By Brianna Sullivan
“Every brand creation project is either a startup or a turnaround,“ explained Valerie Jacobs, Chief Insight & Innovation Officer of LPK, a global design and branding firm, at a recent Cincinnati American Marketing Association event.
Dominoes is a turnaround. Uber is a startup. But what about your law firm?
Most law firm clients come to us at the beginning of a project with no brand recognition at all (startup), or they are trying to change the conversation surrounding an already established brand (turnaround).
If you are creating a new brand, you are in a unique position to really think about who you are and the story they tell, but it’s those of you with established or “heritage” brands who will need to consider rethinking your story.
WHEN TO TURNAROUND
When discussing the right time for a business to consider rebranding our “turning around”, Valerie brought up specific points, which she called forks in the road. These decision points should help guide you in whether or not your firm needs to rethink its brand identity and messaging.
- Your brand has become meaningless. The cornerstone of your brand has become irrelevant to your target market. Maybe your demographic has changed over time, or your firm is not up-to-date with new consumers. Your firm is no longer building culture and is out of step with either the industry or your market.
- Your brand has become fragmented. Maybe your firm is trying to tackle too many practice areas that aren’t related to one another. Maybe your attorneys are more experienced in one particular area, yet you advertise a host of practices. Too many pieces confuses your messaging and, ultimately, your potential clients.
- Your brand is too limited. In this case, your firm’s brand scope has become too narrow, whether that be in practice areas or type of client you go after.
THE BRAND REBIRTH FORMULA
After identifying what qualifies a brand for a turnaround, Valerie then discussed how to go about getting your brand moving in the right direction.
First, reboot. “Stop the madness”, Valerie said. Stop creating new marketing or brand collateral materials, and assess what you already have.
Next, refocus. Get back to the core of your brand. Why was the firm started? Who do you want to serve? What can you hang on to from your current identity, and what needs to go?
Finally, reimagine. What are your goals for your rebranded firm? This is your chance to expand your vision, look into the future of your law firm. Where do you want to go? Who are your customers, and what’s the best way to serve them? How can you differentiate yourself within the market?
New firms may think they only need to pay attention to the reimagine segment of this formula, but I strongly recommend considering the refocusing step as well. Obviously, your firm is brand new and hasn’t lost focus, but spend time thinking about your experience. What firms have you encountered that struggled? What went wrong? When and how was the focus lost? Thinking about these pitfalls reduces the risk of your new brand falling into similar traps.
TAKING THE NEXT STEP
I don’t need to tell you that, in most cities, the law firm market is incredibly competitive. Having a strong message that resonates with your target client will go far, but being decidedly different from your competition will go even further.
I’ll leave you with these questions to get you thinking:
- How do our competitors utilize technology? Can we do it better?
- Is everyone in my market targeting the same type of customer? Is there a client base we haven’t thought about?
- Why should people choose our firm over anyone else’s?
Hopefully, your juices are already flowing. Maybe your brand is already off to a great start, you just need to refocus.
Or maybe it’s time for a complete reinvention.