Branding, It's Not Just For Cows, But For Law Firms and Lawyers, TooA Guernsey Cow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
SUSPEND YOUR SKEPTICISM
Put your skepticism on the shelf for just a few minutes, okay?
I know some of you think you don’t need a brand. You might be thinking:
- Brands are just for cows.
- Brands are for the consumer products’ companies, or for larger law firms, but not for yours.
- “Branding” is what got Brobeck in financial trouble, thus causing their implosion because they spent millions advertising it on CNN and similar venues (hogwash).
- During the past decade, the “experts” convinced you it couldn’t be done without huge sums of money, so you abandoned all thoughts of developing and communicating your brand, right?
Yes, I’ve been around for all of that, and lived to tell the story.
In today’s AMA [American Marketing Association], AMA Today enewsletter, there was a snapshot of a blog post titled, Your Brand Needs Energy. I’m not a member, so I wasn’t allowed to read the rest of the article, but I didn’t need to because the opening paragraph is what caused me to write this post.
“Unless your brand is one of the exceptions, it needs energy. A brand that has insufficient energy has two potential liabilities. First, it will lack visibility and it will no longer be among those that come to mind when customers consider a purchase. It will be lost in the noise of the environment and will no longer be relevant. Second, and perhaps worse, it can see declines in key image items such as perceived quality and trust. In addition, it could see the degradation of its ability to drive differentiation and loyalty.”
MY DEFINITION OF BRANDING
It might help to review my definition of a brand, which I first discussed here in my post, Branding In The Age of Social Media:
A brand is the set of characteristics, the personality, the way of doing business with you that is evident to anyone who does business with you, or who observes you.
- It tells people who you are.
- It tells people what you’re like when they do business with you.
- It tells people what your personality is.
- It tells people what you know…or don’t know.
- It tells people what they can expect from you.
- It evokes a feeling based on all of the above.
My definition hasn’t changed since I wrote that post.
MY TRUTHS ABOUT BRANDING:
- Whether you want it to or not, your very being communicates your brand to those with whom you come in contact.
- If you never spend a dime on it, you are still branding yourself, your firm and your work.
- Your brand is not your visual identity.
- Your visual identity is but one translation of your brand…the visual translation.
- When you act a certain way, speak a certain way or fail to do either of these, you are communicating a brand.
- When your words or actions are inconsistent, you will confuse your marketplace about what you stand for.
- Individual lawyers, practice teams, industry teams, client service teams, law firm offices and law firms can all have brands.
- If you don’t get involved in determining and communicating your brand, someone or some others, will likely do it for you.
- You must take control of defining and communicating your brand for it to be accurate.
1. If you don’t take control of defining your brand at every level of the firm, from individual to overall firm, you risk miscommunication of what you have to offer your clients.
2. You can’t set it and forget it. Defining and communicating your brand doesn’t just happen once. It involves daily care and feeding, and that doesn’t have to mean spending millions of dollars.
3. If you want people to know what you and your firm stand for, you have to give them something to talk about, and that is your brand. Give constant spoken, unspoken, written, unwritten and many other examples of what you are like to do business with.
4. You need to do a reality check with your clients on a regular basis to determine whether their perception and evaluation of your brand matches your perception of your brand.
How would you define your brand?
Go ahead, give it a go below.
This is an easy chance to show others what you stand for, and what you’re like to do business with.
[Hint. Hint. This is one of those inexpensive written ways I mentioned above that you can use to communicate your brand to the world, so GO FOR IT!]
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