Another BrandingWire case study – Keeping the Books
The BrandingWire, is a loose network of bloggers about brands and branding – we call ourselves “a posse of pundits” – who offer entrepreneurs and others a chance to ask for help concerning their brands. They provide a branding brief and allow us to comment, suggest, question, challenge, admonish, carp and pontificate concerning their branding needs. Actually, anyone can participate by going to BrandingWire website and commenting on the posted brief.
Today’s entrepreneur plans to open a bookkeeping service for e-retailers. His brief can be read in full at BrandingWire. My comments are listed here as well as on the BrandingWire site.
How is your business different from your competitors?
Like many – or should I say most – entrepreneurs, our bookkeeper friend has jumped the gun. He immediately wants a name, logo and tagline but has given no thought to how he will differentiate his business from his competition.
Ask yourself, is the market real?
I see no indication that our friend has determined whether there’s a real market for this type of service. He has not specified the geography of his business, but I assume he’s offering this service over the Internet to e-retailers no matter their location within the U.S.. Alternatively, he may be attempting to establish relationships with e-retailers he can service face-to-face locally.
I would be surprised if even the most dedicated e-commerce retailer would look to the web for accounting/bookkeeping help. Just like legal counsel, I suspect a trusted accountant is one with whom you want a personal and local relationship. (There were no web searches for “e-commerce accounting” or “e-commerce accountant” according to Word Tracker).
But let’s assume there is a market, and it’s one that a sharp person with a “crash course” education in bookkeeping can serve.
How do you differentiate that business?
You start by finding something potential clients want that competitors aren’t providing. At least competitors aren’t promoting and making their differentiating strategy. That’s why I suggested concentrating on the one thing that worries every entrepreneur: cash flow.
If your business can establish and promote systems and procedures that enable a small business to weather the storms of poor months, if you can offer solutions and advice that will help them become more financially stable, you will certainly differentiate your service from ordinary bookkeepers. If this is beyond your area of expertise, then find another way to make your service unique and valuable while also being different from your competitors. (Use the search box in the upper right for “differentiation” to see suggestions about this important subject.). But before using any differentiating concept in your promotions, be sure you can deliver.
So what about a name, logo and tagline?
They should evolve from the differentiation (positioning) strategy. The name is particularly important in this branding approach. It should be based on these criteria:
Allude to the differentiating concept without being descriptive or business-defining.
Be unique and fresh.
With the perfect name, a tagline shouldn’t be needed, but that’s seldom the case. The tagline, if needed, should also arise from the positioning strategy and should re-enforce the name.
A logo needn’t be a big deal for a small service provider. The name rendered in a unique but legible typeface, perhaps with some unique kerning or letter combinations, should do the trick. You may wish to “box” or reverse the type into a solid background as well. Choose a color you like and then use it consistently. If you decide on an icon to accompany the signature treatment, be sure it’s not just another accounting cliché because that’s the way your competitors think.
So, best of luck entering a business where the basic service is identical to you competitors, where most new business comes from referrals, and you’ll find many not believing they require the services you offer.