I would argue that most people have negative associations with the Internal Revenue Service. Personally, I do not recall ever hearing positive comments about the IRS or taxes. The only time I would hear anything positive when it comes to taxes is when someone is getting a refund. So, the question I’m posing today is: should the IRS re-brand? In others words, is there anything that the IRS can do shift people’s perception about their brand that’s more positive (or even neutral).
We can certainly shift our perspective about taxes and the IRS but I do think this shift comes from our own accord (rather than something directed from the IRS). I could be persuaded otherwise but I think my answer would be “no.” I do not think the IRS should re-brand. And, I’m not even talking about changing their logo or their positioning. One might think that a branding consultant wouldn’t want to turn down a project, but I believe companies should invest in services that solves their problems.
In the case with the IRS, I don’t the issue is a “branding” issue. It’s a business issue or even a communications issue. You see, no matter how much the IRS changes their Positioning or Visual Identity, I think business itself will always have a stigma attached to it. However, through a solid communication strategy the IRS could mitigate or eliminate negative perceptions by incorporating a stronger communications strategy. For example, here are three tactics that that IRS could incorporate — which also happens to be three tactics that entrepreneurs can use in their small business.
- Use clear, plain-English language. I don’t know about you, but trying to understand taxes is like trying to learn a foreign language. I have no intention of mastering tax language because I prefer to leave that to the professionals. However, it would be useful (and empowering) to have a basic understanding with language that is easy to absorb and understand. The same is true with entrepreneurs. Sometimes you will make it easier for customers to buy from you if you don’t overwhelm with technical jargon, fancy words, or cryptic language.
- Incorporate a more intuitive naming system. The naming system reminds me of when I consulted with technology firms with a bunch of engineers. The naming system is quite complex and not intuitive. Naming is relegated to acronyms and numbers: 1040EZ, S-Schedule, IT-201, etc? For entrepreneurs, think about naming your programs, products and services in a way that makes it easy for people to understand what they will get from the products or services. Now, I haven’t seen entrepreneurs name their programs or services like a technology firm but I have seen naming systems that are too complex or not intuitive for the customer.
- Regular, consistent communications throughout the year. As a small business owner, I don’t like to think about taxes on a daily or weekly basis (nor do I care to). However, it would be great if the IRS could provide consistent communications throughout the year that people would want to read to better understand taxes and how to manage, protect or limit our tax liabilities. Consistent communication is a topic that certainly holds true for entrepreneurs as well — particularly if they are focused on building a database (or list) of followers. Whether you’re sending out an e-newsletter, direct mail piece or in-person events/workshops, regular and consistent communication throughout the year will help you engage with your audience and make it easier for them to buy from you.