Professional services firms are starting to wrap their collective arms around the difference between a brand and brand development. Branding is a tactic. And brand development is a discovery process that unearths brand distinction. The definition of a brand is, “A claim of distinction.”
Branding tactics include the consistent use of color, graphics, and positioning lines used in the communication of a brand’s distinction. But the color, graphics and tagline are not the distinction itself. No, a brand’s distinction is whatever separates it from its competitors, makes it stand out as extraordinary, or better yet, more valuable to the client—the end user.
Branding is the process that unearths a law firm’s unique distinctions. If you know three solid, bulletproof unique selling points (USPs), ones that no other law firm can claim, then communicate that differentiation by creating a clever and catchy positioning or tag line. If you can’t really define at least three USPs, your law firm should go through some sort of discovery process that will uncover them. Start by listing as many facts as you can about your firm (a hundred or so) then distill those facts down to three to five USPs.
We call this process Turning the Telescope.
This means we turn the telescope on the firm and conduct an inward search of what is unique about it like its culture, people, products, history, you name it. Once you’ve accomplished your discovery, find ways to make them absolutely unique. That creative and clear positioning line that communicates your firm’s brand essence is the beginning of the branding process. This line becomes a firm’s brand promise.
The concept of branding expands from tag lines or clever slogans to encompass brand-focused integrated strategic marketing plans. Successful brands have a well-crafted Brand Essence Statement or a paragraph that captures what the brand stands for. The critical attributes of this statement should be applied throughout a firm’s website, not just on the Home page or the About the Firm page. Website branding should also be realigned with new technologies and industry trends – not just redesigned.
Your firm’s unique distinction helps clients and potential clients understand who you are, what you stand for and what’s important to your firm. Branding is a serious proclamation of a firm’s brand values to its clients.
In articulating a brand promise your goal is to imbue your mark or logo as well as your positioning line with consistent meaning so that every appearance of it further communicates the brand promise and reinvests the logo with all associations. These traits are integral components of how your firm will go to market. All of a firm’s communication materials reiterate the brand concept. Over time we expect that when clients, prospects, recruits, and other friends of the firm see the collateral materials or hear the firm name, they will recall the brand concept and link it mentally to the critical attributes that differentiate your firm from other firms in your space and define its value proposition.