FAQs

Answers to common questions you might have about working with Prosper and the services we provide.

Questions about Prosper and our services

What is Prosper? 

Prosper is a niched branding agency serving accountants, CPAs and business advisors in the UK, US and Canada.

In a nutshell, what do you do exactly? 

We develop strategic brand identity design and websites for accountants, CPAs and business advisors, which help them discover their point of difference, stand out in the marketplace and connect with their audience.

What are the main services you offer? 

You can see our services overview here. Under branding we help our clients with the following: 

Brand audits
Brand strategy workshops
Naming
Brand identity development
Brand guidelines
Messaging and tone of voice

We also design and build websites, and offer graphic design services such as social media graphics, ebook design, brochures and exhibition collateral. 

How are you different from other firms? 

We’re very niched in our positioning as ‘the branding agency for accountants’ and that's what we rank for in Search Engines. We're a small yet focused company, trained in graphic design and visual communication, so we understand how colour, typefaces, images and layout can influence how your company is perceived in the minds of your audience.

We don't provide hurried logos as a secondary deliverable to a website design for example. We argue that brand development is a strategic process and comes first, before any website development, and certainly before you can do any kind of purposeful marketing. 

Finally, we have carried out unique research into the branding and website habits of 500 accountants in the UK (and, later, in early 2022 we’ll deliver similar for accountants and CPAs in the USA). 

Questions about the kinds of clients we work with

What sort of situations do your clients find themselves in when they need your services? 

Generally, we see our clients in three situations.

1) They are a start-up beginning from scratch.
Often clients may be leaving an existing firm to start their own practice / CPA firm and they want brand development, naming, identity design and a website for example.

2) They are an existing firm with a good reputation but need to be more consistent with their branding.
They are a successful company with years of experience, but their branding and online presence is somewhat lacking and needs refreshing. They're looking for their existing brand to be more consistent across their customer touchpoints (such as their social media and their website) but do not want to change their name.

3) They are seeking a re-brand because they want to modernise.  They may want to attract the right kinds of clients and staff. They feel their brand identity is tired compared to the competition, and often it looks much the same as the next firm or it no longer represents what their company stands for.

I’m not based in the UK, can you still help me? 

Yes, we can deliver our entire process remotely. We're firm believers in some good old face-to-face communication which is why we encourage Zoom / Google Hangouts / Skypes etc. We can present your new branding online via our branding presentation method and we keep you in the loop throughout. We did it for Kinline in the USANumerity in Canada, and during the pandemic, we did it for Riordan's in London. 

I’ve never worked with a design agency before… so I don’t know what to expect. 

Don't worry this is a common question... here's some info on our overall process, and here's an article we wrote about how we develop websites with clients. 

Here are some things to remember working with Prosper; 

1) We're a small firm and we'll give you 100% of our attention. 
2) We're big on communication and you'll be dealing directly with Ben, the owner of Prosper.
3) Your satisfaction matters to us.

Do we need to meet in person?

Not in person, but we will be having a discovery call (over the phone, or better still via video) to find out a little more about what kind of projects you have in mind. We'll also have plenty of phone calls or video calls as we go through our process with you.

Who will I be dealing with if I work with Prosper? 

We work with a small number of clients at any one time, so you'll deal directly with Ben, face-to-face, on the phone and during presentations. And where matters of copywriting are concerned, you'll work with Danielle. You can find out more about us here.

Questions about strategy, branding and naming

What is brand strategy anyway?

There are a lot of ways to define branding and brand strategy, but let's keep it fairly simple.

Brand strategy is working through a process to help you understand your point of difference, who your audience is, and what matters to them and then communicating that difference. Put another way, it's helping your audience understand your 'Why'.

Brand strategy will help you uncover your positioning, your USP (unique selling points) and your values, ultimately shaping the 'personality' of your brand and in turn, influencing the way you present yourself through your brand identity.

