Legal Business Blogs

Brand capital can drive your law firm’s growth

There remains a tendency for law firms to treat ‘branding’ as a one-off initiative, which they look at, on average, every eight years. Sadly, this often results in a great deal of wasted time and money, and consequently a great deal of frustration.

Is this to suggest there is little or no value in branding? Far from it. It’s merely that the approach is flawed and leadership teams need a better understanding of how to gain maximum value and momentum.

A better starting point is to think of brand as an asset, rather than a cost, that you need to invest in, manage, and nurture. After all, your brand capital has the potential to be at the very heart of your future success.

Put simply, law firms with high brand capital will outperform the market. However, the challenge is getting equity partners to take a long view, because brand building is a long-term strategic endeavour.

Building brand capital takes significant time, effort and discipline. And, if we’re being honest, there will be some things that businesses of all shapes and sizes believe are more critical to address than brand. That, dare we say it, is a view that is at odds with the research.

There is robust evidence from multiple long-term brand tracking indices to show strong brands generate superior shareholder returns, are more resilient in a crisis and recover more quickly from economic downturns. For example, Kantar’s latest BrandZ report shows that despite the global turbulence of the last three years, the top 100 most valuable brands have grown from $5trn in 2020 to $6.9trn in 2023.

Moreover, successful brand building is as much about business transformation as it is about identity change. In fact, the best rebranding initiatives use an identity change as a catalyst to drive business transformation. Real success is achieved when that transformation results in a realignment of the business and everyone can see a straight line running from the core purpose through the business strategy and brand positioning to the brand identity and ultimately the brand experience that impacts the customer.

To win the partnership over requires elevating the brand discussion to a strategic level and making the case to invest in building an enduring competitive brand advantage that will deliver far greater returns than short term tactical marketing activity. Against a backdrop of strong economic headwinds, the argument may be a tough one, but it has never been more important.

Law firms with strong corporate brands can use their brand capital to recruit and retain talented lawyers, mobilise clients and bring influence to bear to achieve their corporate goals. As we witnessed with the financial crash and the global pandemic, companies with strong brands continued to perform better and bounced back faster. As we enter a period of sustained VUCU – Volatility, Complexity, Ambiguity and Anxiety – we can again expect to see law firms who have invested in building their brand capital fare better.

Which is why we decided that now was the perfect time to launch a new type of brand survey.

As many readers will be aware, there are already a number of brand league tables produced annually. However, they don’t take a holistic view of brand. We wanted to take a 360 degree view of law firm brands, taking into account the opinions of general counsel and in-house lawyers as well as the views of professionals working in private practice and graduates seeking to enter the profession. In particular, we thought it would be interesting to look at both the employer brand and customer brand which we see as two sides of the same coin.

By Sholto Lindsay-Smith, Director at Industry, An international brand consultancy

Take the 5-minute survey to receive an exclusive insight report offering a comprehensive 360-degree view of law firm brands.