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Change of name/image - client reaction

I asked a question before on behalf of a friend who was going through some major changes with partners leaving and new ones joining. He was pleased with the advice received so I thought I'd float another issue he's been chatting to me about.

The new partners in the practice are keen to push the business forward with new specialisms and seem more dynamic than the leavers. He is talking excitedly about doubling the fees in a few years and maybe even moving offices. But he is torn about rebranding the practice. One of the new partners is very keen on a completely new name, logo and corporate image, selling it to clients as a new bright start with improved service (my friend admits things have got a bit stale recently). The others do not want to upset the applecart at what will be a time of some change anyway - they prefer to keep things much as they are in case existing clients see the changes as an excuse to bail out.

I'm wondering if members have any experience of a major rebranding and how the clients reacted. I should confess my advice is to go for it and let clients new and old see that there is a new and better approach to their affairs. I believe it is the people who really matter but he is very nervous of indicating any major change.

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We rebranded a few years ago
We kept the same services, but moved to a shopfront, and took the opportunity to rebrand.

We didn't lose any existing clients, but I think it helped us gain new ones. I wouldn't say we did a 'major' rebrand but it's your people, your services, and your reputation, that keeps clients happy and coming back year after year ... it isn't the name or the branding.

Branding and marketing may help you get clients .. they don't help you to keep them!

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I think a phased approach would work best
A complete overhaul - new name, logo and image - might be too much too soon.

Changing the design o the existing logo etc would be the first step, and introduce clients to a process f change, but keep the name the same.

Then in say 1 or 2 years, when they have accepted the new logo and image, they will associate that with you and you can then change the name and keep the logo you created.

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I got a very positive reaction last year ...

when I changed the name / logo etc. It seemed to galvanise existing clients in to thinking about what I do and (more importantly) could do for them going forwards. There has also been a fourfold increase in referalls this year over the previous one. OK, I am only a sole practitioner and at the end of the day the clients know it is just me indulging myself rather than a more sinister change in ownership but in principal I think it can be a positive exercise to go through.

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It comes down to communication

Some years ago I ran the tax support operation at WJB Chiltern when the idea came up to rebrand as Chiltern PLC.  Some colleagues expressed a concern that clients (largely firms of accountants) would be confused and we might lose work.

I was doubtful this would transpire. I suggested a communication process to limit the prospect of any confusion.

It was when we started advertising the tax support service in Taxation magazine and in Accountancy Age I think. I suggested that we then keep the same advert layout and format after the name change.  

As regards clients I was of the view that they were not concerned about our name etc. What they wanted was peace of mind that the services they received would be unchanged. 

So my advice would be to ensure that you keep your eye on the ball. If clients feel that service is sacrificed to facilitate the rebranding it could work against you. But if you maintain service standards throughout the process, all should be well.

Mark 

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