Blog/Podcast: Marketing a Law Firm Compared to Marketing an Investment Bank: More Similarities Than Differences?

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Although the day-to-day details may look different, all professional services marketers can learn from one another.

Kira Sandmann is one marketer who’s made the jump from law firms to her current position as vice president of marketing for the investment banking firm Brown Gibbons Lang & Company. Although the two industries are distinct, Kira has relied on her experience in law firms to help her navigate this new role successfully. She shared her thoughts about the similarities and differences between the legal world and investment banking on the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast, along with an inside look at what she’s accomplished in her new position.

Which qualities lawyers and bankers share (and which ones they don’t)

One thing Kira didn’t leave behind in her law firm career was the type-A personalities. Like lawyers, bankers tend to be ultra-busy overachievers who are constantly traveling, running marathons and even climbing mountains. It can be hard to get their attention through all of this, but for anyone who came up in legal marketing, it’s par for the course.

Bankers and lawyers differ, however, in their approach to collaboration. Most bankers have their MBA, and business school is all about learning to work in teams. It makes sense, then, that investment banking firms tend to have a more collegial atmosphere. On the other hand, law school is based on a different framework more focused on individuality and independence.

Why financial services business development needs are different

If you look at a Venn diagram between law firms and financial services, marketing needs are virtually the same, except in one key area: business development. Law firms want to grow their client base in total, of course, but they also want to grow their business per client. They want to do as much work as possible in every practice area possible for each client. This need has only grown as law firms trend toward client service and experience.

Investment banking, in contrast, is almost all deal-based. Firms might only get a repeat client a handful of times over the course of a decade, which means they have to focus on client acquisition rather than maintaining a stable of clients. Therefore, a business development manager at a financial services firm is going to have a slightly different role than at a law firm.

How Kira defines “brand alignment” and how she did it at her firm

Kira believes there’s a distinction between rebranding and brand alignment. A full rebrand is a complete, from-scratch effort where the organization looks at who they are and who they want to be. It provides the opportunity to completely reinvent your look, feel and messaging. A firm that already has a strong brand foundation might want to undergo a brand alignment instead. The goal of this process is to do a systematic audit of the ways your brand is being presented, allowing you to address any inconsistencies or weak points without doing an overhaul.

Kira recommends that anyone pursuing a brand alignment start at the epicenter of the brand: the logo. From there, you can adjust identity pieces, such as font and color palette, through to printed pieces, such as letterheads and ads, and finally out to your digital footprint, including website, social media and email marketing templates. Using this strategy, Kira was able to refresh her firm’s logo and brand standards without building from the ground up.

How Kira overcame internal resistance to change

Kira didn’t encounter much resistance to the brand alignment, partially because she didn’t do a complete brand overhaul. But what really helped minimize resistance was the support she had from the executive committee. They expected their VP of marketing to do this type of project, and they were happy to give Kira the freedom to initiate it.

It also helped that Kira communicated with the executive committee about every aspect of the brand alignment, from the timeline, to the reasoning behind it, to the exact email she planned to send internally to roll out the initiative. Keeping them in close quarters meant that when Kira debuted the new branding, if anybody had an objection, she had the executive committee to explain the process and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her.

Click here to download/subscribe to the Law Firm Marketing Catalyst podcast.

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