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By Kevin Wheeler
Nothing infuriates me more than when I hear that a law firm has “rebranded” only to find that what it has really done is get a design agency to come up with a new logo (in a different font and colour), a new style for its literature and marketing materials, and a fancy new website (with no new content). Law firm branding is a complex issue and such treatment only illustrates how little understanding the firm concerned (and its agency) has about branding.
What is a “brand”?
As consumers, all of us are familiar with brands, be they product brands like Coca-Cola or service brands like Virgin Atlantic. In effect, names that we know and trust. So, perhaps it’s not surprising to learn that the word “brand” is derived from the Old Norse brandr, meaning “to burn”, in reference to the practice of producers burning their mark or name onto their products or livestock.
But from these early days, branding has moved far beyond the visual identity – name, term, logo, design or colours – associated with a product or service. These days, organisations talk about the “brand experience” which also encapsulates psychological aspects like thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs and attitudes which they wish customers to associate with their products or services. In doing this, organisations want customers to feel that their brand has certain qualities or characteristics that make it special or unique, and for which they can then often charge a premium.
It sounds simple but, unlike a new visual identity that is relatively easy to create and implement, communicating and delivering the values of your brand in such a way that individuals respond positively to your message and choose to use your products and services over others that are available to them in the marketplace is a much more difficult challenge.
The challenge of delivering the brand experience becomes even more difficult for service providers as they are at the mercy of the behaviours of their staff, who have to deliver the service to the required standards on a consistent basis. In a factory, provided the manufacturing process is robust, every product will look and perform
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Kevin Wheeler has been advising professional services firms on all
aspects of marketing and business development for nearly 30 years. As a
consultant he helps firms to manage and grow their key clients as well
as to win new ones. As a certified coach with WABC he works with
partners and those approaching partnership to improve their BD skills.
0330 161 1234