Your Firm’s People are the Biggest Opportunities to Be Creative

Every time I hear about a law firm trying to “maintain its professional brand” I become a little confused.

Because in professional services, your people ARE your brand.

Professional Brand for Law Firms

Colours, Logos, Fonts and Letterhead – Within Reason

Firms are constantly prattling on about innovation these days, but are missing the sheer amount of awesome they already have inside their doors.

Traditionally these things are what people think of when they think of “brand”.

The Nike “swoosh” with a bit of “just do it” attached.

The red Coca Cola label with some fun in the sun.

To be fair, I'm not against consistency in form.  To avoid looking schizophrenic, I accept that a law firm should probably have a series of basic rules that its staff should follow when communicating with the outside world. That should include the same colours, logos and basic layouts of your stuff.

Unfortunately, some firms take their brand protection methods to the extreme, and rather than end up with some sensible guidelines about communication they end up basically trying to remove parts of people's personalities.

Here's the thing: professional services like law aren't the same as product sales.

And that's where lawyers need to appreciate that a pathological focus on making everybody in their firm speak, write and act the same is ultimately damaging.

Service is about Relationship

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Take a look around – where does your work come from?

Did somebody wander in to your firm because your logo had their favourite shade of green/blue/greeny-blue?

Do your biggest clients stay with you because they like that you use Verdana instead of Courier New?*

*don't use Courier New.

No.

Ultimately those clients exist because somebody went to the trouble of forming a close relationship with the right people.

A personal relationship.

Sure, it's possible that the firm's reputation or its professional look got you through the door.

But in a world where a professional look can be inexpensively obtained, you need to be aiming for something more.

Your Brands Are your People – and People are Creative

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If your firm has people, then you have an opportunity to get creative.

Not by trying to make everyone conform to a predetermined image – but by capitalising on the many brands your firm already has available to it.

What if, instead of fighting with staff constantly trying to get them to do what you've decided was best, you just empowered them to take their existing characteristics and use those to the firm's benefit?

Perhaps Joe doesn't like football but excels at chess.  How about rather than blowing the entire firm's marketing budget on the corporate box at the footy, you throw Joe a few bucks chance to leverage his connections and his passion as part of his firm?

If Mary is the world's greatest legal origami-maker (origami-ist?) then why not have her do a series of legal videos while folding origami instead of yet another boring set of talking head videos in a sterile boardroom?

Firms are constantly prattling on about innovation these days, but are missing the sheer amount of awesome they already have inside their doors.

“We want to innovate” simply cannot be followed by “let's post another boring article on LinkedIn AND Twitter this time”.

Innovation begins at home – your people are your lowest hanging fruit.

Don't Waste your Opportunities

Firms are constantly wasting the opportunities that exist in their staff, and it's simply because the firm doesn't empower its people.

Change your mindset – and look to the amazing talents, characters and hobbies you have inside your firm.

If you have hired people of character, then they would LOVE to use their talents to the firm's benefit. They probably just haven't thought of how, and think (rightly, in many cases) that the partners aren't interested.

Show them how.

And reap the rewards.

Happy Lawyering!

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