Your brand is what other people say about you when you are not in the room.

In professional services a lot of marketing effort goes into developing a firm's brand. Sometimes this effort happens without much consultation with clients or staff. And without their input, the risk is that the brand may not ring true?

When Apple's market research tells them that their customers love their design, they can confidently go to market with a brand centred on great design. But if, say in professional services, a firm goes to market promoting how great they are to work with, this message will only work if it's true.

Successful brand development is not about deciding how we'd like to describe our brand to others. Instead, it's about identifying how others describe us already. What's the story they tell about us? If there are qualities our clients genuinely love about us then those qualities become the story of our brand.

01 Client listening

The first step is to establish a process to gain regular client feedback. From the responses you can identify what our brand strengths are.

02 Client communication

The next step is to communicate these brand insights back to clients. It's one thing for a client to believe that you are 'responsive' but if the client hears that all clients have selected 'responsiveness' as a particular strength of the firm then the message really sinks in. Also social proof of your brand strengths lowers the risk for any client to make a referral to a friend. In this way it becomes part of the story clients say to others.

03 Staff communication

The next step is to also communicate these brand strengths to staff. In the day to day grind of service provision it is helpful for staff to know the core qualities of the brand that they must maintain.

04 Communicating to the market

Communicating these brand strengths to the market in general - via the website and other platforms - is in many ways the easy part. The message is simple - we check in with our clients regularly and they tell us that they love us because...if they are the qualities you are looking for in a firm then get in touch.