Allie Johns, director of branding consultancy that is – and partner of the new BCL Legal ‘Brand in a Box’ service for law firms - on why your brand should be at the heart of your business development strategy...

Your brand should sit right at the very heart of your business development strategy. Why? Because it’s your brand confidence, relevance and engagement, that will help to improve the connection with your clients and support your business objectives.

A confident, engaging and relevant brand is what your partners, associates and executives need too. Not least because almost every law practitioner these days is required to be a ‘fee earner’, as competition for legal services intensifies, particularly with the advent of ‘supermarket law’. Simply put, it’s always easier to promote something you not only believe in but are really proud to be part of.

No longer is it sufficient for law firms to ‘follow the rest’ and blend in as one homogenous sector. Neither is it about sitting back and waiting for the next client to ring or email. Okay so you may not have the budget to shout at people on daytime TV! But you do have it in your power to look closely at the brand you’ve established and to ensure that it’s working as hard as it possibly can for you.

Effective branding isn’t about a logo or a website. It’s about differentiation, the way you look, feel and sound and how you get your message out there. Private and commercial clients alike find the legal world daunting and are often sceptical of the quality and level of service they think they’re going to receive. So your challenge is not only to define and reach your target audiences but also to make sure they can relate to what they see or hear when they meet you, go online or pick up something in print about you.

Your brand needs to be authentic, relevant and yes why not creative? Just because you provide legal services, doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t be creative with your brand communications. Remember, the ‘new consumer’ is more digitally capable than ever before and is ever-demanding in the sense of ‘I need to find the right service from someone I will like working with now!’ The ‘new consumer’ therefore, is more likely to engage with brands they feel are like them - and that applies to professional service brands too!

And where business development is concerned, your brand should absolutely be the platform from which to grow your business from existing as well as new clients.

A team who understands the brand they’re representing, from its core vision and values to its business aspirations and who are supported by the right mix of brand communications, will feel empowered to help develop the client base. Similarly, customers who understand your brand and have a positive initial experience will be more likely to buy into it.

All this is possible if you can hand on heart say that you have a clear vision for your brand and everyone on the team has bought in and understands it. You should stand out in your marketplace visually, verbally and with clearly defined benefits and services. Be confident and connect with your customers in every relevant way. And make sure staff and stakeholders understand the impact branding has on the business, particularly in terms of targeted lead generation.

Embracing your brand in this way, as an integral part of your business development strategy will strengthen your offer externally and positively influence how you all feel about it internally. Importantly you’ll also be able to demonstrate the value of your brand in terms of the impact on your overarching business objectives.

Developed by that is… ‘Brand-in-a-Box’ is a strategic service to explore, define and differentiate your brand, and to create a platform that will facilitate future brand communications and business development activity.