Brand Research for Professional Services: What Every Executive Needs to Know to Grow Their Brand

By Lee Frederiksen

Professional services firms are always looking for new ways to gain a competitive advantage—but that doesn’t always lead them to offer something new. All too often in the professional services field, you see lots of competition with very little differentiation. Firms claiming distinction, but able to demonstrate very little difference.

In fact, most firms rely on “me too” differentiators, so they all sound pretty much the same. You’ve probably heard any number of firms discuss their “great people”, “exceptional service“ and how they are “trusted advisors.” Maybe you’ve used the same lines — and maybe those claims are true. But they’re so vague, and they’ve been repeated so often, that they’ve lost their power.

How can you avoid the trap of identical messaging and stand out from the competition? The answer lies in brand research. Let’s explore some of the most common questions about brand research and how it can help firms get ahead.

What is Brand Research?

To answer this question, we first have to nail down a definition for “brand.” In short, your brand is the product of your reputation and your visibility. If you have a great reputation for specific expertise and high visibility within your target audience you have a strong brand. Your brand is how people in your industry understand your firm — the projection of your expertise and experience into the marketplace.

Brand research is a process of formal data collection and empirical analysis that explores both your reputation and your visibility to help you better understand the marketplace and your firm’s role in it. Brand research can also help you understand the characteristics that truly set you apart from the competition in the eyes of your prospective clients.

What is the Impact of Brand Research?

Studies show that firms that conduct brand research grow faster and are more profitable than firms that do not.

Figure 1 shows that even occasional research has an impact. More frequent research produces a bigger impact.

Why? Research gives firms an evidence-based foundation on which to build a solid strategy — including data-driven brand positioning and messaging.

Often, major decisions about a firm’s messaging and business direction are based on guesswork or assumptions. “This is probably a message our audience will respond to.” “I think this is a service our clients would appreciate.”

By conducting research, you know that you are on the right track — and that certainty can save you a lot of pain and effort down the line. Brand research can give you solid answers to questions you were guessing at before: for instance, the differentiators that matter most to your clients or the services they would most like to see you offer.

There is another major benefit that many firms overlook. If all your leadership isn’t in complete agreement about the direction your firm should take, research can provide objective guidance and help get everyone in alignment. When facts replace opinion, it’s easier to gain consensus.

When Should You Use Brand Research?

There are a number of junctures at which a firm would be well Go to the full article.

Source:: Business 2 Community

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