doug wright holland and knight

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I love building businesses. One of my favorite themes to explore is how new business owners can transform their company from a fledgling idea into an industry-defining success. That transformation begins with building a brand. Many entrepreneurs focus on getting the right product into the market or disciplining their staff to achieve standard operating procedures. While those are all important steps in reorienting your company and attracting investors, they won’t grow your company into something truly great. To build a revolutionary brand, you have to think differently than everyone else. You have to create an original vision of who your company will become – and how it will make the world better by helping people achieve their goals and fulfill their dreams. In this article, we’ll take a look at how one law firm did just that by transforming Holland & Knight LLP from a stodgy old-line firm into one of the most innovative law firms in America.

Define Your Brand Purpose

As we discussed above, you can’t grow your brand without a clear purpose. As with all your marketing efforts, this purpose should reflect your core values and reflect your aspirations for the long term. For example, if your purpose is to help entrepreneurs grow their companies, then your marketing messages should reflect that goal. But how does that marketing purpose relate to your clients’ lives beyond the corporate realm? For instance, what do you want your brand to communicate about your profession or your clients’ lives beyond the corporate realm? These are the questions you must answer as you create your brand purpose. This may seem obvious, but it’s surprising how many brand managers forget to define their brand purpose. Most brands will tell you what they are and what they want to do. But brands must also tell stories about why they exist, what they stand for and what they want to achieve.

Set Clear Marketing Goals

Now that you have your brand purpose defined, it’s time to set clear marketing goals. Your marketing goals are the metrics that you will use to measure your success. These marketing goals should be specific – and they should be measurable. As John Doherty, an authority on consumer marketing has said, “Marketers have lost sight of the fact that the consumer is not a moron. He is a human being. He wants to be understood and he wants to be appreciated.” What are the metrics that you will use to measure the success of your marketing? These and many other marketing-related metrics can help you better gauge the success of your marketing efforts.

Find a Signature Product or Service

The next step in building a brand is to find a signature product or service. This may seem obvious, but you would be amazed at how many new business owners miss this critical opportunity. A signature product or service is what makes your brand unique. It’s what differentiates you from your competitors. It’s what will make your company stand out from the rest and make it memorable among consumers. Your signature product or service can be anything – it doesn’t have to be a tangible good or service. It can be an idea, an intangible value, a concept, a philosophy, a mood, an emotion, or a feeling. Your signature product or service defines your brand and sets it apart from your competitors. It is the one thing that your brand is all about.

Build an Emotional Connection

Next, you need to build an emotional connection with your consumers. To do this, you need to focus on trust and reliability. You need to demonstrate that you are accountable and reliable in every interaction with your clients. Let’s be clear. Building trust and reliability are just as much about how you behave as they are about what you say. If a client walks away from an interaction with a lawyer feeling that the lawyer is trustworthy and reliable, they will have made a positive decision based on their emotions, not their logic. As A. G. Lafley, CEO of Procter & Gamble has said, “What you do is as important as what you say.”

Foster Loyalty and Advocacy

The final step in building a brand is to foster loyalty and advocacy from your clients. What are you willing to do to ensure that your clients are loyal to your brand? What will you do to encourage continued advocacy for your company? Your clients want to feel that you are on their side. You want to be their champion. You want to fight for their interests in every interaction with your clients. This is not about being a pushy salesperson. Instead, this is about building trust and reliability in every interaction with your clients so that they know that you are on their side and will stand by their interests. In other words, you want to be a trusted advisor and advocate for your clients.

Stay Current on Consumer Expectations

The final tip I’d like to share with you comes from a book that I read several years ago. In his book, Psychobabble, author Dr. David Shur agrees that brands don’t just happen; they must be built. As Dr. Shur notes in his book, brands require constant work and attention. They require strategic thinking, identifying new trends, and staying ahead of the competition. To successfully stay current on consumer expectations, you must regularly evaluate your existing clients and new prospects. You must constantly be assessing your company and making adjustments to keep your company on the right track.


Building a brand is one of the most important things you can do in establishing a successful law firm. A brand is the single most important marketing tool you have. How do you build a brand? By creating a unique vision of who your company will become and finding a signature product or service that will set it apart from your competitors.

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