Lawyers who want to prosper in the new millennium — whether they practice at large firms or in smaller offices — had better be prepared to learn from the likes of Starbucks and Coke. So say the marketing experts who have brought to the legal world the latest in trendy buzzwords — branding.

Reducing the marketing concept to a single catchy word, of course, runs the risks of making it seem both too simple and too complex. Too simple because it fails to adequately convey that building a law firm’s brand-name identity is a long-term process composed of many small steps. Too complex because giving it a new name easily obscures the fact that branding, after all, is precisely what successful firms have always done: deciding what it is they want to be known for and getting the word out.