When you get a logo designed, you are ready and waiting for it to AMAZE you. You’ve done the brand strategy work…if you’re working with PF you’ve gone through Accelerator and learned about brand and values and audience and messaging…you are excited and it’s going to be the best ever!!
…but what happens if it’s not?
What happens if even working with PF (who you love and appreciate and feel understand accountants and branding) you’re still not wowed by the logo concept you see?
We worked with an accountant recently who needed a refresh of his logo. (We’re starting to realise a logo refresh is really the same as a rebrand, but more of that in another post!) When he saw the logo, his feedback was although he really liked it, he wasn’t feeling that wow factor. For him it felt really concerning, but for us it’s not surprising. We don’t expect you to be blown away by a logo. Why?
Because you don’t get wowed by a logo, you get wowed by a brand.
Even when it comes to a brand, the wow factor doesn’t always happen straight away. It’s something that builds as you grow to understand, and love the brand.
When you saw Apple’s logo for the first time, were you wowed? Do you even remember it? Or was it just a vague sense in your mind somewhere about who Apple are?
For those of you who order Apple products, when you receive your first order, it comes wrapped up in tissue paper, in a sleek white box with branded stickers and the beautiful product tucked perfectly into it’s casing. You unwrap it and peel away the protective cover and that’s when the wow feeling starts.
You think you NEED the wow factor. In fact, you expect it. That feeling is based on other people’s experiences and a misunderstanding of how a brand is supposed to work. You’re wanting a quick solution to your brand, a ready fix to your marketing issues.
You’re thinking “If I have a wow factor logo or a really cool brand, I’ll get a tonne of clients”. That’s not how marketing works. Your leads are swayed by your visual brand (absolutely!) but they are also looking at your words, your key messaging, how you can help them, your plan, reviews from other clients, and you – how approachable you are, if your values are similar to theirs, and if they see you being a personality match.
And all of this takes time to build.
Branding is hard and it takes time
Branding is exciting but it’s also complicated, emotional and hard. It’s deeply intertwined with who you are as a person and as a firm. It’s a visual representation of your ‘why’, your values, and your character. And that’s why it’s hard. Because every decision you make about your brand is a reflection of you.
When you start the process of branding, you might think it will be easy. Or at least fun! You know who you are as a firm, what your values are, why you’re in business. But along the way you’re likely to experience some bumps in the road. You might wonder if you’ll ever reach your dream brand. Branding is a creative process and it involves challenges.
A big part of branding is consistency. Show the same logo, brand colours and visuals on every platform – your website, your social platforms, your print material – but don’t forget about your words. Use the same key messages, and write and speak in the same style and tone of voice (this is especially important if you have a team). Consistency with your brand suggests you’ll be consistent when it comes to the actual work you do for your clients. It helps your prospects and clients to build trust in you and your firm.
A brand is built over time. People may see a new brand and like what they see. But until they’ve come to see the brand in all its glory, they won’t necessarily feel wowed. Let’s look at the buyer journey for a second.
Think about a time you’ve gotten a recommendation from a friend for a restaurant. You haven’t just jumped in your car and driven straight there. You’ve looked up their website and read about who they are, what their style is. You’ve clicked on their social media platforms and looked at some images of the restaurant and the food and you’ve read at least 3 reviews (probably more if they have bad reviews). You’ve even looked at their menu and chosen your meal, haven’t you?
The same can be said for your marketing. People don’t just see an accountant’s Facebook profile they like and sign up. They have a look at the other social platforms, they visit the website, they look at the testimonials, they read a few blogs, they watch your videos. Even at this stage, they are unlikely to become a client. They will follow you on social media, sign up for your monthly newsletter and may even attend an event and meet you in person before they become a client. This process could take anywhere from 1 month to 2 years or longer.
Your brand is so much more than your logo
Let’s talk about Harry Potter for a minute. We all love a great story, but what JK Rowling created isn’t just a story. It’s a brand.
