I have been involved in numerous professional services branding evolution or re-branding projects. When operating as Head of Marketing in a FTSE company we went from a decentralised holding company of about 100 brands to a more centralised entity sharing a common brand identity. The change was challenging, not from a marketing or communications perspective – but from an operational, structural and cultural one.
The thing is brands in professional services businesses are very closely linked to the people and the operating culture of a business.
Delivering a shiny new contemporary 'brand identity' is relatively easily achieved. The problem comes when the discussion moves across to the values and culture and operating systems that support that brand to give it meaning.
In professional services the perception of an organisation is typically driven by the numerous interactions employees within the business have with customers, suppliers and other interested parties.
Branding projects in all sectors need to consider the impression given by interaction with the outside world – but this is especially the case in services where the vast majority of the organisation are in daily contact with those who will determine the perception of the brand.
Here professional services branding is a relatively operational issue taking into account things like – on-line perception, tone of voice in e-mails, telephone answering, physical reception at buildings through to recruitment and personal objective setting.
This is even more the case where there is merger, where two or more operational cultures come together. To assume they will coalesce as a result of a shiny new logo is unrealistic.