When is it time to update your branding?

Even if it's not part of day-to-day business: In law firms, brand management is the responsibility of the partners. At certain intervals, the question of rebranding arises, i.e. revamping the law firm's image. In this article, we provide an overview of rebranding: What does it mean for law firms? When is it time for a rebranding? And what phases does a brand refresh project involve?

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When is it time to update your branding?

What is a rebranding?

A rebranding aims to change the visual appearance of a brand and modernize the "look & feel".

However, the corporate design is merely the visual translation of a brand's identity. In order to convey a suitable image, a comprehensive rebranding therefore usually also includes the overarching question of the strategic characteristics of a brand. It is important to review and formulate these characteristics from time to time.

With this awareness, the visual translation can be implemented and aligned more appropriately. At the same time, a brand's identity is more than just visible branding. It also determines the values of the brand, its language, the appearance of the employees and much more.

Note: Gentler revisions are of course possible. The "facelift" of certain elements, such as the logo or colors, which does not touch the core identity of the brand, is also sometimes referred to as rebranding.

The following information relates to rebranding in the broader sense.‍

Advantages of Rebranding

  1. Timeliness: Rebranding ensures that the brand reflects the firm's values, unique value proposition and offering.
  2. Differentiation: A strong brand ensures visibility in a competitive market. The brand ensures recognition and differentiation from the competition.
  3. Addressing target groups: New market segments or target groups are addressed with a targeted rebranding.

What makes rebrandings special for law firms

Firms organized as partnerships differ from other companies. In the corporate brand of a law firm, for example, the brand identity is strongly based on the partner community. Partners are strong personalities. They are the identity-forming elements of a law firm and the law firm brand. Successful (re)branding is unthinkable without the identification and participation of the partners, even in medium-sized (and sometimes very large) law firms.

Rebranding examples: Hamburg IP boutique Harte-Bavendamm and law firm Altenburger.

When is it time to update your branding?

In the past, law firms rebranded when a "name partner" left or joined the firm. The rebranding consisted of adapting the lettering on the door sign and letterhead. Since law firm brands no longer generally consist of the sum of the partners' names, a change of partner alone is no longer a reason for rebranding.

These are the general signs that it's time for a rebranding:‍

Outdated Appearance

If your brand is stuck in the 00s (or even the 90s), there is an urgent need for action.

Your brand gives the impression that your working methods are no longer up to date either. To show potential clients that they don't need a fax machine to receive messages from you: A contemporary design signals modernity and awareness of current trends and developments.

Changes in the Market

The needs of target groups are changing. Younger generations are reaching purchasing power and entering decision-making positions. Your brand should appeal to these people. But a contemporary image also helps in the battle for qualified employees.

The market is an agile environment. It is imperative that brands are aware of developments, change and reinvent themselves where necessary.

Out of the Slumber

Many brands take a break from time to time. A rebranding can be a good way to wake up the company, its employees and its customers – even if everything is actually running smoothly.

A spirit of optimism!

Internal Developments

Law firms are changing internally. Partners of merit who have shaped the firm's image are stepping down or leaving altogether. Younger partners are striving for a dynamic external image. They are looking for a modern and effective brand. And with good reason: Building a successful career as a lawyer depends on a strong brand.

A generational change that has taken place or is planned is a typical use case for rebranding.

Of course, there are other reasons. For example, when negative headlines and events severely damage a law firm's brand. Or when many different brands are united under one roof in a company and this mix leads to great complexity.

The Phases of a Rebranding

1. "Pearl Diving"

It all starts with the brand identity. This involves analyzing both the current status and any desired further developments. In an open phase, we dive into your brand: What is your brand like? How do you want to be perceived? How should the brand be positioned? What characteristics really distinguish the brand and set you apart from the competition?

2. "Reinsurance"

Once we have found the perIs, we use them to create a complete brand identity. As an agency, we play this back to our clients. This gives them the opportunity to check whether our understanding of the brand character matches their own perception. We all have different notions of tone in our understanding. "Modern" means something different to everyone. We balance out these misunderstandings and create a common basis from which the implementation benefits massively.

3. "Excitement"

A shared understanding of the brand's goals increases the anticipation and motivation of most project teams. The first ideas and visions of how convincing the brand will be after the redesign begin to form in people's minds. That is exciting.

The translation into visuals begins. In this phase, the exchange between agency and client is very close. Mood boards are used to create initial drafts for new and/or developed elements of a corporate design.

4. "Challenges"

With the initial concrete drafts, things regularly get a little complicated for the first time: Suddenly, the image of your own brand is no longer a product of your imagination, but is visualized. Colors, shapes, images, typography, etc. are fixed and suddenly the brand has a new face.

For many partners in law firms, this is a complex process. A good process in phases 1-3 above helps a lot in these moments. Nevertheless, it takes trust, courage and a close exchange between agency and client. It's worth it!

5 "Execution"

A corporate design emerges from phase 4. It is the basis for the rebranding, which is not yet complete. Finally, the communication media must be adapted to the new design. In our digital world, the website takes center stage. It is also regularly the most extensive means of communication in terms of design and development.

Of course, other communication will also be revised: letter heads, business cards, PowerPoint slides, social media visuals, etc.

Once everything has been designed, nothing stands in the way of the launch of your exciting and fresh brand.

How long does a rebranding take?

For a well-founded process as described, a period of approx. 12 months should be budgeted for in small to medium-sized law firms.

How HeadStarterz Can Help!

Branding and rebranding for companies in the legal market is our core competence. We specialize in strategically developing and strengthening brands. For us, everything starts with the identity of your brand and the understanding of your target groups. At this intersection, we position your brand in a joint exchange.

We approach every project with a great deal of courage, confidence and respect. Because we know: A company's brand is the heart of a company and it is a big step to entrust the work on it to someone else.

We take your brand just as seriously as you do.

Are you interested? Contact us without obligation: hello@headstarterz.com