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The Evolution of the Law Firm Brand – an LMA 2012 Re-Cap

My final session of the first day of the conference was “The Evolution of the Law Firm Brand: How to Promote the Individual Attorneys within the Parameters of the Firm’s Brand.” Panelists included Aden Dauchess, the Director of Digital Media with Womble Carlyle, Robert Algeri, Partner of Great Jakes Marketing, Joe Calve, the CMO for Morrison & Foerster, and Peter Winzig, the Director of Marketing and Corporate Development for Weltman, Weinberg & Reis. The panel was moderated by Adrian Dayton, CEO of Adrian Dayton & Associates.

The room was quickly filled with interested attendees, and soon it was not only standing room only, but full enough to turn people away.

I wasn’t able to stay for the entire session (my apologies to the panelists!), so I’ll just give you some of my highlights:

  • Even sophisticated purchasers of legal services have a hard time telling the difference between the top 25 branded firms.  Only 17% of general counsel see a difference between firms. (Takeaway – what makes your firm different and memorable?) 
  • The panelists compared lawyers to jars of mustard. With so many of them, how do you make your lawyers stand out? (Takeaway – what will make clients pick your lawyer over all of the rest?) 
  •  A favorite line – “Remember, if you can brand water, you can brand a law firm.” 
  • There is more to be done than building a big brand – show the firm, but also go into personal branding.  Every attorney has a story – what can be done to bring it out? Don’t just ask your attorneys to describe what they do. Ask them “describe what you love to do.” You’ll get a more valuable answer. Then integrate their personality with the brand. (Takeaway – interview each of your lawyers to learn what they love about what they do, then find the thread that ties the stories together and tell that story to your clients.)  
  • And an excellent point from the Twitter gallery – “How many firms try to ‘create’ a brand and apply it to their firm as opposed to the brand being a true reflection of the firm?” – Jon Holden 
  • When the panelists asked the audience how many people are proud of their attorneys’ bios, only four people in a room of 200 raised their hands.  The panelists then discussed the “Facebook effect,” which has effectively led to more personalized microsites for lawyer bios. They recommended integrating social media into attorney bios. Since attorney bios always get traffic (56-75% of website traffic occurs in the attorney bios section according to the panel), they should be used as a hub for all of the attorney’s content, including video, social media, articles, pro bono work, and their full resume. Well-written, comprehensive bios directly increase view rates. 
  • The secret to a winning logo? Whatever looks best on a golf shirt. (Takeaway – logos are not the most important thing in branding a law firm) 
  • The secret to a great website? Make it simple for the visitor.