2014 Winners: Identity – Projects Totaling More Than $20,000


First Place

K&L Gates LLP

"Launching K&L Gates Brand in Australia Through a Major Combination-Integrated Branding Campaign"


K&L Gates’ continued expansion is guided by its client-focused vision and belief that a fully integrated global platform best serves clients’ legal needs in today’s globalized marketplace. The firm responded to increased opportunities represented in a thriving economy, Australia, when it combined with the 300-lawyer firm Middletons on Jan. 1, 2013. The combination provided clients with service in Australia’s four most important markets, established K&L Gates as the largest fully integrated U.S.-based law firm in Asia Pacific, and extended its global footprint to a fifth continent.

K&L Gates - 1st Place

Four marketing challenges existed: introduce the K&L Gates brand in Australia; transfer the brand equity from Middletons into K&L Gates; demonstrate the business sense to client, legal and business audiences; and provide a seamless transition for Middletons’ lawyers and staff.

Because January is the height of Australia’s summer with much of the target business audience on holiday, the timing of the brand launch was complex. Marketing teams of both firms identified a staggered rollout strategy covering several months, instead of relying on a one-time large splash announcement. A multi-tiered brand execution was designed to generate awareness of the newest law firm brand in Australia. It included three waves of media outreach, and three tiers of advertising, supplemented with social media, client communications, website and internal communications and event marketing.

To maintain the equity of the well-respected Middletons firm, the creative for the paid media maintained the Middletons tag line of “Straight Talking.” At the same time, the modern, minimalist imagery of K&L Gates’ brand framed all launch marketing materials.

With an innovative decision to take control of the story and message prior to the combination, the firms jointly announced in August 2012 that they were in discussions, beginning a progression of media coverage. A second release confirmed the partner votes to combine, and a third wave of media activity followed when the firms combined on Jan. 1. Two hundred articles resulted in 450 media impressions.

The advertising campaign kicked off in February, targeting three critical audiences. Print, online and iPad advertising hit business audiences from February to May, with weekly ads in the Australian Financial Review, followed by full-spread and full-page ads titled “We’ve Gone Down Under” in Inside Counsel, The American Lawyer and Corporate Counsel. The third phase informed Asia Pacific business audiences that K&L Gates is now the largest U.S.-based law firm in the region in The Wall Street Journal, Asia edition.

Executed solely by the internal marketing teams of both firms, the success of K&L Gates’ brand launch in Australia was evidenced in widespread excitement and buzz expressed by key audiences — clients, lawyers and staff — as well as the continual vehicles that blanketed the marketplace in a five-month time frame. The onslaught of media coverage was uniformly positive, and the paid media built on the growing reputation for the firm brand in Australia.



Second Place

Phelps Dunbar LLP

"Putting the Third Coast First — Phelps Dunbar"


In the last 15 years, Phelps Dunbar has expanded across the Gulf Coast, opening additional offices in Mississippi, Florida, Alabama and Texas. The firm’s strategic plan has focused on showcasing its geographic presence, and the depth and breadth of legal experience so clients realize they need only one law firm for legal services throughout the Gulf region.

Phelps Dunbar - 2nd Place

To support this, as well as other growth in the Gulf region, the firm needed a positioning strategy and brand identity that would help distinguish Phelps Dunbar from others to current and potential clients, communicating a more memorable message to buyers of legal services. To do this, Phelps Dunbar worked with Right Hat LLC, a company that specializes in strategic consulting and branding for law firms, to develop a position strategy centered on the “Third Coast.”

Its new positioning statement — Putting the Third Coast First® — emphasizes the firm’s nationally recognized practice areas, office locations and that it is the right law firm for companies doing business in the Third Coast. The visual identity developed included a new firm flyer, proposal system, folders, reformatted biographies and practice descriptions, and PowerPoint templates among other pieces.



Third Place

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP

"Womble Carlyle Brand Refresh"


In 2013, Womble Carlyle’s Client Development Department launched an ambitious campaign to revise and redo all of the firm’s marketing materials, including printed brochures. Given that the firm consists of 550 attorneys practicing across 14 offices and in a wide range of practice areas, this project involved revising or recreating literally hundreds of documents.

Womble Carlyle - 3rd Place

The brand refresh campaign consisted of a number of elements, each designed to improve the level of service provided to firm clients, including:

  • An expanded, sophisticated color palette — The firm selected a new color palette that looks professional and inspires confidence, reliability, stability and trustworthiness. All six color choices working together elicit feelings of warmth and friendliness.
  • A new graphic design theme — Design elements depict connections that reflect the firm’s goal of building stronger and deeper relationships.
  • Leaner, tighter copy — Written text in printed pieces take a modular approach, which allows clients to find exactly what they need quickly and efficiently.
  • Vertical and horizontal lines with open circles — Circles highlight different headings and smaller circles indicate subsections. The design element is reminiscent of a subway or tube map; printed materials were designed to help people get where they need to be.
  • Striking, modern attorney photos — All attorney photos were replaced with high-quality pictures shot with the attorney in a standing position. Attorneys look more relaxed and comfortable in these photos, and they stand out from the pictures that competitors use.

This brand refresh extends to all aspects of the firm’s marketing and client development activities, including www.wcsr.com, Womble Carlyle’s email alerts and firm advertising. Refreshing the Womble Carlyle brand required months of frenzied brainstorming, careful planning and meticulous execution, but the end result was well worth it. Clients now have a more visually appealing, user-friendly channel for gaining valuable information about Womble Carlyle.