Pop quiz: Name a new client you’d like to acquire. Without a referral, would a cold call have more than a snowball’s chance in hell? If the answer is “no”, read on for a power boost.
Self-sabotage. For all the great expectations placed on law firm marketing, it’s notable how many firms have feeble brand identities. It’s the most common form of self-sabotage in the legal industry, and the simplest to fix.
“I didn’t go to law school to be a salesman.” (Actual quote). Most lawyers secretly dread promoting themselves and who can blame them when it’s difficult to differentiate one firm from another. Hence the appeal of a law firm marketing department: the responsibility to bring in new business is offloaded onto their shoulders.
But marketing isn’t magic. Virtually every law firm says it’s innovative! creative! strategic!, tired words drained of impact through overuse, often accompanied by dramatic photos of lightbulbs or chess pieces. Law firm marketing often meanders around cliches and employs puffery to try to obscure the fact that the firm has found no meaningful way to distinguish itself to prospective clients.
Confidence buster. Without the strong foundation of a power logo and coherent brand system, law firm marketing efforts fragment into busywork, and coaching is undermined. A poor firm image chips away confidence, like wearing shabby clothes to a job interview.
Shut up and show it. Displaying a unique mindset with a power logo is a primal, nonverbal statement. That’s far more memorable than breathless PR blather.
How does a power logo work? Two ways: internally and externally. A power logo motivates your internal audience (partners, associates, staff) and grabs the attention of your external audience (current clients and prospects). Both functions are needed for effective new business development.
Visual characteristics. The brain registers color and shape before meaning, so those two attributes are the key to a memorable brand identity mark. Power logos have heft, as in, a strong form-to-void ratio. Color is commanding. Power logos don’t look silly, fussy, cautious or weird. Confidence is the dominant impression. There’s a reason team symbols and military flags aren’t shy either: visual punch is needed both to rally the team and intimidate the opponent.
Entitativity research. For scientific support, there’s a lot of literature on the effect of identity symbols on “entitativity”, the social psychology term for group cohesion. Group identity symbols like logos and flags increase the perceived “belongingness” of groups, even those comprised of disparate members. There’s a pressing need to promote team identification in many firms, since lawyers are by nature independent and individualistic and practice groups often become islands of talent that keep to themselves. A power logo can change the internal dynamics of a firm and galvanize shareholders to work together toward shared goals.
Devil’s advocate. But, you may ask, when a respected Biglaw firm is visually dull and rakes in billings nonetheless, does a logo really matter? If you’re interested in maximizing potential then actually, yes it does. Success is not eternally guaranteed, even (and maybe especially) for the big firms. An outdated image tips off deeper weakness: a lack of leadership’s commitment to continuous improvement. Internally, there’s also the matter of loyalty. A visual team identity can be a powerful force keeping talented rainmakers from leaving and taking their profit party elsewhere. People are proud to belong to a winning team.
Suit up. Simply put, a power logo is a new suit for your firm. It signals confidence and originality to prospective clients. A small firm can look bigger. A big firm can look agile. A power logo offers the potential to write the dramatic new story of your future.