Sunday, August 22, 2010

Branding (and Why You May Not Want to Do It)

Branding is a marketing craze that I thought had run its course, particularly among smaller, cash-conscious law firms that can’t justify the cost of etching their name, logo or tag line into their prospects’ temporal lobes.

Nonetheless, twice in the last month, “branding” came from out of left field during my meetings with attorneys. The first time, the perpetrator was part of the lunatic fringe and was brushed off by his level-headed colleagues. But when, in the second instance, launching a branding campaign started to gain traction, I had to restore order.

“Let me ask you this. In the last month, how many of you have booked at least one marketing lunch or meeting with a client, prospect or referral source?”

One hand went up. I asked its owner, “How many did you book?”

“Seven or eight.”

“OK,” I said to the group, “here’s what I think. A branding campaign won’t help ‘Dwight’ here, because he’s in the game and doesn’t need the help. And it won’t help the rest of you, because you’re not in the game. Plus, it’s expensive.”

Many years ago, I developed this principle: Things that cost a lot generally don’t work, and things that work generally don’t cost a lot. Sadly, most law firms waste a lot of money in the name of marketing to make up for the lack of real marketing by their attorneys.

By your behavior and action, “brand” yourself as an attorney or firm that is friendly, engaged, committed, responsive and skilled and that adds value to clients. That’s branding that works.

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