Permanently differentiating yourself these days means getting your words right, especially the words that describe your firm’s added value in a compelling and authentic way, whether the words are formed into a tagline and/or become the key message that informs every business communication you make, from exploratory conversations with a prospect to summarizing the long-term value of your work after their case is complete. To take a strategic leap beyond making ever more phone calls and shaking ever more hands, the progressive law firm (no less than other professional firms) must develop a Key Message to set their practice apart in an immediate and beneficial way that rings a bell with their future clients.
An outstanding Key Messaging example is provided by Merchant & Gould, a Minneapolis-based intellectual property firm. Two years ago, they set about developing a new tagline and – as you might imagine – went about the task with energy, discipline and a sense of curiosity, looking first for clues in their more than 100 years of experience in counsel and litigation, which includes a creative and inventive approach to often complex client issues and opportunities, deep knowledge across many technical disciplines, extraordinary passion for their work and a consistent success record that has forged lasting, mutually beneficial client relationships. And that was just the beginning of their thought process.
“We looked around at other firms’ taglines,” says Director of Marketing Gretchen Milbrath. “And we found that most firms were using variations of the same generic words.”
After two months of study and deliberation, the firm decided on a compelling, four-word tagline that applied to all aspects of their practice: Guardians of Great Ideas. It worked for the counsel side, where Merchant & Gould attorneys help clients guard their great ideas -- ranging from individual inventors and emerging companies to universities, venture capitalists and Fortune 500 / 100 companies with iconic brand names. And it worked for the litigation side, where guarding a client’s great ideas requires success in the courtroom.
“When I look at our tagline,” says Christopher J. Leonard, one of the firm’s executive committee members, “I realize that every person at Merchant & Gould serves as a guardian to some capacity for our clients.”
The firm’s new tagline promises to “protect our clients in every facet of their intellectual property needs,” says Milbrath, including counsel regarding the securing, licensing and maintaining of intellectual property as well as litigation and trial. And, she adds, “We’ve also gotten tons of compliments!”
Takeaway: A tagline based on the authentic, unassailable truth underlying your business can go a long way in attracting – and keeping – the clients or customers you want most.