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Getting the best from rebranding your firm

Rebranding your business is a big decision that should not be taken lightly but it can provide the fresh start some firms need.

Here, three advisers share their experiences.

Consulting a specialist

Telford Mann was originally the financial planning arm of an accountancy firm, but was forced to change its name from Moore Stephens Financial Services last year after a management buyout.

Joint managing director Jon Telford says: “If we’d have had the option to retain the old name, we’d have kept it.

“Clients you’ve been dealing with for a long time don’t like change. A new name raises a lot of questions such as ‘why?’ and ‘Who’s taking you over?’, so it was important that we didn’t create too much change.”

One of Telford Mann’s clients is a branding specialist, so the firm engaged them to work on the rebrand.

“They wanted to find out about us, how the business worked and they did some research with our clients who use different aspects of the services we provide to see what they most valued. It was real blue-sky thinking — they came up with a lot of different names but we hated all of them.”

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Telford Mann — the surnames of the joint managing directors — was chosen because it represented the least change. However, Telford says seeing a branding specialist was the right thing to do as it came up with a perfect logo once the team understood what it was about.

“I would advise others thinking about rebranding to think about the scope and depth of how it will affect you,” Telford says.

“It affects every single aspect of your business — your clients, bank accounts, suppliers, the regulator. Everyone you have a connection with needs to be aware of that change. It’s not something you want to rush into.”

Intellectual property warning

Cervello Financial Planning started out as Principal Financial Solutions but rebranded four years later. In 2013 the firm’s director Chris Daems had received a letter from a lawyer representing a US firm, Principal Financial Group, which had registered the use of the word ‘Principal’ for financially related businesses.

“We had to make a choice either to challenge this or rebrand. We made a pragmatic and commercial decision to rebrand,” Daems says.

However, he negotiated with the lawyers involved so that the rebrand would happen when the firm went directly authorised in 2015.

“We explained the situation to our clients both in person and via a series of emails, and they all understood the situation and continued to work with us. We had some additional costs relating to revamping our marketing material and website but, to be frank, this was long overdue and the change of name kicked us into gear to get it done,” Daems

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He advises anyone thinking of rebranding to check that their chosen name is not already registered with the intellectual property office.

“It’s something we certainly did when we rebranded to Cervello and would recommend anyone does, particularly if they want to make some noise as a business. We were highlighted to Principal Financial Group due to the work we’d done with the media.”

Daems also suggests getting clients involved as early as possible in both the thought process and the transition.

“We tried to stay in close touch with our clients and this paid off as we maintained the personal relationships, so the name above the door was less of an issue.”

Making the most of marketing

Fiona Gray Financial Planning director Fiona Gray rebranded after taking over her mother’s firm, Paul Associates, and relocating it closer to where she lived.

“I changed the name of the company to reflect the fact I was a female adviser. I realised being female in the industry was our USP,” she says.

Gray admits it has recently crossed her mind to rebrand again, 20 years later. “Now I’m getting older I have been thinking: is it right that the people running the business in the future should do so under my name? But I’ve spent the last 20 years building up Fiona Gray as a recognised brand and I’m loathe to get rid of that.”

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Gray has built her brand through local marketing and has found sponsorship of local events, such as annual festivals and local sports teams, particularly effective as people are more likely to go to the names they see around their area.

“I think it’s important to recognise where your market is geographically. In the past, I thought I needed to have a great spread of clients within 20 miles, but there is enough for us within a five-mile radius of the office,” she says.

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