GETTING TO A COMPREHENSIVE BRAND
If you keep up with current trends—especially those in the job market over the past few years—you may have heard job experts promoting “personal branding.” But branding is not a new concept. In short, a brand represents your identity (for a personal brand) or your firm’s identity. The most successful brands stand on their own (think Coca Cola or McDonald’s).
A business brand can represent a product or a company and should reflect who you are. Your brand isn’t just a visual or a logo. It should flow through everything the firm creates, says or does. Brands must be honest and consistent. Think about what your mission is for your firm—why are you in business? Now describe some of the things that make you unique (your unique sales proposition or USP). Next, consider what your clients like about the firm—is it extraordinary client service? The firm’s long history and traditions?
When I look at your website, are those things clearly communicated? When I get a newsletter, does the content reflect who you are as a firm, and carry through the same “brand”? When I call the firm, does the brand carry through? You might be questioning how the person answering the phone can carry the brand, but think about it: we can convey a tremendous amount of information in our voices and tones—happy, sad, perky, energetic, calm, professional, curt, terse, busy, overwhelmed—the list goes on.
Developing a comprehensive brand is not easy. It takes some trial and error, time and consistency. You must also be willing to adjust your brand as times change (though this can be small tweaks). If you haven’t really defined your mission or thought about how you come across to potential clients, take some time to do so. Then do a critical review of your firm, starting with the client touchpoints to see if your brand is recognizable and sets you apart from the competition! Not sure where to start? Give us a call at (919) 821-4004 .
CAN YOU AFFORD NOT TO HAVE A BRAND MANAGER?
What is a Brand Manager? According to salary.com, the Brand Manager or Product Manager:
“Manages, develops, and implements marketing activities to maximize sales of an assigned brand. Analyzes brand performance, brand competitiveness, and product trends in the marketplace and develops strategies for assigned brand based on research and analysis. Works with sales teams to identify and implement appropriate sales strategies.”
It would be great if every firm had a Brand Manager to ensure the brand was developed and managed on a daily basis. In reality, though, the average salary for this position in the Raleigh, NC area is $90,100, way outside the price range for many smaller firms.
But you do have some options. First of all, you can hire a marketing firm to help determine and develop the brand. The marketing firm can either assist in maintaining the brand ongoing, or can step back after the brand is defined and allow your staff to be brand managers. It all depends on how much time you want your internal staff to spend on marketing and brand activities. You might also choose to do the work in house. If you do so, make sure that all employees know your firm’s mission and support it. They should fully understand the firm’s USP. Give them guidance on how you want the firm to be viewed by clients, prospects, and other professionals. And then tell them they are all brand managers for the firm.
Whatever you decide, everything the members of the firm produce, say and do should reflect the brand.
SEE US AT PILMMA!
PILMMA, the Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing and Management Association, is holding its Spring 2011 Marketing and Management Summit in Atlanta on April 1-2 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel. Stop by and visit our booth!
Do you ever stop and take the time to ask yourself this question? What is your answer? Are you a father, mother, sister, brother, daughter, son, boss, attorney, husband, wife, friend? The answer to those questions unfortunately (because most of us can answer those questions quickly & easily) is not the answer to the question: Who Am I? They are the answers to the question: What Am I?
The importance of determining who we really are comes from the fact that we can’t be REALLY TRUE to OURSELVES, if we don’t REALLY KNOW WHO we are. I think that the key to answering this question and then to living our true and best lives comes from the reverse. It doesn’t come from asking and answering a question, but rather from how we live and how we treat others. I’m sure you are sitting there wondering what in the world this has to do with marketing your law firm, my answer: EVERYTHING! If you aren’t true to yourself, then you can’t be true to your “brand”. Your clients and your prospective clients will see right through it and will move on to another lawyer or will refer their family members and friends elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if you are the best plaintiff’s attorney in your DMA. It doesn’t matter if you have won the highest jury verdicts. If you aren’t true to yourself and true to your brand, clients won’t want to work with you, period.
So, it is crucial to determine who you REALLY are. I dare say that our identity isn’t usually so much based upon being a “role” in life as much as those roles in life shape who we are. Our roles as daughters and sons affect how we are as parents and bosses and managers. How we are raised impacts how we are as members of our communities. But, who we are is based upon how we live and how we treat others every day. So think about it. Are you kind and compassionate? Are you more rational and reserved? How do you approach someone in need? Are you jovial? Do you always have a smile and open arms or a shoulder to spare? Or, are you more the strong silent type? Do you jump right in or are you more cautious? There are no “right” or “wrong” “YOU”. There is only YOU. Be true to yourself. Clients, prospective clients, colleagues, family and friends will always respect you for being you. Your honesty and sincerity will shine through without your ever having to say a word. This will be your strongest and best branding research you’ll ever do. Once you determine who you really are, remain true to it in everything that you do, at work, at home, in your life. It will be the best branding and marketing and consistency of message you’ll ever have. You’ll never have confusion again about direction, consistency, or brand again.