With more than $500 million in revenue, BKD is the nation’s twelfth largest CPA and advisory firm, serving clients across the U.S. and internationally. From small town businesses to global industries, BKD helps businesses and organizations navigate the financial landscape with confidence.
.01 THE CHALLENGE
Early in 2016, I was tasked with updating the BKD brand and infusing it with the energy and attitude necessary to distinguish its voice in the marketplace. The challenges were extensive: for one, services like tax and audit aren’t the most exciting to market. Plus, the accounting industry is historically cautious and risk adverse. The key challenge was nailing differentiation while staying true to the firm’s culture.
Lack of differentiation. Market confusion. Outdated messaging. Little flexibility.
My goals were to increase brand awareness, loyalty, and strength; markers of equity. Increasing our market exposure would help create positive associations in the minds of our audience. Showing confidence in an industry sea of marketing monotony would strengthen and clarify our voice. By developing and protecting the client experience, we would cultivate a loyal customer base that would ensure future revenue.
.02 CONCEPT AND PLAN
I began by surveying the firm’s leadership, partners, industry professionals and marketing specialists. I also created a task force consisting of the firm’s design lead and content manager, who brought an ideal mix of firm knowledge and creative experience to the challenge.
Together, we explored past client surveys, profiled the audience, and mapped the client journey from awareness to purchase. We developed new approaches to the way we segment our audience and how we communicate with them. Through this process we developed three brand objectives:
- Zig where our competition zags. Bring energy and humor to an industry that takes itself too seriously.
- Connect on a deeper level beyond facts and figures. Use storytelling to share the core roots of the firm.
- Conscript a commonly used industry phrase: ‘trusted advice,’ and make it ours with a twist.
Personify our service. Appeal to emotion.
Make it personal.
.03 determining the look
Directly targeting our goals, we pitched the concept of a brand mascot—a representative to embody the values and culture of the firm who could speak to the audience in a distinct and engaging way. Our mascot was planned from head to toe, thought to voice. We gave him rules—things he would always do, sometimes do, and never do. We created him to be an idealized embodiment of BKD client service traits.
Using the mascot as an embodiment of the firm and its culture, our goal was to build positive, emotional client connections to distinguish our straightforward accounting and advisory services. Through fun, relatable moments, the mascot interacts with client archetypes and the industries we serve. In these narrative moments, the mascot shares the core traits that set BKD apart.
Everyone needs a trusted advisor. Who's yours?
In 2017, we’ll launch a digital and print marketing campaign that tells the story of ten core BKD traits through exaggerated and humorous images. While still unreleased, this approach is already positively shifting culture, opening eyes, and grabbing attention. As we launch, we’ll measure key indicators across our release channels and be prepared to adapt and evolve as necessary.
.05 what we did
Insights and ideation: I partnered with two team-leads to conceive and translate firm objectives into a concept that addressed customer behaviors and motivations.
Strategy and vision: We created prototypes to share our vision, including design principles and content strategy. This helped promote ideas, gain buy-in, and drive decision making.
Planning and scope: We defined the product and supported customer needs while balancing business goals. This included prioritizing and negotiating features for launch and beyond.
Oversight and coordination: We collaborated with six teams to translate the goals for each medium and context.
Execution and validation: Identity and story development, casting, principal photography, and visual and voice presentation design are just a taste of what production and execution involves.
Leadership: Throughout the development cycle, we successfully presented our concepts and approach to stakeholders.