Your brand identity is the visual and verbal manifestation of that brand strategy. At its core, it's your colour pallete, use of fonts, the kind of language you use, your logo and your website design. When these elements are combined they work together to position your company in the mind of your audience and set you apart from the competition. Your brand is essentially your reputation and how other people see your company.

Can you do me just a logo? 

We don’t supply ‘just’ a logo to our clients, because a logo is a part of an overall brand identity system we would design for our clients after they have completed the brand strategy workshops.

Our intern has done us a logo, can we use that and build the rest of the stuff around it? 

No.

I’m starting a new company, can you help me with naming?

Yes, naming is a process we take our clients through as we develop their brand identity. We wrote a guide about choosing a decent name for your accountancy practice here..

What is this research you talk about, and why does it matter to me? 

This research gave us an insight into how accountants approach aspects of their brand such as naming, positioning statements, website photography, Google reviews, social media usage, colours and of course logo design.  

Gathering and publishing this data allowed us to see trends and patterns, so we know what colour most accountants use in their websites, we know that most accountants name themselves after their founders, and we know the common words and language they use on their websites. This knowledge in turn allows us to advise our clients on what not to do, in order to deliberately different themselves (which is the reason any company invests in branding in the first place). 

Questions about websites

Can I choose a website from a pre-designed template? 

In almost every circumstance our websites are designed from scratch because this is part of our efforts to differentiate your firm. Some companies offer accountants a menu of pre-designed websites, but our clients don't want that sort of thing when they are investing in their branding with us, because understandably they don't want the same website as the next firm...

Can I edit my website? 

Yes, you can change text, images, headings and links. This is done via the Editor which is a very easy website editor that you and your staff can log into and make any changes as you see fit.

I'm too busy / I'm not very good with computers, can you do that stuff for me?

It's not very complex, and we do provide video training, but, yes, we can help you with that if need be. Just ask, and we'll arrange something with you.

Do you write the copy for websites?

Yes, normally we write the copy for our clients websites. This is done after we deliver an initial online copywriting workshop with Danielle to understand more about the services you offer and how you'd like to come across (while keeping your target audience in mind). From here Danielle will then craft compelling, human sounding copy so it reads naturally, and is structured properly.

We will also write SEO friendly Page Titles, Page Descriptions and Google Descriptions for your website, to ensure you're saying the right things in the right places.

Can you build me a blog?

Via a CMS (a Content Management System) your website can feature a blog, case studies and resources such as ebooks and downloads, which you can add content to via the Editor as well. Most accountants don't write original blog articles, so it's a great way to show some thought leadership and give your social media content some credibility.

What about integrating things like Mailchimp and Calendly? 

Yes we can integrate most things such as Mailchimp contact forms, Calendly embeds, Google maps, and links to client portals for example.

How much do things cost and how long do they take?

How much do branding projects cost? 

Although prices will vary depending on requirements, typically clients pay between £3,000 and £7,000 plus VAT.

How much does a website cost? 

Website scope can vary hugely, so depending on requirements, page-count and functionality, our clients typically invest upwards of £4,500 plus VAT on a bespoke website.

I've had cheaper quotes...

We understand. If you're shopping around and making a decision based only on price, then we're probably not the agency for you. If you just want a quick logo then your local design and print house might offer you a ‘logo design’ service, as do many people on gig-economy websites such as Fiverr. Or you can even try some of the free logo generator websites, but we wouldn't recommend it if you're wanting to come across as professional.

A branding agency will take you through a process over a period of weeks, developing positioning statements, identifying your USP and even helping you name your firm. There's a marked difference in the deliverables and the positive ramifications for your firm when you work through a strategic branding process, which is why it costs a lot more and takes a lot longer.

How long does a branding project usually take? 

Depending on deliverables, usually between two to four months.

How long does a website take? 

Usually between two and four months.

How involved do I need to be in the process?

We have an expectation for you to be invested in the process. This is a collaboration, and you know your business better than anyone else. You're also investing a fair amount of money, so it is worth investing mentally as well.

How should we pay you? 

We have a policy for all new clients of 50% upfront, 25% stage payment and 25% upon delivery. For larger projects we can offer more flexible terms. All payments to be made in GBP.