When you hear those first 8 notes of the intro song to any Harry Potter movie (you’re humming it in your head right now aren’t you?), what do you think of? What do you feel?
You feel magic, adventure, and mystery. And you think of Hogwarts castle, magical wands and spells, quidditch matches, floating candles and the sorting hat.
Over time, we’ve developed a connection between those 8 notes and the story behind them. Without the story of Harry Potter, those 8 notes are meaningless. Now think of those 8 notes as your logo. Without your brand story, your logo is meaningless too.
Your clients or prospects also develop a connection with your brand. They see your logo, your website, your branded t-shirt and cap, the signage at your office, your branded welcome pack, and they remember who you are. They hear your story and learn who you are as a firm, and they start to build a relationship. They create their own link to your brand.
According to Wikipedia, “a logo is a graphic mark, emblem, or symbol used to aid and promote public identification and recognition. It may be of an abstract or figurative design or include the text of the name it represents as in a wordmark.” Essentially, a logo by itself is just an image or wordmark. Yes, you can tell if it’s a good or bad image but what makes that image wow worthy? The brand behind the image.
When you create a brand for your firm, you aren’t just getting a logo created. You are creating a story. You are creating your identity. And your identity is so much more than just your logo.
Your brand identity is who you are
Your brand is made up of the intangibles, the emotions, how people feel about you. Your branding identity is the ‘persona’ of your business.
One of the questions we ask in the brand session of our Foundations Workshops is ‘if your brand was a person, what would they look like, sound like, act like?” Would they be wearing a suit or a hoodie and backwards cap? Would they be drinking instant coffee or Starbucks? Would they be using the latest tech or writing on a notepad? What words would they say (or not say)?
When you have a defined brand identity, it’s easy to be able to write it down, to document it.
Your brand identity helps you:
- Decide which clients you want and (more importantly) don’t want to work with
- Identify the issue and pain points your clients and ideal prospects have
- Make sure you are consistent when it comes to your marketing
- Give clear instructions to any marketing teams (like designers and content writers) who you get to help with your marketing
- Improve your overall brand image which helps to build trust
Like a logo, a company name by itself means nothing.
Without a brand story, your company name doesn’t mean anything.
Here’s a perfect example. The word ‘Google’ doesn’t mean anything but according to David Koller and businessinsider.com “The name “Google” actually came from a graduate student at Stanford named Sean Anderson. Anderson suggested the word “googolplex” during a brainstorming session, and Page countered with the shorter “googol.” Googol is the digit 1 followed by 100 zeroes, while googolplex is 1 followed by a googol zeros.
Anderson checked to see if the domain name was taken, but accidentally searched for “google.com” instead of “googol.com.” Page liked that name even better, and registered the domain name for Brin and himself on September 15, 1997.”
When people ask them about the name, Google, they have a story to tell. The same needs to be true for any business. Think about your firm name. What stories can you tell?
Those stories will also change as you grow, as your brand evolves.
Your brand needs to change as you grow
Your logo is not meant to be the same forever. It needs to evolve as you change, as you grow. Some of our favourite brands have changed multiple times over the years.
Take a look at the subtle changes Apple has gone through. Many people think the more complicated a logo is, the better the brand. As you can see below, Apple has actually simplified their logo over the years but has kept the core concept people have grown to love and remember.
Google is an interesting one. They’ve kept the same colours and the same 6 letters over the years but have made changes to the font type. But those subtle changes aren’t what makes Google great, it’s their brand that does that.
In 2015, they created what we know as the Google today. It’s become such a well known brand, the name has even become a verb – “Google it”.
Some reasons for rebranding could be:
1. Your ideal audience has changed – Perhaps you’ve realised you like working with family businesses so you decide to niche in that area.
2. You’ve hired a team – It’s not only you anymore. When you started, your mission, vision and values were based around you and your goals. You need to incorporate your team into those things too.
