This article began as a rant.
It started in a conference room papered with top professional service firm website pages, advertisements, pitch materials, thought leadership pieces and other forms of marketing communications. We assessed what we saw, shook our heads in disbelief and uttered a few choice words. Fortunately, what happens in the conference room stays in the conference room. Or not.
It appears to us that the post-recession state of professional services branding is like living in a bland, empty room. Wherever we look, we see reduced brand activity and sameness. Once creative and compelling, professional service brands (via websites, advertising and other channels) now seem less visible. Sadly, it appears to us that both the quality and quantity of firm branding efforts are regressing.
Are past failed efforts to blame? Is the stumbling economy a disincentive to act? Or is it the pendulum swinging to business development, creating tremendous pressure on CMOs to drive revenue? Has anyone else noticed the falloff in brand awareness and memorability? Do we still believe brand is critical to creating preference?
Good questions, we thought. So, we polled CMOs and CEOs at law, accounting and consulting firms around the world for their opinions. Respondents included leaders of local, regional, national and international firms ranging from three professionals to 2,755. The average firm size was 382 professionals. Roughly half were local/regional and the others were national/international in scope.
Questions, answers and insights.
We asked 20 questions in eight brand categories. Here, we’ve summarized four of the most important findings, including the questions asked, the answers received and the topline takeaways.
1. Brand Health. We asked how important is brand to the success of your firm, how helpful is your brand in achieving that success and is your brand understood by key audiences?
• 95% of CMOs and 92% of CEOs/managing partners believe their brand is moderately or extremely important to success
• But only 26% find their brand “very helpful”
• On understanding, only 21% replied that their brands were well or perfectly understood by prospects.