Life Health > Running Your Business

Branding your practice

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Credibility through identification.

Among the world’s most recognizable corporate icons, perhaps none is more beloved than Apple’s apple. Without employing a single letter of any alphabet, consumers in a hundred countries know that beloved apple silhouette as a symbol of user-friendly, intuitive and widely popular media tools.

Question: Have you ever considered what your corporate logo or masthead evokes in prospects who see it?

Several years ago, I decided that our brand needed re-focusing, and perhaps a new logo to more accurately reflect our changed mission. We hired a top ad agency and they asked my team to individually answer each of the following questions—and a dozen others—so that they could get a true sense of us, of who we aspired to be in the profession, based upon who we most identified with in each category:

  • If your brand were a former U.S. President, who would you be? Jimmy Carter? Ronald Reagan? Abraham Lincoln?
  • If your brand were a popular Hollywood actor, to whom would you measure up? Meryl Streep? Will Ferrell? Jimmy Stewart?
  • If your brand were an automobile, with which make would you want to be compared? BMW? Maserati or Ferrari? The DeLorean? 

For most of us, each of those people or brands evokes positive and/or negative associations, and everything with which we identify personally says something about us: Are you long-term quality conscious or just the latest shiny object or trend? Are you like The Ultimate Driving Machine® or a now-bankrupt automaker of “Flux Capacitor” fame from a 1980s movie trilogy? Are you the embodiment of integrity and family values a la Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life—or is your practice an ego-centric, disorganized mess like one of Will Ferrell’s bad-mannered characters?

For my team, completing that questionnaire was an incredibly cathartic exercise, as it helped to define and focus us on our “Who” even as our Mission Statement had defined our “What/How.” In the end, we chose a logo, a font, colors and texture—all based on the answers to those questions—and everybody was thrilled with the result. More importantly, we had become the very brand we aspired to be while collaborating on the project.   

Who are you within this profession? Does your Brand Identity portray those qualities as part of your first impression, or is your brand neutral, blasé or undefined? A good brand should be strong, clear, simple, inviting, identifiable within your community, and reflective of your values and strengths as a firm. Like Apple’s apple, your logo is the visual icon with which the public will associate all of your positive traits for years to come. It’s definitely worth creating carefully as a team.

Next month: Choosing Your Specialty

Your company logo must reflect your values to prospects.

Thomas K. Brueckner is president and CEO of Senior Financial Resources, Inc. in Nashua, N.H., and Strategic Asset Conservation, Inc. in Scottsdale, Ariz. He is a Senior Market Advisor 2011 Advisor of the Year Finalist.