The other week I was talking to an accountancy firm about their website and marketing plans, and in the course of our conversation one of the partners said, “Our business has kind of a split personality”.
I agreed with him, since they have two separate websites (with two business names) and a blog which is held on another website altogether, and we’re working on what they want to focus on and how to bring that under one clear name.
The split personality brand issue is one that is not unique to accountants – but if it applies to you, here are a few tips.
(Bear in mind that when I speak of your ‘brand’, I’m not just talking about your logo. It’s the whole picture, the sense of who you are as a firm or a person.)
- Simplicity is the key. If you’re an accountant, make sure your brand makes that clear. If you’re primarily a bookkeeper or Finance Director, consider changing your marketing focus to show that.
- Decide who you want to be, not who you are now. Branding and marketing decisions can be best made with the future in view. Do you want to be a firm who only ever does strategic financial consulting? If so, change all your marketing to say that’s all you do, and lo and behold you will find that you get more of those types of clients.
- Use one domain, not multiple websites. If you have more than one site, more than one brand or logo, anything that does not point to your main URL, the possibility increases that your visitors or prospects will become very confused and give up entirely. Everything should go under one banner. It’s fine to have different names or brands for certain elements of your business – products or services or seminars, for example – but make them a landing page on your main website. Use one domain (ie www.theprofitablefirm.com) and make every page a sub-page of that domain. The benefit of this is that every visitor who comes to anything of yours is going to one domain, which helps Google to rank you higher.
- Keep it short and sweet. Extremely long business names confuse. Your best bet is to have your simple business name and a tagline. Many accountants include “Chartered Accountants” or “Certified Public Accountants” as part of their logo. It’s still possible to include this and to have a tagline, if it’s done well. But make sure you’re considering what image and impression you want to give, and get advice from the branding experts accordingly.
- Words matter. As I was telling this particular client, the word “corporation” brings to mind a huge organisation with multiple teams and management levels and offices in the city centre with glass windows. Naturally we all have different associations with different words, but there are some generalities you can make. Words like ‘consulting’, ‘growth’, and ‘development’ are often perceived as vague. Which is fine if you want to be vague. But if you want to proclaim that you help wealthy business owners determine if they’re ready to retire, incorporate some of those words instead.
- Colours matter. Another difficult one for accountants is the issue of colour. First, because accountants are often less likely to be on the visual and creative side. Secondly, because almost every accountant in the world seems to use the colour blue. But is that a bad thing? Of course not! Blue is seen as a safe, dependable, professional colour. That’s why many accountants use it – and you’re not wrong to do so. What you need to make sure you do is use colours that fit with who you actually are (or who you want to be, as we mentioned earlier). Green for growth. Yellow for cheer and friendliness. Pink for creativity and thinking differently. Red to be bold and direct. (There’s a great graph on the psychology of colour here.)
- Ask someone who doesn’t know you. When it comes to making business and brand changes, it’s an excellent idea to get input from someone who’s never heard of you before. They don’t have any preconceptions about you, your business, or your services. So if you show them your proposed logo and they say “Cool! I love that colour pink, it’s so feminine!”, and you think, “But I wanted bright and modern, not necessarily feminine”, then you might need to go back to the drawing board. One firm we work with had a prospect come onto the live chat on their website and say, “So are you guys accountants? I couldn’t tell.” Our client was thrilled with that. You might not have been – but each to their own. Another client mentioned to me that their prospects always said, “It’s clear from your website that you work more with businesses, rather than just doing personal tax returns.” Again they were thrilled because that’s one of the impressions we built the site to give.
- It’s okay to change things later. When it comes to your accounting business and your brand, you can try things out. Pick a tagline, and use it for a while. See what your clients think, and those who have never heard of you before. Did they notice? Like it? Were they more interested to work with you? I appreciate that when it comes to a logo, there are a lot more costs involved – signage, business cards, letterhead, website domains. But feel free to make small changes that don’t conflict with your entire business message, until you’re comfortable enough with it to paint it on the side of your offices.