The Times Law today in its daily email newsletter The Brief sums up perfectly the challenges facing branding in professional services - it is simply not understood.
The Times likens law firm branding to the heady days of cowboys and then to glitzy handbags.
To have had such a conversation 25 years ago, when marketing teams were affectionally called the 'colouring-in department' might have been forgivable. But in 2018, when law firms spend vast sums of money on very clever marketing and business development programmes is, well quite frankly, depressing.
In no other industry would such a conversation ever happen.
Thankfully, law firm partners are largely more understanding of the importance and value of a good brand.
That is because, as we all know, branding has little to do with the letter head or logo - it is the sum of what you do and what is said about you, and that influences buying behaviours.
Remember the days when the word “brand” conjured images of weather-beaten cowboys scorching the flesh of newly born calves with the squiggly initials of their ranch name? Nor do we really, but we can recall growing up in an era when the telly was replete with Hollywood westerns of a wet Saturday afternoon. The definition of the word moved on, of course, to refer to global products such as fizzy drinks and handbags. Now it is even applied to legal practices, which not so long ago were simply known by a list of the partners’ names. In the modern law firm world, branding is important. Not least to an outfit called Acritas, a transatlantic consultancy that expends a lot of energy purporting to establish which law firm brand is king.