Your People Are Your Brand

I’m still working through some of the great ideas and information I took away from the Legal Marketing Association Conference in Denver last week. While I wasn’t able make all the sessions  (attending a conference a half a mile from your office is always trying), I enjoyed those I attended, including the opening session and panel.

During the panel, “branding” and the challenge of bringing lawyers “in line with” the firm brand was raised. This challenge is made more complex when attorneys are active in online communities. The conversation was interesting and I certainly empathize with the challenges law firms–especially large ones–face, but I couldn’t help but think the approach of trying to mold lawyers to fit the firm’s brand was bound to fail.

My first thought was that this was really a human resources issue–that your firm should be hiring people who already fit your mold. But that was immediately followed by my next thought: “How boring is a firm when every single attorney fits one standard mold?” And if you’re trying to appeal to a variety of clients, how can you really do that if clients can’t even tell the difference between Jane and John?

What if your brand were more general? “We hire great people and let them do great work.” And if Jane does jiu-jitsu in her spare time and John races motorcycles (and they talk about it–online or off), this humanizes them and differentiates them from the next people.

It follows that those activities would differentiate your organization from the next one, which means all of those little personality traits and interests have become a defining part of your brand, even if just for a certain segment of clients or customers.

It may be scary, but it’s also pretty powerful. Your people are your brand. So stop trying to define it and just let them work their magic.

From the Archives: EventVue, Twitter, Kevin O’Keefe and #ACLEA

I don’t have time to be writing this post right now. I should be packing up for my trip to the ACLEA (Association of Continuing Legal Education Administrators) Conference in Orlando tomorrow.

But yesterday I set our conference hashtag (#ACLEA) on the recently relaunched EventVue platform (if you’re going to or interested in the conference, be sure to check it out). And this reminded me of how great Twitter can be at events, which reminded me of a post I wrote in 2008 claiming that Twitter really hits its stride at events and conferences. I can’t find that post to save my life, but I did find this one, which happens to be even more relevant.

First, it’s the first write-up I ever did of EventVue (a company just down the road from me in Boulder) and I highlighted its Chatter function, which is now the focus of the relaunch I just mentioned.

Second, I talked about Twitter for legal conferences and yearned for the day we might get to put it to use:

I love the new features. Focusing on legal conferences, my first thought was that this would be a ways off for me. But then this from Kevin O’Keefe. If lawyers, perhaps the latest of the late-adopting crowd, are already starting to look to twitter as a serious business tool, we might not be as far off as I thought.

Finally (and this is the kicker), I got a comment from Kevin O’Keefe on lawyers and Twitter.  From Kevin:

Thanks for mentioning my take on Twitter Alli.
Though I think it’s going to take some time for a app like Twitter to make significant inroads in the legal field, I am seeing Twitter discussed more and more. Just this week at a Law Firm PR Conference in Chicago, Twitter came up on a number of occasions.

Why is all this relevant? Because Kevin will be the keynote speaker of a plenary topic on social media at the conference. And I’ll be part of the follow-up panel discussing this very topic with him.

Twitter is almost nothing like it was in May 2008 when I wrote this post. Sure, the interface has changed only slightly, but its population has exploded, which has made it harder to manage and build relationships–at least for me. But its massive growth and popularity is also the reason we’ll be talking about it this week and I can’t complain about that.

To those heading to Orlando, I’ll tweet (and see) you soon.