Creative Differences: Three ways to distinguish your brand when it is not that different from your competitors.By Joe Walsh
December 13, 2017
We recently learned about the rebranding/new website efforts of two great law firms from two different sources. One was featured at an LMA regional event, another was profiled in the legal trades. The two are shown below:
Both websites are impressive, device agnostic, rich with content and feature sharp professional bios. The sites are easy-to-use and have a modern, pleasing aesthetic. Each firm is also a leader in their fields with communications becoming of leadership. Bottom line, they are very high quality.
They and many other sites also reflect a broader challenge we see in dozens of larger law, accounting and consulting firms where discernible differentiation can be so hard to achieve (See Site Visits Here). Professional service firms do not face this challenge alone. Think of a BMW and Mercedes sedan. Since I drive an old Jeep Wrangler, I’m not an expert in either of the sedan brands. To me, they both appear to be beautiful and functional and reliable, with similar pricing and performance. There are only a few degrees of difference between them.
Brand differentiation with messaging and design.
If differentiation is your goal, it can be achieved with strategic messaging allied with
As examples, here are three firms with creative differences:
1. Design distinction: Vedder Price
The Chicago, DC, London, San Francisco
2. Messaging/thematic distinction: Dorsey
Dorsey is another great, full-service firm with international reach and credentials. Taking its lead from a strategic plan, the Dorsey brand positions the firm as a source of competitive advantage for its clients, and is anchored by the tagline “always ahead.” The firm considers the line to be a service mantra. The notion expressed in all the firm’s communications is simple: Dorsey helps clients stay ahead of schedule, the curve, the problem, the pack and more. On the web and in all communications (like the ag-business pitchbook cover above right), strong headlines build off the “always ahead” theme and flip communications from about the firm to about the market. Click here if you'd like to see more.
3. Client-facing distinction: Schwabe
Research consistently proves potential buyers of professional services wear their industry hats. What do you know about my industry, its vocabulary, challenges, trends
Again, we understand that sometimes differentiation is not a firm’s goal. We also recognize that creative differences, even the best messaging and design, can be viewed as superficial. Yet Andy Warhol famously said (a quote often shared on this blog and in our presentations): “I may be superficial, but I’m deeply superficial.”