In the last column of this series, “Going Corporate,” by my partner Fred Lautz, we talked about the need for law firms to act more like their corporate clients, now that they operate in a competitive environment not unlike that of their clients. Sooner or later, following through on that imperative will lead us to the higher-level functions of marketing, such as branding. This topic has perplexed and challenged the best of businesses through the years, not only because it can be so difficult to build a brand but because so many individuals and organizations don’t understand even the basic concepts.
Some people think a great logo constitutes a successful brand. Others think it’s a catchy slogan. Nearly everyone thinks branding is about creating a “differentiated position” in the marketplace. The trouble is, they’re all right, and they’re all wrong, all at the same time. That’s because we use the terms “brand” and “branding” to mean a lot of things, and we often use them interchangeably, and we sometimes assume they mean things they don’t.