• Transform magazine
  • September 25, 2020


Insights: Fortune favours the brave


At the 2018 Transform Awards North America, the best in rebranding and brand development was celebrated. Living Group was one of the winners

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 service brands we’ve observed a sort of paralysis of conformity. Many clients promote the same values and personalities which results in homogeny 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. Of course 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 of course barriers in firms that restrain them from standing out from the crowd. Being a partnership means they need a solid consensus to enable change and as many of us know 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 to support pitches. Then of course, 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 enthusiasm for change internally, brands can find themselves regressing into a safe and ineffective position that blends into the sameness of the competitor landscape.

In our experience it takes a confident, unified vision to affect change. We encountered this in our recent relationship with Kasowitz. A law firm that back in 2017 had a brand identity that was worlds apart from who they really were. Our research unearthed a culture that embraced creative thinking, had a relentless commitment to clients’ success and a calculated aggressive drive that led to most cases being settled out of court. This ethos was palpable among all the partners we interviewed, in fact in the four films we produced for Kasowitz, none of the lawyers were briefed on what to expect, yet all of them had the same attitude and the same conviction.

Kasowitz were unapologetic but sincere about who they were and fully embraced the creative journey we took them on. We were astounded by their appetite for bolder, more challenging expressions which put them in an unprecedented brand position for a law firm. For us, the power behind this transformation was a firm culture that believed in being different and had no fear in being seen as such.

We believe that organisations achieve stand out not just because they want to be different but because they are different. Brands that embrace their unique sense 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, creative director, Living Group