There is one thing that stops
most lawyers from generating
meaningful brands — their self-concept.
Lawyers who see themselves as
not unlike their peers may not have
fully nurtured, or even acknowledged, their own unique and valued difference. They may have
concluded that, within certain
areas of practice, law services are
pretty similar from firm to firm.
Self-concept isn’t necessarily
Try to think of a client, circumstance or challenge that puts
you in the zone where your energy
and interest peak and where it’s
not just about law anymore. It’s
about solving complex problems,
improving someone’s life, providing trusted insight, creating simplicity, delivering the truth when
it’s needed or simply communicating empathy. When you are in
the zone, you are setting the stage
for lifelong relationships.
You are also setting the stage
to create a meaningful brand.
Branding is a process. How far
you go with it will have as much
impact on the result as your commitment to any individual step.
Let’s take a closer look at four
major steps in this process:
knowing your own unique value,
unleashing and communicating
your vision and, finally, delivering on your promises.
Here’s a helpful exercise. If
you try to make a list of all your
professional strengths and interests, you might end up with as
many as 50 different qualities. It
may even be true that you have
strengths across the list. But can
you pick the one to three qualities
that put you in the zone? Are they
even on the list?
STEP 2 Unleash your vision
Lawyers who see
themselves as not
unlike their peers
may not have fully
nurtured, or even
their own unique and
Once you’ve carefully considered what gets you in the zone,
you can begin making decisions
that will enable you to build and
nurture those qualities and invite
What does committing to a
new concept of your professional
Depending on how meaningful, specific, different and entrepreneurial it is, such commitment could change everything
from vision and values to services, target audience, staffing and
marketing. A meaningful professional brand is intrinsically tied
to the firm’s strategic plan.
How will you know if your
vision is making an impact?
When your audience decides that
there’s no substitute for your
brand. You save them headaches,
contribute value, make them feel
better or even safe and, essentially, they trust you. They arrive
at a point where it is difficult, and
in some cases just about impossible, to replace you because they
STEP 1 Know yourself
are no longer just looking for a
lawyer. Their attachment to your
brand changed because your self-concept changed.
Getting to know your professional self involves dealing with a
wide spectrum of guarded behaviour. Even when we don’t hide
our truth completely, we bury it
so that it’s not the first thing
people learn about us.
The first and often biggest hurdle to developing a meaningful
brand, for lawyers and other professionals, is fear — fear of sharing
the whole truth about our professional selves, even with ourselves.
However, facilitating connection isn’t about sharing everything. It’s about focusing on your
core values in the sequence in
which they matter to you, beyond
the obvious biography details.
STEP 3 Communicate clearly
Have you ever noticed how
lawyers focused on the same area
of practice and audience profile
will latch onto one of several
commonly used marketing messages? We tend to share what we
think our audience wants to hear
and what we expect will keep the
most doors open to opportunity.
Carrying forward a big vision
isn’t complete, however, until
your visual identity is a true
reflection of your professional
self and vision. Becoming a
meaningful brand involves getting out of the sea of sameness.
If you know yourself and you’re
holding fast to your vision, this
third step in the branding process, clear expression, should be
entirely focused on the delivery.
You can facilitate this process by
taking these fundamental steps:
n;Learn how to evaluate and
work with a marketing professional. This relationship is
about fit and shared vision. It’s
also about skill and talent. Your
marketing professional’s role is
to extract and express the most
meaningful aspects of your
brand, in a manner that facilitates connections. Your role is
to decide whether or not it
rings true to you, at every stage
in the process.
n;Build consistency across your
marketing program. There is no
need to reinvent positioning
statements and graphics from
website to brochure to newsletter. Rather, these materials
need to build on each other, in a
manner that optimizes impact.
n;Balance the need to stay steadfast and true to your vision with a
nimble approach toward fine-tuning your brand, as appropriate, in response to new opportunities or changes in your business environment.
LES CUNLIFFE / DREAMSTIME.COM
factor influencing your clients’
experience is you. You can extend
that influence by way of your
team with an internal aspect to
your branding strategy:
n;Hire people who share your
n;Don’t underestimate the essential role that everyone plays in
achieving this vision, from the
way calls are answered and meetings are booked to the way that
information is shared. Take the
time to build your brand internally by sharing your plans,
inviting input and noticing when
someone gets it just right.
n;Don’t assume that you will get
the results you want from your
team, your processes or your systems. Develop a training program to ensure that you do.
Becoming a meaningful brand
is a process. It accounts for making, expressing and delivering
promises aligned with your
vision, your values and the way
that you wish to practice.
The point of branding isn’t to
come up with snazzy logos or
taglines that roll off your tongue,
unless they are grounded in
Furthermore, while such
vision may already have a place
in your law practice, it may need
some coaxing or guidance to
shift your professional identity.
This process not only begins
with, but also is dependent on,
an honest, and often courageous,
How far down the road has
your brand travelled? Are you
ready to take the next step? n
STEP 4 Deliver on your promise
A meaningful brand is a promise that doesn’t take breaks. It
continues to deliver, always.
The single most important
Sandra Bekhor, MBA, B.Sc. physiology, B.Sc. architecture, is
president of Bekhor Management.
The firm provides marketing,
branding and strategic planning
services responsive to the business
of professional practice. It focuses
on enabling Canadian professionals to achieve the vision for
their practice by leveraging
existing, authentic strengths. She
can be reached at sandrabekhor@
bekhor.ca or at 416-969-9600. For
further information, please visit
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