By Peter Boyd, Florida attorney who founded PaperStreet. He has helped over 1,500 law firms with their websites, content and marketing.
Every great project starts with information gathering. When you hire a marketing company to complete a task for you, it can only do a good job if it knows important details about your business. What are your goals? Why are you in the marketplace? What are your pain points?
You would be surprised how many businesses exist in the marketplace without clear answers to these questions. Lawyers are, after all, lawyers — not trained businesspeople, and definitely not trained marketers.
Whether you are embarking on a new project that is forcing you to look at your brand through a different lens or just starting out and defining your space in the marketplace, these questions can help you look at your brand from a different perspective. Sometimes that’s all you need to find easy answers to tough questions.
After decades in the business, I’ve developed some default questions that can help you view your brand from a different perspective.
If your business was a car, what make and model would it be and why?
Silly? Yes. Effective? Definitely. The reputations of automobiles are generally a shared experience between consumers. When you consider your brand through these relatable brands, it is easy to find similarities and differences. There is a big difference between a Honda and a Tesla. Is your business dependable and resilient like a Honda? Are your values innovative like a Tesla?
If your business was a restaurant, what would it be and why?
Similar to the question above, using brands that your team is familiar with can help you define important aspects that define your brand. Consider that it might be easier to define what you are not than what you are. This can be just as effective in your quest for brand definition.
How do you solve your problems differently than your competition?
Every law firm in the country is aggressive and client-focused. Every businessperson is friendly and responsive. When you are seeking to define your brand, think beyond these “simple” adjectives. You may be client-focused, but why are you client-focused? There has to be something different about your business structure, process or even story that separates you from the hundreds of others providing the same service.
What is your definition of success?
Success looks different to each person. If you ask your employees what makes your company successful, they would likely give you very different answers than your board members. Consider how people in different positions at your business would answer this question, and use those statements in your brand brainstorming.
What are your threats in the marketplace?
A productive question when asked in the context of marketing goals and growth opportunities, considering the threats your industry or competition creates can help you implement processes, policies and procedures to counteract them. These strategies very well may play an important role in deciding the values of your brand.
Think big, and then drill down and set a brainstorming meeting.
To put these recommendations into action, schedule a meeting with your key decision-makers, your marketing team, and at least one person from every section or position within your firm (a partner, lawyer, paralegal, and assistant or secretary). Prior to the meeting, ask the attendees to answer these questions above in writing. It’s important that everyone do this prior to your brainstorming meeting. In the presence of a group, everyone tends to agree with the most senior voice, and you are likely to get more of the same opinion rather than generating raw and unique ideas. When you come together, you can review your answers and determine any commonalities.
Answering these questions isn’t easy. You will likely have different opinions and perhaps even completely different answers from the people sitting across from you at the same table. Each opinion is valuable and can help you determine important keywords and values that will eventually unfold themselves into a clear and recognizable brand.