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It is bad news, law firms. You tell yourself and your colleagues that you are ready, able and willing to brand. The truth is, you are not even close. Despite the huge demand for information on branding and the article- or seminar-of-the-week marketing circus, most law firms are far from branding readiness. Of the few firms that do reach the branding stage, even fewer know how to protect the brand and keep it perennially in the public mind.It has been clear – during the 18 years we have been marketing law firms – that the general rules that apply to marketing in the product, retail and service sectors also apply here. Selling legal services is different from selling breakfast cereal. But strategic planning, market research, advertising, positioning, public relations, direct mail and branding can all be applied and used effectively within the world of law firm marketing.The real issue is whether law firms will make the investment needed to implement these tactics successfully. And specifically, whether the complicated art and science of branding can be translated and effectively applied to all the law firms that are sending off their minions to hear the self-appointed branding experts attempt to simplify the complex and sell their wares.Branding is not as simple or as quick to accomplish as positioning. While a firm may achieve a position as the best intellectual property firm in the City of London, branding goes one step further. In branding, a firm’s name becomes synonymous with a set of attributes or a level of quality, such as McDonald’s with fast-food burgers or Procter & Gamble with household products. The firm can then use the equity of this brand reputation to market itself and to extend into different markets: for instance, from burgers to salads or from patent prosecution to litigation.

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