Christine Hansen – “Refreshing” a law firm brand is always a fraught task, but as the legal market becomes more tech-focused and competitive, the need to show you are ahead of the game is something that remains key to successful projection of a brand image.
We wrote about the major law firms that have rebranded in an article on law firm branding last year.
The latest New Zealand law firm to undertake the task has been Buddle Findlay who refreshed this week – positioning itself as “New Zealand’s collaborative law firm”
That, it must be said, is better than Meredith Connell’s initial strap line of ‘The Firm’, which since appears to have gone.
The problem for law firms is how do they actually distinguish themselves as something different?
Is it expertise? Experience? Longevity? Technology?
The branding exercise by Buddle Findlay determined that the point of difference in the legal market is its ‘collaborative approach and focus on people and relationships”, as the press release noted.
Well, we think probably most law firms of any size would lay claim to such ‘collaborative’ work. After all, this is a service industry and without collaboration you don’t have much of anything.
We don’t doubt that Buddle Findlay have a collaborative approach, but is that really a point of difference? Or merely a branding outfit’s grasping at branding concepts to work with.
The problem for law firms rebranding is to somehow distinguish themselves from the sameness that is the legal services industry, particularly when Big Law firms are involved.
The legal market is crowded and identifying a ‘unique selling point’ is much more difficult when there are a variety of services offered by something like a major service provider, such as a large law firm.
The range of ‘services’ is significant, and so how do they deliver a coherent, effective ‘message’?
Your Law Firm’s ‘Essence’
Establishing what is the ‘essence’ of your firm – the key differentiators that truly make the firm different from others – is a tough ask for many firms, but it remains a job that must be done.
The messaging from your firm will support the positioning that you take as a firm. There are core messages that need to be established in building that message.
And the brand is a vitally important part of the legal business. It’s a vital part of any business. Take Coca Cola for instance, which has an instantly recognisable name, colour usage, font and has a brand worth over $80 billion alone.
A strong brand will build trust and loyalty, as well as distinguishing your law firm from competitors, but also permitting your staff to remain focused on the core messaging that you wish to deliver.
But it also needs to be consistent and authentic.
And – most importantly – it needs to deliver a branding package that builds a narrative that blends the unique features of a firm together in a cohesive manner, which resonates with potential clients.
National Chair, Jennifer Caldwell (right) said “The Buddle Findlay promise is exceptional outcomes through collaboration. Our brand and visual identity needed to better reflect the focus on collaboration and relationships, and capture the contemporary, clear thinking, confident, people-centred firm that we are.”
Hmm. Could this be said of most law firms? There is a ‘branding refresh’ PR take on this that says the sort of things most firms would say when ‘refreshing’ their image.
And most firms do say it when they ‘refresh’. All the law lingo for co-operative, results-focused, client-centered and massive professionalism and expertise are used to push the PR envelope when freshening up the firm brand.
That said, the firm has made a nice job of a clean and attractive website that modernises its online offering, even if it has run up to the issue of finding that ever-elusive point of difference.
Christine Hansen writes on law firm branding and marketing for publications, including LawFuel.
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