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A New Take on Branding

Branding has almost been talked to death. I worry about even bringing it up, but I'm going to feel the fear and do it anyway, because it might help you.

While professional service firms have, indeed, discussed branding ad nauseum, I'd like to pose a slightly different perspective on it. After many years of watching some firms brand well and others do it poorly, I have reached the conclusion that it is as much an internal function, a statement about the firm's cohesiveness as a group or a team, as it is an external function.

It is certainly important for your clients, prospects, and referral sources to see a consistent image and have similar good experiences with all your firm's members, from the managing partner to the receptionist. That is the external part of branding.

But effective branding also means that you view yourselves, internally, as a cohesive group; that you agree on "the big stuff"; that you can reach consensus on what is good for the firm as a whole versus what is good only for individuals. Branding plays a part in determining whether you are really a firm or merely individuals sharing an elevator.

Until recently, I felt that consistent letterhead, business cards, email signatures and the like were important, but were not really a hill worth dying on. I'm moving away from that view somewhat as I understand how a firm's ability to put a cohesive package together may very well reflect its ability to do other, perhaps more important, things as a team.

© Melinda Guillemette 2009