Your brand is one of your firm’s biggest assets. And by brand, I don’t just mean your logo – we’re talking about the underlying style and approach of your firm, the words and phrases you use and the feeling that your clients have about you as an accountant or business adviser.
You’ve spent years crafting this brand – whether that’s through focused marketing and branding advice, or through the sheer hard work of building up a client base.
So you need to be VERY careful if you decide to rebrand the firm!
Your brand is your baby, and you need to be just as gentle with it as you would your firstborn (resist the urge to stick comedy moustaches on the infant etc.).
Because if you DON’T get it right, you can do far more damage than good. So, how do you get your rebrand right? What are the pitfalls to avoid, and what the things you should focus on to evolve the brand successfully?
Thankfully, for you, the Profitable Firm know all about rebrands, so we’re here to give you the lowdown on how to change your brand the RIGHT way.
Bob the Builder – where your rebrand can go wrong
A brand is something that’s familiar, comfortable and reassuring to your clients. And nothing is more familiar than the TV shows of our childhood, right?
So imagine our collective horror at the Profitable Firm when we found out someone had rebranded Bob the Builder! You don’t mess with the classics, and for people of a certain age, Bob represents a very particular kind of 1990s kids’ show.
Had this rebrand gone well, I hear you ask? Well…no, is the short answer. This new show may be called Bob the Builder, but it looks and feels so different that it’s pretty much unrecognisable as the same show.
- The slightly clunky, 3D stop-frame animation is gone, replaced by flashy, slick CGI graphics.
- Characters are no longer little squat, toy-like people. They’ve tried to make them look human (well, apart from the diggers).
- Bob and his friends all seem to have lost about a decade and had plastic surgery or Botox.
- The quaint storylines and scenarios have been given an adrenalin boost, maxing the action (no doubt in an attempt to appeal to kids with short attention spans and long-suffering parents).
- Worst of all, Neil Morrisey’s reassuring voicing of Bob himself is nowhere to be seen (or heard).
In short, it’s terrible! And it’s a brilliant example of how to get a reboot completely wrong
How did rebuilding Bob go wrong?
By trying to rebuild Bob into something new, the producers made the mistake of throwing away all the things the show was good at. And that’s the classic error to make when you’re updating a successful formula.
- Bob the Builder Ver 1.0 was basic, but that was very much part of its charm.
- It was child-like in its simplicity, and that’s what kids liked.
- The characters looked like toys, not realistic people. So it was easy to produce merchandise that really looked like Bob.
- Bob was clearly a grown-up builder and had a grown-ups voice. Now he sounds as if he may have just gone through puberty…oh Neil, where are you?
So the Bob we’ve ended up with is too loud, too slick and ultimately…well, just not Bob anymore.
Know your own strengths
Can you get a rebrand right? Sure you can! The key lies in two very clear pieces of knowledge:
- Know what you’re good at (you may need a brand expert to pin this down)
- Know what people like about you (talk to your clients!).
If you’ve got the lowdown on these two things, you’re set to rebrand your firm in a way that’s sensitive to the needs of your clients and plays to your own strengths.
And is there a way to escape the ‘Botch the Builder problem’? Yep, and what better way to explain than by talking about another kids’ show of yesteryear that’s popped back up on our tellybox screens.
Dangermouse – where your rebrand can go right!
Dangermouse was a huge hit back in the day – with the combined talents of Cosgrove Hall animators and David ‘Don’t call me Del Boy’ Jason as the lead voice talent, how could it not be?
There were some core things that the show did REALLY well:
- It was intrinsically British and self-effacing in its style and humour.
- It had jokes – LOTS of jokes (some of them aimed squarely at the parents not the kids…animators like to make themselves laugh too).
- Visually, it was a simple comic book-style cartoon. DM (as his superior called him) was definitely not styled on a real mouse. Think Jerry from Tom & Jerry over the hairy little critter in Stuart Little.
And do you know what? They’ve kept all this good stuff in the new 2015 version!
Dangermouse Ver 2.0 keeps all the things that Ver 1.0 was good at – and which young pups, like myself, loved back in the 1980s. Sure, the animation is better (and no doubt done in a computer) but it LOOKS like it was hand-drawn by someone who likes Marvel and DC Comics. It looks like what it is – a cartoon.
The characters and voicings are both the same and different at the same time. Alexander Armstrong is now DM, but he steps manfully into David Jason’s (slightly smaller) shoes.
And the narrator is undisputed ‘King of Sarcasm’ and Come Dine With Me voiceover maestro, Dave Lamb – need I say more.
So, the good stuff is all there. But it’s been added to and evolved into something that’s new, but still rooted in the original.
And that’s the answer, really. It’s about evolution, not revolution when you’re rebranding.
Be more mouse!
So, if you’re thinking of taking the bull by the horns and getting a new brand for your firm, we have a very clear maxim you should apply.
“Be more mouse! Be less Bob!”
(unless your real name is Bob, in which case carry on being the Bobster!)
Follow this advice and you can’t go far wrong:
- Find out what you’re really good at: This can be the tricky bit and something we can help you with. Our content marketing strategy and plan can help you there.
- Find out what your clients truly like about you and the firm: This is a huge part of your branding, and it’s more about what they like than what you think you are.
- Keep all those good things: No really, keep them! Don’t get rid of the best of yourself and your firm.
- Add new things that are sympathetic to your roots.
- Evolve the firm, but keep it familiar to your happy clients.
Get a proper branding identity for your firm.
Finally, the most important advice we can give accountants is to get a proper branding identity.
We are continually surprised by how few accountants actually have a branding identity.
- A strategy session (or multiple sessions)
- A review of:
- Who you are
- Who your clients are
- Who your ideal clients are (often not the same)
- What you sell
- Why you sell it
- Why you exist
- What you care about
- What you are most passionate about
- What you stand for
- Why it matters
- A document that summarises these things and also identifies the ‘brand’ elements that reflect all of them, such as:
- Your logo
- How your logo is used
- Fonts to use (and not use)
- Colours that reflect your firm
- Imagery to use (and stay away from)
- Style and tone of voice
You really, really need one – and I’ll just give you the heads up now that they aren’t cheap. Prepare for several thousand (well spent) pounds – because this will be the root of everything you do when it comes to marketing.
It’s important to add that this is so important that at the Profitable Firm we are honest about the fact that we are not primarily brand experts. We know a good bit about it, and we’re constantly learning more, but if you want a proper branding identity developed, we’ll involve a trusted branding agency to help. We’re telling you this so that you can see this is not a sales pitch (we hate those and don’t do them, anyway). It’s serious, and you need to get it right.
If you’re thinking of rebranding your firm and want to be more mouse, start with our online marketing diagnostic.