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Wednesday, May 20th, 2020


“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne Williamson

It was in the news last week. Maybe you read about it. Rehmann, a large Michigan based firm and one I have known and admired for years, even before they were a “large” firm, has rebranded and released a 30-second video as part of the brand launch.

Has your firm taken the time to think about the new opportunities you have during this troubling time? Are you making your clients aware of how perfectly placed your firm is to help them through the challenges that they are now experiencing? Do you have prospects that are beginning to realize they need a more progressive firm?

Maybe some rebranding would show your clients and prospects that you are right there beside them during this challenging time.

I loved the Rehmann video. Check it out here.

  • The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.
  • J. Pierpont Morgan

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Build Your Brand – Be Visible

“The power of visibility can never be underestimated.” – Margaret Cho

You have heard it over and over in recent years, you have to be visible on social media to attract and retain clients.

Yes, I agree with that. But, I ask more of you!

Don’t forget the old fashioned way. You must be visible in your business community – up close and personal.

Each person working at your CPA firm helps build a reputation for the FIRM. Remember those elevator speeches (describing what you do in 30 seconds)? Are you still teaching your newest team members how to do that? Remember, when someone asks you where you work you don’t say, “I work for an accounting firm.” You say, “I work for Acme CPA firm, the fastest-growing, most knowledgeable and progressive CPA firm in town! I am on the tax team.” Each person crafts their own story.

All your partners and managers should be involved in a charitable or community organization and eventually take a leadership position in that organization.

A basic visibility activity that partners sometimes forget – you eat lunch outside the office every day. Eat lunch with a client, a banker, an attorney or with another person from the firm. Dine at the most popular business lunch place in town where you will be seen by clients, bankers, and attorneys.

An on-going motto for the firm – “Let’s get visible!”

  • A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is visible labor and there is invisible labor.
  • Victor Hugo

Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

Make Your Website (and your Brand) Unique – Here’s a Great Example!

“If you want success, be unique.” – Natalie Massenet

Occasionally, I like to share CPA firm unique websites. I see so many that are static, boring and usually blue. Last year, I featured Bernie & Jason Ackerman of BNA CPAs & Advisors, one of my favorites. I love how they tell visitors to their site how they deliver a tax return in 3 days.


This year, I just had to share the site of my good friends at Barton CPA & Associates. Their light-hearted and fun approach to business is simply refreshing.

When you get to their homepage, page down to see a picture of their lobby – tasteful, contemporary and colorful. Keep paging down to see other pictures: Part of their team, their conference room and a team picture at some kind of celebration. It sure looks festive and I don’t use the word “festive” about CPA firm websites often – well, never!

Check out the pictures on Greg Barton’s Twitter site. I love the March 23 tweet showing Greg in his office. Does your office look this good (and clean)?

Browse around the site. They have an Instagram account and Facebook, of course. I hope it gives you some ideas for taking action soon to update your site and inspiration to not take yourself too seriously.

A big thanks to Greg and Dee Dee for allowing me to share their excellent branding efforts and their uniqueness!

  • Uniqueness is what makes you the most beautiful.
  • Lea Michele

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Updating Your Branding

There are a lot of new trends in public accounting. You have read about them here on this blog, in my newsletter and in various publications and blogs for CPAs.

Of course, there are also new trends in other disciplines that affect public accounting. Branding for example.

Per HR Bartender, employment branding is disappearing. Employment branding and consumer branding are being merged together to form ONE company brand. That strong brand will be used to attract and retain clients and employees.

Many firms have done a great job of building a firm brand but most do still have sub-categories under that one brand to attract clients and future employees.

Building ONE brand can serve three purposes: Attract new clients, attract employees and make current employees proud to be part of the firm.

Maybe your brand is unclear, split, confusing or even non-existent. Check out this article on HR Bartender and view the video example from Go Daddy. It is a brand that stresses lots of things, including hard work!

Here’s an excerpt:

If I’m a customer, I know exactly how GoDaddy is going to support me and my business. If I’m a candidate, I understand the GoDaddy culture – the everyday hard work that’s expected to keep customers’ business dreams alive. And if I’m an employee, I’m proud to be a part of that success. One brand. One video. For multiple audiences.

  • You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and by not quite knowing what you're doing. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself.
  • Alan Alda

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Advancing Your Brand

“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos

Last week, the Ohio Society of CPAs unveiled their new brand. I love the “Advancing the State of Business” focus and the video that talks about what CPAs in Ohio really do to help Ohio advance the state of business.

CPAs in all states are really doing the same thing.

I want to share the video and I hope you’ll take three minutes to watch it.

Is this the year that your firm needs to rebrand itself? Is your logo stale and out-dated? Winning client opportunities and attracting top talent is ALL about your brand. What are people in your business community saying about you?

Whether you do a rebrand or not, why don’t you do a similar video to help your clients understand how you can help them move their business forward. Put the video on your website and use social media to “drive” people to your website. Mention the video to current clients and ask them to share it with their business friends

  • If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
  • Howard Schultz

Friday, August 7th, 2015

It’s Time To Rebrand

I work with CPAs and their firms. I visit many, many CPA firm websites on a continual basis. For many, it is definitely time to rebrand.

My clients and other CPAs I meet ask me, “What are other firms doing?” or “Can you give me a good example?”. Thanks to my friends at LBMC, headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, I can.

