• Transform magazine
  • June 26, 2019

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Insights: Fortune favours the brave

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The 2019 Transform Awards Europe will celebrate excellence in rebranding and brand development for the 10th year. Living Group is nominated for the awards

We appear to be living in mercurial times. What worked before no longer does and our appetite for fresh experiences is seemingly insatiable. Trends still pervade our daily lives and often dissipate as swiftly as they emerged but new methods in which we interact with our world are changing the paradigm of 21st century life. How people think and what they want from brands is more important than ever; this cannot be underestimated in a highly competitive brand landscape.

Working with professional services brands we’ve observed a sort of paralysis of conformity. Many clients promote the same values and personalities which results in homogeneity in corporate brand identity. Audiences have no real discernible choice and brands have no distinctly identifiable voice. Law firms in particular, typically display superficial differences in brand image and voice. Firms can still maintain a healthy balance sheet without a particularly engaging brand, but it only takes a bold move from one firm to capture the imagination of the legal landscape and seriously shift the balance of power.

There are barriers within firms that restrain them from standing out from the crowd. The partnership model means they need a solid consensus to enable change and, whether it's five or 250 people, it’s no mean feat to get them to agree to significant change. Lack of resource can also go against a brand effort. Firms often have small marketing and communications teams who are already inundated with the daily stream of work. Then there’s the big fear of what their clients will think.

We have strategies in place to help mitigate these issues. For instance, establishing steering committees to help guide the partners, deployment approaches, providing internal teams with all the assets and guidance they need to activate the new brand and on boarding processes that help the firm communicate why things have changed. But without a genuine internal enthusiasm for change, brands can find themselves regressing into safe and ineffective positions that blend into the sameness of the competitor landscape.

It takes a confident, unified vision to effect change. We encountered this in our recent relationship with Harneys. An offshore law firm, that back in 2017, had a brand identity that expressed nothing about its personality. Our research unearthed a culture that embraced innovative thinking, delivered in an unstuffy manner that was ‘un-lawyer-like’ in many ways.

Harneys was refreshingly upfront about its character and fully embraced the creative journey we took it on. We were pleased by the firm’s appetite for bolder, more personable illustrations, which put it in a truly distinctive brand position for a law firm. For us, the power behind this transformation was a firm culture that believed in being different and are comfortable in being seen as such.

We believe that organisations stand out not just because they want to be different, but because they are different. Brands that embrace their unique senses of self have the opportunity to capture imagination and inspire audiences to believe in them and with belief, comes the power to transform perceptions.

Andy Richards is the creative director of Living Group London

Places are still available for the 10th annual Transform Awards Europe. Click here to book your table.