Individual and Firm Brands Are Not Mutually Exclusive

In a couple of posts back in 2009, I talked about the importance of a personal brand, as well as its relation to the firm's brand. Both are important, but the personal brand is more critical since clients hire lawyers in most cases, not the law firm.

In this month's issue of Law Practice Today, personal branding was the theme, and one article by Jonathan Fitzgarrald caught my attention because it also addressed the interrelationship between the two. Specifically, how a bad personal brand can impact the firm's. And, if taken a step further, could have an effect on one's employment longevity. As someone wrote recently in a somewhat different context, but apropos, "you might want to buy a new pair of shoes, because there's pavement in your future."

Fitzgarrald suggested some "brand builders" that might help with yours:

  • Take your appearance seriously. You may think you can dazzle potential clients with your brain power alone, but not so if the prospect is hung up on how you look;
  • Keep your message "simple and concise," (starting with a fine-tuned elevator speech) that conveys how you will "add value to the prospect's business;"
  • Relate to your listener in a personal way by bringing your personality to the table (not just a dry "lifeless" recitation of your background) and listen more;
  • Focus on providing great client service. Remember that maintaining existing client relationships (or defensive marketing) is just as important as developing new business (with some practice area exceptions, of course). So, spend non-billable time adding value to your client service; and
  • Monitor your brand by seeking feedback from clients and referral sources (e.g., how would they describe you to a stranger), and yes, even from your support staff and peers.

Obviously, your personal brand is very important to your success. It can also impact your relationship with your firm, particularly if they are out of sync.

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