Here is a video about their new rebranding project.

LBMC is a very large firm and can afford to spend a lot more money than many other firms. That’s no excuse for you not to consider rebranding. You can do it! Establish a budget and go forward. It is one step in becoming a firm of the future.

  • If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.
  • Howard Schultz

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

Want A Strong Brand? – Your Culture Drives It

0 Avatar slide for blogLast week I wrote about how your processes and procedures (systems) are driven by your culture. There is another important thing about culture – – it is the engine behind your brand. In fact, I think culture and brand go hand-in-hand for growing CPA firms.

Want to assess your culture? Sit quietly in the next partner or management meeting and just listen. Bring your lunch and sit off to the side alone in the lunch room and just listen (pretend you are reading a book!). The next time your leadership team is discussing an important decision, just listen…. and assess how decisions are made.

As Shawn Parr, in a recent article noted, “A vibrant culture provides a cooperative and collaborative environment for a brand to thrive.” I like his comparison of Zappos (fast-growing, electric culture that’s inclusionary, encouraging and empowering) with American Apparel (a company with a well-documented and highly dysfunctional culture).

I have met so many accounting firms that fit into BOTH categories. I have been so encouraged by some progressive firms that are on the leading edge (not the bleeding edge). Their team members love working for the firm and realize what a great profession they are part of.

On the other hand, I have also talked with many firms that are struggling. Their experienced CPAs hide from confrontation. They love status quo. They wonder why they have turnover.

Building a vibrant and strong firm culture is not easy and it takes time. Leaders must believe the vision and live the values.

Rally your firm leaders and have them to commit to taking the first step. It’s an easy one, beginning this week, every boss (partners and managers) will set a great example! They must acknowledge that they are being watched and that it is their responsibility to earn their employees’ trust.


  • Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.
  • Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Website – Website – Branding – Branding

New website and rebranding for Anders made me say, Wow!

I’ve been nagging CPA leaders to “make this your year of website” for several years now. That’s why I am always so thrilled when I see another great firm take the step.

In fact, I often get questions directly from CPA partners. Here is one such conversation not long ago:

Long-time partner in a CPA firm: “Rita, what would you say our firm’s brand is?”

Rita: “I don’t know what your brand is. I can’t tell.”

Partner: “Me either!”

Marketing and design agency Atomicdust has modernized the visual identity of Anders, a St. Louis-based CPA and advisory firm. They helped the firm modernize.

Anders (formerly Anders Minkler & Diehl), is an advisory firm that caters to privately held companies and high-net-worth individuals – much like most of you reading this blog. They hired Atomicdust to create a focused visual identity that would help the Anders brand stand out from the CPA pack.

The story of this project for Anders was featured on Fast Co.Design, Rebranding a CPA Company, Just In Time For April 15.

I liked Atomicdust’s 2-minute video “story” on their home page. Especially this quote from Mike Spakowski, Principal on the topic of how he hires people – When people are passionate about other things it is a benefit for clients.


  • So sure, start with a slogan. But don't bother wasting any time on it if you're merely going for catchy. Aim for true instead.
  • Seth Godin

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Building A Brand In Public Accounting

I often hear the following from CPA firm partners: What is a brand, anyway? Do you think we have one? How do we build one?

Jean-Caragher-2012-resizedJean Caragher, founder of Capstone Marketing a firm focused on the CPA profession and an inaugural member of the Association for Accounting Marketing Hall of Fame in 2001, offers some great advice in her article, Building Your CPA Firm’s Brand. It was originally published in CCH Practice Management Forum and can be found on Jean’s website.

CPA firm branding is often misunderstood. It is not spending a fortune on a full-blown branding project nor is it as simple as redesigning your logo.

I love Jean’s description…. “Simply put, it is who people think you are, from the way a person answers the phone, to the way you do business, to the look of the invoice.”

That’s where I think CPA partners might get off-track and try to pinpoint developing a brand into a specific activity when actually it is the whole story of how you run your firm.

When I was developing the brand for my firm, many years ago, I always declared to my partners and team members…. “We want to appear bigger and better than we are!”

For example, when business people at a business networking event or charitable fund-raising event said to me, “Your firm must really be growing, I just met three other people from your firm.” It didn’t necessarily mean we were growing, it just meant we organized our efforts to be well-represented at important events. Of course, we were actually growing but maybe not as fast as was perceived from the outside.

In her article, Jean recommends surveying your partners and people to determine what the firm stands for, what the unique strengths of the firm are and what attracted them to join the firm and remain with the firm.

Follow the link above to read Jean Caragher’s helpful article.

  • A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
  • Jeff Bezos

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Marketing, Sales, Branding, Re-branding and More

For the last few years I have been urging CPAs to focus on their website. Many have, many have not. Do you still have the old-fashioned look? Along with your boring website, is your logo stale and dated? How about your tagline? Are you the cool firm in town?

No? As the old saying goes, “there is no time like the present.”

Earlier this week I blogged about the increase in digital marketing efforts by firms this year. Where do you stand on this?

I often refer you to a firm who is leading the way with savvy, youthful, cool marketing efforts and communication to their marketplace – Freed Maxick.

Check-out this video for how they are introducing their new brand identity then begin jotting down notes about what you must do immediately after 4/15 (or better yet, don’t wait).


  • Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
  • Oscar Wilde