Branding a sweet spot for law firms, research finds

According to research into branding which has compared favourite chocolates with well-known law firms, Berwin Leighton Paisner was compared by a focus panel to Hotel Chocolat because of its high quality, creative image.

Brand valuation consultancy Intangible Business carried out the light-hearted comparison, suggesting a law firm’s brand can have as much influence on a client’s decision to pick them as confectionary in a shop. It asked a focus group of business executives, law graduates and students to compare law firm brands to chocolate brands – with some interesting results.

Eversheds landed the KitKat moniker due to “new packaging for a product that’s definitely smaller than it used to be”.

Harbottle & Lewis is similar to Ritter Sport because it is “perfectly shaped, top quality and handily packaged for sport”, while Olswang was Minstrels for being “experts in entertainment”.

Slaughter and May was compared to a Crunchie bar as “they crunch through things and they’re bigger than they look”. In contrast, Ince & Co is a Mars Fun Size bar because it is “not too demanding but big enough to have fun”.

CMS Cameron McKenna is Toblerone because it has “global recognition, universal appeal, premium positioning but accessibly priced”.

Clintons is a Cadbury’s Dairy Milk because it “gets involved with great music” and Farrer & Co was likened to Bendicks Bittermints: “Classical, refined and civilised with port”.

DAC Beachcroft is a Lion bar for being “strong, brave and dependable”. Baker & McKenzie’s Hershey’s comparison was on the basis of being “an American favourite”.

BLP’s Hotel Chocolat comparison was made on the basis of the firm being “top of the range, twist on the traditional, creative and all about the visual”.

Brecher was down as Rococo Chocolates for being “exclusive, independent, quite quirky and self-owned” and Holman Fenwick & Willan was Green & Black’s due to its “consistently top quality across a variety of flavours”.

Stuart Whitwell, joint managing director at Intangible Business, said: “In order to survive in this increasingly competitive sector, it is time law firms started to look at their brands more like Nestle and Cadbury’s do – as a carefully managed, valuable asset.

“This research was illuminating– many of those we asked could easily name a handful of chocolate bars and who they were aimed at but struggled when applying this to private practice brands – even those students we questioned who were hoping to become lawyers.”

Keith Lucas, brand valuation consultant at Intangible Business and owner of LUCAS Brand Consultancy, added:“While partners at law firms are often more than proficient at cultivating their own personal reputations, a firm’s brand can often fall by the wayside – left to evolve organically rather than cultivated internally. 

“An individual partner’s profile should always be channelled into the firm’s brand, otherwise it can walk out the door with that partner.”

Judith Prime, managing director of business development at CMS Cameron McKenna said: “We rather liked this and it is a good reflection of us as a firm. We are rooted in Europe and made up of distinctive pieces which all share the same form in terms of client values, service and quality.”