“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or company.”
– Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap and Zag: The #1 Strategy of High-Performance Brands
Marty’s definition gets to the heart of the matter. Here’s the thing, your brand is not just your logo or your website. It’s not just your stationary or your firm brochure.
Your brand is what your clients say it is. Your brand is how you make people feel.
Your brand is EVERYTHING about your firm. Your logo, website, stationary, and firm brochure are part of your brand, but they are just a part. Your brand is . . . How promptly you return phone calls . . . How tidy your office (yes, YOUR office) is . . . How your receptionist answers the phone . . . How prepared you are for meetings or hearings . . . How you speak to clients . . . Whether your shoes are shined . . . Whether you deliver projects on time. You get the idea.
Although you can’t say what your brand is, you can influence your brand in everything you do. You can start by thinking about branding your firm as a three-step process.
1. Know who you are, what you do, and what makes you “the only.”
Before you can influence your brand you have to know what you want to convey. The first step in building your brand is to get very clear about who you are. What is your law firm’s mission? Who are your ideal clients? How do you help them? What makes you unique? Or in Marty Neumeier’s words: “What makes you the only?” If you can’t answer these questions, you cannot build a brand.
2. Spread the word.
Now that you know who you are and what you do and what makes you unique, you’ve got to let others know. This is where your logo, website, and other marketing materials come in. All of your marketing materials must have a consistent look and feel. But spreading the word goes far beyond your marketing materials. Remember, your brand is EVERYTHING. Your brand must be conveyed in everything about your firm. You’ve got to “live” your brand every day.
3. Live it.
Your job in building your brand is to create a brand experience in every aspect of your practice. Do you return your calls when you say you will? Does your office create an experience that is consistent with your brand or is it a mess with files all over the place? When you go to a bar luncheon are your shoes shined? When a client calls your office, are they greeted warmly or do they feel like they’re just another problem to deal with? If you live your brand, you’ll create a total brand experience, and your clients will spread the word for you.
So, what’s your brand and what are you doing to influence it? I’d love to know!