Logos, color schemes, web layouts. As small businesses, we spend a lot of money on efforts to create the ultimate brand — a brand that defines the business, conveys credibility and sets us apart from competitors. However, if you are a service provider, I am going to say something that is going to make the eyes of every branding guru on the entire Internet collectively roll back in their respective heads. You may be wasting your money.
See, for many service providers, the “branding” that matters is in the “Rs”: results, reputation and referrals. When my merchant banking firm was primarily focused on investment banking services, you know what got us business? It wasn’t our name, our logo, our business cards, our colors or even our website. In fact, I changed the businesses’ name, logo and website several times. Those items were just collateral. What got us business was results, like selling scale manufacturer Pelstar to Newell Rubbermaid for a very attractive multiple or selling the Jerdon division of Applica for them when they had previously unsuccessfully attempted a process themselves. We also generated significant referrals from previous clients, private equity firms, lawyers and other service providers that we had worked with.