In a post on The Great Jakes Blog yesterday, Robert Algeri made an important point about vague or undifferentiated positioning and messaging in law firm taglines:
A quick glance reveals tagline after tagline of monotony. Here are a few examples from the AmLaw 100:
- Experience. Creativity. Results.
- Experience Innovation
- When Experience Matters
- Everything Matters
I agree that advertising taglines generally don’t provide value for professional services firms (mostly because they’re not pervasive enough to generate top-of-mind awareness), but a unique value proposition is essential for crafting an effective marketing communications program.
Crafting a pithy, evocative expression of your brand’s essence — whether it’s a tagline, a positioning statement or an “elevator pitch” — is tremendously difficult, but it provides coherence and focus.
For example, “Experience. Creativity. Results.” might not move the needle as a tagline, but could be a powerful editorial blueprint. Think of a blog where every post reinforces one or more of those attributes. Likewise, clearly and consistently incorporating those characteristics into case studies and presentations given by individual attorneys — whatever their niche — has a cumulative effect and distinguishes both the attorneys and the firm as a whole.
Differentiated positioning and messaging are:
Direct – Specific words convey clearer ideas. “Experience” is not an inherent strength, let alone a unique advantage. Also, unless it is contextualized, it can be high-sounding but basically meaningless — consider the Rommelwood Military Academy motto from “The Simpsons”: “A Tradition of Heritage.”
At base, “experience” only conveys longevity, which is comforting but not compelling. If what you’re really talking about is superior insight or a record of success derived from experience, say that. Similarly, if you have unique experience in a niche (e.g. international adoptions), lead with that.
Ownable – If you can credibly replace your name with a competitor’s in your positioning and messaging, it’s not ownable. How many times have you seen lawyers touting “We Fight for You” or “We Have a Passion for Justice”? Unlike all those other surrender monkeys who are indifferent to justice?
What’s your secret sauce? Connections? Creativity? Big-dollar awards? Reassuring manner and pleasant phone voice?
Identify it and communicate it.
Defensible – You can easily and credibly support your claims with data.
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