In the last few months I’ve read countless blogs about CPA firms establishing and living a brand, but the topic has picked up steam this week as a fellow competitor fights to end its own brand identity crisis. It’s a challenge all firms are willing to embrace, as the benefits are often unspoken for, yet the downside may be impactful tenfold.

Where does it start? Whose responsibility is it? And what does it really mean?

The common third party conception about accounting firms is we all do the same thing. So what is left to differentiate yourself from the others? Cool colors? We certainly think so, but that’s a biased opinion. A flashy logo? As flashy as you can imagine for accountants, but it more often than not involves employing trendy marketing agencies. What about the short, quick, catchy moniker that says who you are? “Have you heard what’s going on at the Q lately?”

There are basic needs:

Social network marketability – Is it Twitter-worthy? How cool is your handle? “Hashtag-ability”? And does it intrigue the eye enough to invite a click? After all, we live in an age of continuous quantification of clicks.

Campus recruiting – The young folks, the “millennial,” prefer quick off the tip of your tongue. Q may be too quick, and perhaps too frequently used by basketball’s Cavaliers, but our three letters have grown leaps and bounds.

Backbone – Are you the living and breathing representation of what you want? What you hoped for? “They are who we thought they were.” I apologize for a second sports reference. A combination of character and reputation.

Give it a pulse – Once established, it requires buy-in…training, education, expectations, commitment, longevity…and oh yeah, FUN!

Didn’t Lou Holtz say, “if you’re not all rowing in the same direction, someone needs tossed in the water”? Said a better way, it’s either a consistent swagger across all levels of the firm or start hoping for a few accounting majors on the varsity swim team.


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