Law Firm Brand Positioning During A Downturn: What Can Be Learned From The Consumer Market?

Law Firm Brand Positioning During A Downturn: What Can Be Learned From The Consumer Market?

The news cycle is bursting at the seams with talk of how to get through the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent recession. I thought it would be useful to write a piece about how firms can emerge stronger, and even prosper, as a result of the decisions they make whilst we find ourselves in an era of lockdown and social distancing.

Firstly, it is important to recognise that time and time again, it has been proven that firms who invest in their marketing and communications in times of economic uncertainty fare better than those who don’t. Although, during the downturn itself, firms who invest in these areas may see a flat net result or a nudge slightly upwards, the huge benefits reaped can be seen as we come out of recession. Those who invested are clearly well-positioned, ready to scale, and front-of-mind of their target client base. To coin Albert Einstein: “in the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.”

What are consumer brands doing?

They remain visible.

There have been some fantastic advertising campaigns pulled together quickly that reflect the world we currently live in. Think, Tesco’s “Food Love Stories”. This advertising campaign started long before lockdown, but they quickly adapted it to fit today’s dynamic. The food still brings families together.

Whilst you would expect those continuing to trade to capitalise on the cheaper advertising space available like supermarkets, FMCGs, and technology companies; it is those that have had to completely adapt to the situation that stand out. Airlines, for example, though nobody is flying, are still ploughing along with marketing campaigns by offering discounted holidays and flights post-lockdown. They are letting their customers know that they are still open for business despite the market conditions. Most importantly, they are looking to the future.

What are law firms doing?

In most cases, nothing or living in the here and now.

Much law firm marketing activity over recent weeks has been a bit hit and miss. Much of their good work has gone unseen which is a real missed opportunity. At a time when news outlets are shouting for expertise, and the column inches are available, the legal market has been mostly silent.

Do not get me wrong, there have been some superb lawyers on TV, radio and print, discussing furlough – a very hot topic. There have been a few legal stars who had the confidence to put themselves out there early and admit that they didn’t have all the answers. This exudes confidence, played out well in the media, and is likely to have opened doors to potential business leads.

In the main, law firms have focussed their external communications on either regurgitating what has already been said, or client mailouts on force majeure. If I am honest, after the first article or two appeared, I was hoping to see firms tailor their contract review advice to the specifics of their clients’ sectors. Few did. I am told that some clients even asked firms to stop sending them these updates.

What should law firms be doing?

Be visible and be relevant.

There is very little point in being visible and irrelevant which seems to be the case today. Law firms, by nature are cautious in their communications and reticent to stick their neck on the line.

As we come out of this crisis, we will see yet again that it is those that have stuck their necks out, invested in marketing and communications, and looked to the future to help clients in their uncertainty that will come out on top.