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.