These days, branding is pervasive in just about all aspects of our lives. We see the way celebrities take advantage of self-branding. They get a lot of help from companies that want to leverage their products with celebrity branding equities. We all know that an endorsement from someone like Oprah when she was on air just about constantly, meant instant success. One word from Oprah or better yet if your product ended up or ends up on her favorites list you can gain an audience and have your product or book take off like never before.
Then there were Tigers of Money from Japan (2001) and the Dragons’ Den from Britain (2005) which were the television programs on which Shark Tank is based. Once your product or service makes it on to Shark Tank, depending on many factors, you can elevate your brand even without and investment.
So how do service professionals make it through all the branding noise that is constant and loud around us? And how do we as professionals, remain within our ethical and other guidelines for marketing when social media and the web have taken a strangle hold on our firm or personal reputations?
Over the years many lawyers and law firms have approached me asking this question. There is no one answer, but there is a core issue in branding that doesn’t waiver, doesn’t change and will always be critical to your branding success and that is, the truth.
Contrary to the realities out there as to what we can and cannot believe in the news and from certain politicians these days, there is truth to be found in who we are as professionals. And as in all branding exercises, if we are not truthful about who we are and what we can do well for our clients within our branding messages, we can suffer greatly. I am not talking about the difficulties often faced by dissatisfied clients who may or may not have a legitimate issue with our representation and who get on Yelp or another review site and post a bad review. I am talking about selling the realities of who we are and how we stand apart from other counsel, or the competition.
For example, as a personal injury lawyer, saying your firm is compassionate or understanding while clients are going through tough litigation in which injuries or worse occurred, is fine. But if your telephones are answered by someone who is off putting and clearly a gate keeper without that compassion, you have presented potential clients with a dissonance from what you have said you are. It is very difficult to overcome that kind of failure.
So develop your key points of differentiation and be brutally honest about them.