Legal Business

Law Firm Branding: Hocus Pocus or Results?

Baker McKenzie beat Skadden in gross revenues in the 2010 AmLaw 200 list taking over the top spot for the first time since 1994. That's a big deal, I guess.

Ben Hallman writes in "Behind the Numbers: A Change at the Top", (The American Lawyer, April 19,2010) that Baker McKenzie, the largest U.S. based law firm with nearly 4,000 lawyers in 39 countries, although #1 in gross revenues took a hit in profits per partner-now falling just below the 1 mil mark. Probably a bigger deal, I guess, because the firm has cut staff and lawyers significantly in order to get that number back where it belongs. (Author acknowledges this is a big deal to those people and sincerely feels their pain.)

But, most interesting to me, in writing this post about branding, are the brief comments in Hallman's article where Baker McKenzie Chairman, John Conroy, Jr. attributes some of their success to a "rigorous branding analysis."

Hallman writes:

"Still, surpassing Skadden to lead The Am Law 200 is a notable accomplishment. Conroy credits his firm's success to a "rigorous branding analysis" that led to an office-by-office and practice-by-practice review."

Says Conroy of their numbers:

"The result reflects the client response to our efforts. We've made a real effort to implement our strategy [emphasis added] as relentlessly as possible. It always helps when financial results vindicate our work."

Corporate Actualization.

Baker McKenzie recently took home the prestigious top prize in the Identity Category at The Legal Marketing Association's 2010 Your Honor Awards. Indeed their new brand was a visually well executed entry, however, if I'm reading Conroy's comment correctly it wasn't the visual results that made the re-branding most valuable to the firm and its clients, it was the process-the rigorous branding analysis-and the outcome of that exercise that enabled them to re-connect with clients and ultimately drive their revenues. A lesson for anyone in the throes of re-branding...your comments welcome.

The re-branding helped the firm to focus on their potential- we can assume -and to assess and draw up a strategy to meet what their clients' value most in the delivery and execution of their services. We may also assume that "an office-by-office and practice-by-practice review" was essential for all professionals in the firm to get on the same page.

In this author's opinion, therein lies the essential value of branding. Only after that hard work of self-analysis-who we are and what our clients' value-is done can a firm focus on brand communications such as websites, social media interaction, and content offerings. This is not a task for the weak of mind or self-centered, egoist entity.

Communicating your brand.

Once the brand is actualized, the words and visuals should combine to tell your true story, connect with the audience and evoke a response. It takes all that to be successful. If your brand-who you are-resonates with the client, it won't be hard.

To read more, visit the Virtual Marketing Officer Blog.