The Legal Branding Doldrums

How to Positioning Your Legal Brand Away from the Herd and Into Higher Profits

The state of legal branding has fallen into a state of despondency. An epidemic of sameness prevails, as firms are repeating the same three-points across the country: “We are global”, “We are innovative”, “We deliver great service”. When reading the content of many of the firms’ websites, one can see the problem exacerbate as it seems to come from only one source, and in some cases, it’s verbatim. So, what sets them apart?

While the legal industry is renowned for being conservative and slow to move, having everyone cluttered together with little to no point of differentiation makes it impossible for customers to select the right firm, and for firms to gain business on their true value. If one cannot express differentiation, the only thing separating one firm from the next is the cost of the proposal. Overtime, the inability to articulate clear points of difference will slowly cheapen services, and the perceived value of any legal brand, making law firms a commodity run by low cost winners.

In a recent industry study, when asked about today’s state of competition, firms concluded, “competitive pressure continues to increase, which means [that] the need for strong marketing and business development is greater now than ever.”1 That being the case, the one way to ensure that your firm evolves and grows is by creating a unique position that resonates with customers by showcasing your best attributes, separating you from the rest of the competition.

To overcome the legal brand doldrums, one must first understand the challenges CMOs and marketing directors face, daily. For this brand of professionals, there is tremendous pressure to deliver on new business. CMO’s and marketing directors undertake the task of collecting information across the firm from partners, many of which are unresponsive. Next, they must also educate partners and executive boards on new technologies to garner approval (a daunting task when those approving don’t have any grasp of technology). In turn, in-house and smaller firms are able to adapt quicker, be more innovative and efficient, and ultimately, apply competitive pressure from all sides.

So, how does a firm establish a relevant and solid foundation to strengthen the its market position and make marketing materials that fend off competitors so as to garner more business?

There are three core steps firms should take to create a strong foundation for branding:

1: Leverage your firm’s values. Do you have a mission statement that represents the values of your firm and its people?

2: Hone in on the firm’s point of difference. By looking into the firm’s history, find the key points that are unique for the industry. Identify the strength in key practice areas.

3: Project the future of the firms desired goals. Consider new areas of growth while retaining your core values and point of difference.

To implement these processes, there is a series of exercises that one must follow to cultivate rich insights that have been buried over the years. Look outside your firm, to not skew the results with internal pressures or biases. The right agency partner should bring sound strategic business acumen combined with strong creative design capabilities and technology to bring it all to life.

When implemented correctly, the new positioning will deliver a fresh brand story that inspires customers and partners, alike. The tone, content, and imagery will see a move away from competitors’ overwhelming greyscale, making a positive distinction and garnering new leads and revenue.

Rudy Bozas, Saturno Design - Managing Partner

Brand and Marketing Specialist

1. LexisNexis – Law Firm Marketing & Business Development Survey 2018


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