Do you accept cheques? 

No. We accept electronic payment via bank transfer only. If you are not based in the UK we can supply you with the necessary information for your bank to process the payment to our UK bank account.

Can I just ask?...

Why don’t you offer Google advertising or social media advertising? 

Two reasons.
1) We’re a branding agency, so our strengths are in developing effecting brand identities for our clients.
2) Google PPC campaigns and social media campaigns (when done properly) are specialisms in themselves.

We use specialists to do these things for us, and yes, we can introduce you!

What else don’t you do?

We don't start work without a signed Project Agreement Form and a deposit.

We don't let interns, spouses or partners children get involved in the actual design process, or work up designs based on logos you've seen elsewhere. We're not being precious, thats us being professional.

We don't provide any creative ideas or designs 'to see if you like them' without being formally engaged (i.e. a signed Project Agreement Form and a deposit).

We don't keep quiet on matters of design, meaning if you're insisting on a brand direction that our experience tells us is a Very Bad Idea then we're going to tell you, because you hired us for our expertise right?.

What kind of things make a terrible impression on an accountancy practice website?

Well since you've asked, here are just a few:

Having a website that does not work on a mobile phone or tablet.
Why is that bad? It's 2021 for a start, and you're a professional services firm. The majority of people that will visit your website will do so on a mobile device, so having a website that fundamentally doesn't work leaves a bad impression.

Using a picture of a white 'Morph' like character pointing to a graph on your website. 
Why is that bad? It looks terrible, it sends totally the wrong impression, and looks very very cheap. It's also pretty condescending to your website viewers too if you think about it.

Using a photo of a group of people high-fiving on the roof of a building at sunset on your website. 
Why is that bad? Do you do that at work? Thought not.

Having logos designed by children or family members because is has 'meaning'. 
Why is that bad? We're sure it does have meaning, but perhaps meaning that - given you are a professional services firm, and trying to act like one - is best kept on the refrigerator door. Your logo is the identifier element of your brand, a fundamental part of your visual identity that needs to work across multiple platforms. Also, logo design will come at the end of working through brand strategy, not before. And, unless your family member really knows what they're doing, it probably isn't doing your firms' reputation any favours. Sorry.

Having a positioning statement that reads "We're a pro-active firm of accountants working with businesses large or small" 
Why is that bad? Well by saying that, what you're really saying is "We are absolutely the same as the next company and we really don't care who we work with, we'll work with anyone"

Having a positioning statement that reads "Big enough to cope. Small enough to care" 
Why is that bad? It's cliche and meaningless, and lazy.

Having a blue and grey colour scheme all over your website because you told the website designer that's what accountants websites look like and they absolutely agreed and did it. 
Why is that bad? Because you spent as little money as possible on a website and had it designed by someone who was only there to take orders, and not actually push back and offer you expert advice borne from insight.

Choosing and renting a website template from one of those firms that rents website templates to accountants where they put your logo in the corner and it's done in 24 hours and costs a few quid a month.
Why is that bad? Because you're renting a website that is actually in use by thirty other accountants in the UK, and really there's no difference between your firm and theirs to the casual website viewer.

Having a paid-for Newsfeed embedded in your website and calling it your 'blog'.
Why is that bad? It isn't a blog, its a newsfeed that is in use by many other accountants, so the content on there does nothing to differentiate you. A blog is where you share your own targeted and helpful expertise, the sort of content that gives your social media real substance. A original blog is one of the true differentiators for accountants. A newsfeed is exactly the opposite.

Next steps...

I'd like to have a chat about my project, where can I get in touch? 

Great, in the first instance, get in touch with me (Ben) via the website here and I'll contact you to arrange a good time for a chat to find out some more about your project.

I'll give it some thought. Got anything I can download or read in the meantime?

Yes, have a look at the following:

This is our blog.
These are our ebooks and resources.
This is our research into accountants branding and websites
Or sign up to our monthly newsletter at the bottom of the page here

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