The same holds true for your firm. You’ve built a relationship with your clients, and your brand means something to them. That can be a valuable competitive advantage, but in certain circumstances, your brand may be holding you back. If that’s the case, it’s time to look at strategic rebranding.
Rebranding is more than redesigning your logo or website — it is a total makeover of your firm’s public persona. It can be expensive and complicated. So how do you know when it’s time?
Here are some of key business indicators that can help you decide if it’s time to consider rebranding.
1. Your firm name has changed.
During a firm name change, you are already going to incur the expense of updating materials, including online assets, stationery and printed materials, office signs and more. As such, it is the perfect opportunity to conduct a brand audit. Many firms include their partners’ initials or names in their firm's brand, so it is more than likely that a name change will cause a complete rebrand. The trend to shorten the firm name makes it easier to build brand recognition.
2. Your firm’s brand is old or outdated versus your competitors.
When people talk about branding, a firm’s logo is the usually first thing that comes to mind. Branding, however, goes much deeper. It’s the voice of your website, press releases and social media interactions. It’s your office décor. It’s the way your employees, from the receptionist to the partners, interact with clients. It’s your firm culture. As the first impression of your firm is formed, your logo is still one of the most important aspects of your firm’s brand, and it’s easy for the aesthetics to become dated.
With the proliferation of the internet and social media sites, it’s much easier for potential clients to view and learn about your firm and your competitors without ever stepping foot in an office or speaking with an associate. This has resulted in many law firms reevaluating their brands in order to stand out more prominently when they are conveyed over these new media channels.
3. Your firm has changed significantly.
Firms usually evolve over time, and often these evolutions require a fresh branding effort. Whether it is through new practice areas, new partners, new locations or even a change in your business model, any major change in your firm’s operations may require you to evaluate whether your current brand accurately represents your firm’s services and philosophy.
If your general practice firm acquires an IP boutique firm, will your brand attract new clients to this practice? What if your Chicago firm opens a new office in Houston? Will your brand convey the same message to both locations? As your firm grows and changes, your brand may need to be refreshed to keep one cohesive image.
4. Your brand isn’t compatible with your firm’s identity.
Your brand should give clients an idea of what to expect when they interact with you. If you have a modern and inviting persona online, but all of your printed materials are traditional and serious, you will confuse your potential clients.
Every part of your firm’s brand, from your color scheme to your messaging, should be consistent with your firm’s culture and identity. For example, does your logo reflect your firm’s message and identity? If it doesn’t, it might be time to rebrand.
5. You want to appeal to a new client base.
When entering new markets, your firm needs to assess whether your current brand will reach the correct audience and stand out competitively. Perhaps your firm is now targeting clients in a new region or country. Maybe your firm’s clients were typically individuals, but now the firm is trying to attract corporate clients. If such changes in your firm’s target client base occur, then it may be time to consider rebranding.
6. Customers have developed a negative association with your brand.
Typically, a long-standing brand is an advantage because of name recognition. But if your firm has been associated with a negative incident, it may prove too hard to overcome. The most obvious example is a when a firm experiences a major PR problem or controversy, though sometimes smaller missteps can lead clients to view your firm in a negative way.
Changing your firm name or at least the look and feel of your brand can reduce the association and allow the negative event to fade.
7. Your revenue growth has diminished.
If your firm has experienced stagnant growth or decreased profits over 24 to 48 months, a new brand can breathe new life into your business. With the right buzz surrounding it, a successful rebranding initiative should help generate new leads.
If your firm has experienced any of the above, it’s time to take a closer look at your brand to determine if it is an asset or a liability. If your firm isn’t prepared for a total rebrand, consider making strategic tweaks as part of your daily operations to gradually reposition your firm in the market.