both distinctive and relevant to your audiences.

But finding a brand position in a field as crowded and competitive as professional services isn’t easy and professional help is strongly advised. As a brand communications agency specialising in the professional services sphere, we’ve helped a number of service clients uncover their key differentiators, from financial giants Positive Solutions and True Potential to boutique recruitment specialists Zenith. Through workshops and collaboration, we adopt a strategic approach to unlock the components of a brand’s characteristics and establish a clear identity and positioning model. 

As part of the discovery process, we then apply creativity to bring this new-found identity to life through engaging communications, advertising and design across every touchpoint. This ensures that the differentiators are reinforced each time a client – new or existing – connects with the firm.

But it’s important to remember that differentiation is an ever-moving process. What set you apart yesterday isn’t necessarily going to put you in good stead for tomorrow. Your clients will change, your competitors will change and, as in virtually every industry, trends will change. But with the right approach and the right partner, you can develop a powerful brand that differentiates your firm and appeals to your audiences in both the short and long run.