16 Jan What IS in a Name? EVERYTHING!!!
Recently I had the pleasure of being introduced to one of the finest and most exemplary law firms in the state of Connecticut (if not in the whole nation). To say they are one of the top law firms with regards to client experience that I have EVER come in contact with is truly not an over statement. When I first spoke with the managing partner and the partner in charge of operations I was gravely concerned about how the project I was being tasked with was exactly going to “play out”. They had been charged with learning what their USP (Unique Selling Proposition – we’ve talked about these before, and I KNOW you’ve heard Ken talk about them a 100 times before!) was and told that they really needed to have their firm “re-branded” or in their case, actually branded for the first time ever. They had been referred to me (always a huge compliment) because developing law firm brands happens to be one of the services I and my team specialize in. They were extremely pleasant to talk with on the phone and seemed to be amenable to the whole idea and project. So, I figured we were at least off to a positive start.
Marketing law firms takes talent and skill. As you probably know from talking with the hundreds of vendors who call your firm every year (or the person at your firm who answers their calls can tell you), they all have something to sell. They all think that their “whatever it is…” is going to get you more clients than the “whatever it is…” that the other company is trying to sell you. And, in some cases they are probably right to a certain degree. They can make your phone ring. But, they won’t be there to answer it and they won’t help increase the quality of the potential case the caller is calling about. And, most of all they won’t be able to see the whole picture. They see only their part. They understand websites or social media or PPC or video production or, or, or…. They won’t help you develop a strategic marketing plan. They don’t see things from 30,000 feet up. They don’t see things over the next 3-7 years. They don’t usually connect the dots, so to speak, and give you the “whole synergized picture”. They don’t help you track, measure, determine your ROI and how this will impact your bottom line. (Which is a topic for another article all together!). And, they definitely don’t help you determine and understand “who you are, what makes you different and how you should communicate that message to the world in a way that is consistent with who you are and that will also reach your target demographic in the manner they want to receive it.” Clearly, marketing a law firm isn’t something just any marketing person or sales rep can do!
THE BRAND – It IS What It’s All About!
So, I could have offered to pull together a proposal for a Strategic Plan or a Business Development Plan (both of which they still need), but the key to growing a law firm successfully is knowing where you are and knowing what you’re missing in your foundation. They didn’t have a Brand. (See, I came back.) So, they agreed and the work began. They key to working with this law firm and the success of the entire project lied in two key factors – 1) they listened to me, trusted me and allowed me to do what I do best (while they continued to do what they did best – practice law) and 2) they were overwhelmingly and very uncharacteristically HUMBLE. They allowed themselves to be vulnerable. They let me in. They talked and shared and talked some more. They were the absolutely the most responsive law firm I have EVER worked with in my career (LMA turned 10 years old in January and I worked with Ken Hardison for almost 8 years prior to that, so it’s been a long time and a lot of law firms!). They emailed me back within the day when I asked for interview appointments (even the lawyers). They NEVER once rescheduled. And, when we needed to add more time to an interview because we had more to talk about (because as I said before, they shared so much), they did so readily and easily. They wanted this project to be successful.
So, when I came to them after completing the internal analysis, the external demographic and market research (very extensive) and the external interviews/analysis with a BIG, HUGE and MAJOR recommendation, I was not totally surprised when they agreed to it. I (along with my team) had recommended that they change the name of their firm. This is a VERY RARE OCCURRENCE. But, in the case of this firm it was a necessary one, for many reasons, if they were going to stay relevant, stay client centric, grow their client experience, move forward into the future and be true to who they are (their brand).
The firm had evolved. The current name of the firm was VERY hard to pronounce and hard to remember. The name of the main founding partner (listed first) is probably the hardest to pronounce. He once held many positions in state and local politics and is still highly respected and regarded throughout the legal and political communities. Although still living and still coming into the office every day at the age of 87, he is now of counsel and most of the young lawyers practicing today do not know him and the clients the firm represents, for the most part, do not either. The managing partner, and definitely the “key” leader in the firm, also has a difficult name to pronounce. But, he is the cornerstone of the firm. He “is” the firm. Finally, the last named partner is also currently a practicing attorney. Known by current clients, but not all of the firm’s current clients, as he has a specialized practice area, and his last name is still mildly difficult to pronounce. There are two other partners whose names aren’t used in the firm’s name.
THE NAME – Should You, Could You, How Do You Ever Change It?
We created a NEW firm name. The name kept some of the old name so that it remained true to the past and tradition (part of who they are i.e., kept with the brand that was becoming very clear to us), would be easier to remember and pronounce, would carry the firm into the future and would last for the rest of the life of the firm. We kept the name of the “key” partner and the other named partner/practicing attorney. And then we did something very different. Instead of using a “tagline”. Something we had created from their USP. We decided to do something that was in line with who they are, we used the “old school” listing of ALL of the partner’s names underneath/beside the “main” name. The “key” partner had made a promise to the founding partner that his name would always be a part of the firm’s name, So, we kept the promise. The founding partner’s name was still there. And, the two additional partners who had never been included or listed in the firm’s name, were now “included” as part of that secondary part of the firm name. So, no wonder they were pleased and all of the partners accepted it in under two hours. It was them. Their brand was born. (We have since developed their brand and their logo. It was launched along with the new firm name in January!).
So, what is in a name? EVERYTHING – who you are, your brand, how you communicate that to the rest of the world, the past and the future of your firm, your client experience, that’s what’s in a name. Don’t EVER underestimate its importance or its value. Make sure you treasure it and use it to your fullest advantage. Because, it could be the only name you’ll have (but it might not be!).
Happy February!! Where ever you are, stay warm.” Baby, it’s cold outside!”
Because this year is a big year for LMA (as I said earlier, we turned 10 years old on January 8th!), I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity to say “Thank You” to all of the clients – past and current, all of the vendors, advisors, teachers, speakers, everybody who have supported me over the past 10 years. You have absolutely no idea how much each of you means to me. This truly has been an incredible journey and I couldn’t have made it to this point without you!
I can’t tell you how excited I am about the next 10 years and having you all along with me for the next chapter in the adventure of a lifetime! I honestly can say, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”
With my sincerest gratitude and heartfelt thanks ~ Lauren
HAPPY 10th BIRTHDAY, Lawyers Marketing Associates!
“Thank You” to all of our clients, vendors, friends and family members for all of your support!!!