Beyond the Logo: Branding as a Competitive Strategy

Presentation Review: "Beyond the Logo: Branding as a Competitive Strategy" by Paul Darwish, Chief Business Development Officer and Director of Marketing, Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP, Chantal Sheaffer, Director of Marketing and Business Development, Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A., and moderated by Sally J. Schmidt, President, Schmidt Marketing, Inc.

Summary by Delisi Friday, Marketing Director, Cowen | Rodriguez | Peacock

This year at the LMA Annual Conference, “Beyond the Logo: Branding as a Competitive Strategy” was a presentation I not only wanted to see, I needed it more than ever. As a Marketing Director currently spearheading a new firm re-branding and name, this topic wasn’t calling me – it was screaming my name.

Moderated by Sally Schmidt of Schmidt Marketing, with speakers Chantal Sheaffer of Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, and Paul Darwish of Graydon, we learned from actual examples of each speaker’s recent branding journey.

Beginning with the definition of “brand” and “brand positioning,” moderator Sally Schmidt reminded us of the purpose of branding and brand positioning. A brand is promises and perceptions that you want people to believe and feel about the firm and its services. Brand positioning is what the firm stands for in the minds of clients relative to the competition.

When you think of a brand you think of the name, logo, colors, and tagline. These were the exact items I had covered in my re-branding. But what we often forget, and what became my “aha moment,” was services, behavior, space, communications, partnership, events/activities. These are the ways to incorporate your brand into all aspects of the firm in a competitive strategic manner.

Paul Darwish began by sharing his essence of the firm brand – being “connectors.” Understanding and accepting, jokingly I might add, that lawyers tend to be trusted less and hated more, he wanted to break this negative stereotype. The branding topics broke down as follows:

  • Business Cards– Using the new logo and color scheme, Graydon business cards now included a signature (first name only) on the back of the card. This became a talking point when business cards were handed out and made each card unique.
  • Website – In an effort to highlight their clients more, the website added photos and quotes from their clients on the homepage. Then the attorney bios were completely revamped. Each attorney had “My Story” and “My Bio.” After having each attorney work with a photographer to capture moments engaged with family, or active in a hobby, the bio photos were replaced with images much more personalized and engaging. Under “My Story” the bio was replaced with a personal story about each attorney, including details about their family, hobbies, and passions outside the firm. “My Bio” remained your standard attorney bio for those who still prefer it.
  • Space– An office move allowed Graydon to incorporate the brand into the office. Walls were painted in the blue and green firm colors. Furniture changed to a much more modern look and feel, along with the artwork. Even the area for employees to eat was considered, with bright colored chairs in the firm’s green color, and enough open and useable space for company events to be held.

Chantal Sheaffer shared her experience with branding by starting with their brand promise “putting clients first,” considered how they deliver on it, and analyzed the client experience. In order to start she began with a client survey, reviewed what was done well, and began identifying where there could be improvement. Here are the areas where she utilized branding:

  • Office– The client survey uncovered a need for better firm signage and directions. While the office had one address, the parking deck for clients to park was a different address. When clients entered the building there was also confusion as to which elevator bank to use. And once clients entered the lobby there was an opportunity to enhance their experience. With better parking signage, elevator bank signage, standard directions provided by staff, updated art in the office (yes – people comment on this) and mobile chargers with beverages in the conference room, clients had a much smoother experience when arriving to the office.
  • Billing– Also in the client survey, was feedback regarding billing. Based on survey responses it became apparent that there was additional training on billing topics to address, and an opportunity to thank clients for their business. The latter can sometimes be overlooked, but when working on your client’s experience with your firm it is equally important.
  • Overall client experience– Simply sending out a client survey was helpful in working towards an excellent client experience. Many clients thanked the firm for even asking for feedback. And once their feedback resulted in changes, clients were happy and felt like their opinion mattered.

To conclude, Sally Schmidt reminded the group how we can “live the brand in the practice group and office level.” Consistency and the experience clients will receive is a part of building your brand. If branding is all about making connections, then what is your firm doing to make those connections and then sustain them? And in order to be consistent with your brand be sure to survey your clients after their matter has been resolved. Use this feedback to ensure your brand is constantly lived not only in the name, or the firm colors, or tagline, but in your office and throughout your firm.

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