Branding your accounting firm to evoke the proper feeling is of upmost importance. Your whole practice is going to be focused on gaining and keeping the trust of your clients. A bad visual brand for a CPA is similar to you walking into a dentist office with cockroaches running around. Your trust would drop and you would be backing out slowly. You do not want that for your clients, so let's focus on tightening up your brand (not just your logo) and clearly communicating who your brand is to your clients.
Get Feedback From Your Clients
There is a difference between your actual strengths and your perceived strengths. These need to line up. Start by figuring out how you are perceived and if you want to keep those perceptions or not. Ask your customers why they are coming to you? Ask what they believe are your strengths? Compare that to what you have internalized as your strengths. When you pay attention to what your clients are saying, you will find out what they need makes yourself more attractive. You do this by focusing more on your clients’ needs than your firm's benefits. The more you communicate with them to understand their experience the better it will go. Poor communication is the primary predictor of abandoning a financial adviser, according to Dekker Fraser, Marketing Director at Ironclad Games*.
Decide How You Want To Be Seen
There are two routes which you can present yourself: an easy experience or a tried and true approach. Obviously, there are more sub-descriptors you will use. View 3 examples of responsive financial website's that have figured out their brand. For this blog, let’s focus on the two main avenues.
From a client perspective, the easy experience is the one who is going to make this very simple for them because it’s understandable and doesn't require much of their effort. They’re going to know the overview, the process up front, and how long this should take. For these people you will use bright colors like bright blues and greens san-serif fonts and lots of empty space. Use icons to illustrate the process so they can understand and it seems simple enough they can wrap their head around it, but complicated enough to be glad they are taking care of it for them. You’re communicating that this will be simple and you won’t take up much of their life or space. An example of Easy Experience is Turbo Tax.
Tried and True
From a client perspective, the tried and true approach is the one who’s been doing this for 50 years. You may forget your wedding anniversary but you could tell you what Tax Code 317B is while watching Wheel of Fortune. Clients see you as respected and almost like a father figure because they can give it all to you and you will take care of them. You will want to use warm earth tones like dark greens and browns and serif-based fonts. You can use simple textured backgrounds and photos of things like leather-bound books. It may sound cliched but there is a reason it works. You are communicating the personal approach of something is wrong or you have questions, you have more questions, come back and we can sit down and talk about it.
Quick Tips for all CPA’s
Regardless of which route you take, there are a few principles that will work industry wide. Stay away from bright reds. No one likes to see bold red when they are considering their money. Not only does it look like they are out of money, but you are subconsciously telling them to STOP. Secondly, use well-lit crisp photos. Again, you’re communicating trust through ideas like clean, open-air spaces and practices. Thirdly, add in nice photos of the staff. People are trusting their money to a person not a machine and they will trust a face better than a name. Read more tips for branding your CPA firm in our blog: Branding - 3 Quick Tips.
Make Your Accounting Firm Standout
Have you been in the area for 30 years? Do you give bi-monthly updates? What are your core values that you run your business by? The easier you can communicate your differences, the more likely your clients can grab a hold of this and transfer it.
Quick Tip: Don’t over sell your products. A client will typically find the cheapest one to get things done. Instead, show them the experience of the service they are signing on with.
Put It Into Practice
It sounds simple, but some practices forget to integrate their new brand into every aspect of their business. Use your new brand in your website, letterhead, brochures, fliers, posters, email signature, Facebook page, the sign on your building and everything else you use.
Be a client-centered practice. Start by finding out where you are at with your clients, find out who you want to be known as (an easy experience or tried and true experience), find out what makes you different, implement those changes, then use it accross the board with everything.
Your branding evokes an emotion that creates a split second decision in your potential client. Learn how your customer's think and what you can do about it in our Free Ebook!