Brian Copeland explains why the image a practice presents to its customer base and potential customer base is so important to the bottom line.

    Picture the scene: you’ve got a day jammed full of meetings with new and existing clients alike. Your paraplanner and administrator have already left you a stack of post-it notes on your desk asking you for various decisions, and your 10am (a possible new client) is late. That’s okay because you can deal with those questions and contact your platform’s CRM to release a new fund for another client. But they’re still late.

    Thirty minutes after their appointment time, a mid-20s, unshaven man, with several piercings and a tattoo poking out of the top of his t-shirt arrives at the office to meet you. Already disappointed at his lack of punctuality, you begin your usual preamble about your adviser firm when his phone goes off. Quite unexpectedly, he takes the call.

    You’re probably thinking this person is going to be a very bad client; lots of work and probably a small income to invest. You’ll no doubt hand him off to a junior member of staff to handle once you get through this meeting.

    We all love to think that we’re intelligent enough not to take people at face value. Not to make assumptions before they’ve opened their mouth, nor to assume the way they dress, or that week-old five o'clock shadow, defines who they are. But subconsciously we do, and then spend the rest of the time fighting those opinions.

    It could turn out our gentleman above is a professional footballer with a £200,000 a week salary or heir to a family fortune.

    But when it comes to the image of a business, you really cannot get away with such a lack of care and attention. For as we judge individuals by their ‘cover’, so too do we judge companies. And when we judge them, we are much less forgiving.

    How many times have you searched online for a product or service, selected the first link and arrived on a website that looked like it was created in word? Or one with a confusing page layout and unclear descriptions? Your reaction? Close the page and try the second link in your search.

    Cover: judged.

    The value of spending due care and attention on your businesses look is, alas, an unquantifiable one. For no two logos should be alike. What works for one business will not work for another, and so on.

    But the UK Design Council estimates through its research that businesses, which invest in design get a 15% return on their investment and that 50% of businesses make their investment back within a year.

    When every customer is judging your book by its cover, can you afford to cut corners? It could very well be the difference between growth and stagnation.

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