Branding in professionals services has moved forward in leaps and bounds in the last 20 years, but still there continues to be much soul searching. Why do the leading law firms still all look the same?
Kevin Wheeler, a respected and long-term legal commentator, rightly argues that the strongest law firm brands have evolved over decades, rather than having been created by the clever branding consultants.
Mergers will come and go, logos will change, firms might even flirt with different colours, but in most cases it is the dominant brand that remains and carries the journey forward.
Unlike consumer brands, corporate comms and PR plays a very small role in shaping a legal brand. Yes, it will help sharpen up the edges, and reinforce the brand traits, but at the end of the day those that really shape that brand are the individual lawyers themselves.
The advice they give, how it is delivered, and how the treat their staff - those are the components of a strong legal brand.
And with most law firms a diverse collection of practices, well that is the challenge for those branding pros.
In my experience, the strongest law firm brands have evolved, often over decades, rather than as a result of some top-down, centrally-imposed, overnight branding exercise. In the past, many law firms have attempted to rebrand by just changing their image, usually by changing their logo and corporate design styles, and of course this does nothing to enhance the brand or the fortunes of the business, as fundamentally there is no change to the brand offering.