Redefining the concept of business risk and developing a compelling brand positioning for a professional services firm
In a world of increasing uncertainty, new technology, information sharing, and other disruptive forces, a global professional services firm recognized the need to rethink the concept of “business risk.” Namely, it believed business risk was being elevated to a higher need; one which demanded more integrated, larger solutions that address a broad set of risk advisory needs across the enterprise. As such, our client asked FullSurge to identify a Risk Consulting brand positioning that: 1) transcends individual messaging around each of five distinct risk types, 2) fosters and enhances cross-functional executive relationships, and 3) enables premium pricing for service offerings. Additionally, it wanted us to help them identify gaps between the current state and this new aspirational positioning, and a set of strategic imperatives to close those gaps and successfully deliver the new positioning.
Our work began with a comprehensive audit of how management consulting firms, Big 4 professional services firms, and specialty risk advisors were identifying and addressing the topic of business risk. We also conducted a set of cross-functional C-level interviews among Fortune 500 executives who purchase risk advisory services to understand how their needs had been evolving in recent years, and the characteristics of an “ideal business risk advisory.” From this initial body of exploratory work, the team developed four distinct hypotheses on potential positioning options that were: 1) compelling, 2) unique, and 3) credible for the client and its brand.
These positioning hypotheses were then market tested—once again among Fortune 500 C-level executives—to determine which option was most attractive for our client. The winning direction was one in which clients “frame” risk more broadly than ever before—essentially by embracing intelligent risk-taking in pursuit of enduring business growth, while also mitigating the undesirable risk that undermines business performance. Our team then worked closely with the client’s cross-functional leadership team to identify a set of firm-wide strategic imperatives that would need to be addressed in order to ensure the positioning would be successful. These imperatives resulted in a set of targeted task forces and initiatives, spanning areas as diverse as capabilities and market offerings, human capital and employee engagement, and eminence and marketing.
The new positioning was enthusiastically adopted, and implementation began soon after project completion. Given the degree of aspiration in the new positioning—and the gap between it and current brand perceptions—the client began a gradual migration to its desired end state by adopting an interim (more credible) positioning to bridge the gap and allow for the appropriate capabilities to be developed and/or acquired.