3. You’ve changed your service offering – Based on what your ideal audience are struggling with, you’ve introduced a new service or a different way of providing your services.
4. Your business model has shifted or is shifting – your WAY of doing business has changed. This could involve your cornerstone, your process or “way”, the kind of firm you have. Maybe you used to do accounts and bookkeeping for startups, and now you provide virtual finance support for £1m+ businesses. The whole model has shifted with your audience and focus.
We know it feels like a big investment to rebrand. It’s time, money and energy you wonder whether it’s worth spending. But a rebrand is like building the foundation of a house. You won’t have a strong building if you haven’t built the structure properly.
You can rebrand in one go and change everything about your brand or marketing when the time comes or you can slowly integrate the new brand over time. Either option is fine.
Your brand is not for you
Even if you look past the logo to the full brand and you still aren’t wowed yet, that’s okay. Because your brand is not for you. It exists for the people and businesses you serve. And it will take YOU time to appreciate and fall in love with it, too.
??As Donald Miller says in ‘Building a Story Brand’: your client is the hero. You’re the guide. Make your brand about them.
Yes, it’s important to like your brand and be proud of it, but that feeling might not reach the wow factor straight away. You’re also going to be tempted to turn to your family and closest friends for their input but actually this could hold you back from the wow factor which is coming,. Unless they’re your ideal audience, they may slow down the whole process, because they don’t want you to change. They love you the way you are, and that’s beautiful. But that’s not who your firm is. It’s not who you’re becoming. And it’s not who your brand is for. Your brand is only for the people you want it to attract. Because your business is for them. Your services are for them. You exist to help them: and your brand exists to show them who you are and how you do that.
Your clients may not be wowed by your logo, either. Not at first. Because they don’t know anything about you in the beginning. They slowly build trust as they get to know you and your firm.
In the progression model below, you’ll see your prospects start getting to know your brand in the Awareness stage. They start following you on social media, reading your blogs, watching your videos and building a connection with you. As they build trust and grow to love your brand, they invest more in the relationship with you.
The wow factor grows over time
If you’re looking for wow factor from the logo alone, you’re missing the opportunity to grow with your brand, and the depth of what branding truly is.
The good news is, the wow factor does come! You will absolutely love your logo as it fits within the whole brand: what we’re saying is, it takes time.
When our clients go through a new brand project with us, they often only really get excited when they see the logo “in situ”. A mockup of how the logo looks in their reception room. A team member wearing their new brand t-shirt. A branded coffee mug or a piece of wall art. This is because you’re seeing more than simply a logo, you’re seeing how it is lived out.
Your brand is an empty vessel. It’s not just a name and a logo. It’s all your marketing pieces working together to create a brand. Think about the National Geographic logo.
It’s really just a yellow rectangle around a black box. But how do they use the logo? The yellow rectangle is a clever nod to the shape and colour of the magazine. But when you think of National Geographic, you don’t think of the rectangle, you think of beautiful images, captivating stories and interesting facts. You think of their story. You see a camera lens, a printed photograph, a beautiful photographic print on the wall, a window to the world. There is so much in this yellow-box-vessel which you would never see if someone showed it to you on its own.
When you get help creating a logo for your accounting firm, you aren’t just choosing an image or an icon or “a nice design”. You’re creating a vessel you will put meaning into. You’ll fill that vessel with your people, your clients, your personality, all the words you use and the stories you tell.
And you will add to it over time, with stories, emotions, and new team members. That’s when the wow factor comes in. That’s when people see your brand and are impressed, or come across a post on social and smile, or step into your offices and feel inspired, or sit down for a meeting with you and feel relaxed and hopeful. The very feelings they have reflect your brand: and that goes far beyond simply a logo.
If you want to learn and understand more about your brand, join the 12 week Accelerator coaching course where we’ll help you uncover who you truly are as a brand and who you want to serve.