Monday, February 27, 2006

Creating the Graphic Grid

To help unify the brand message delivered by any marketing element we needed a graphical grid that would serve as the design foundation for everything we would create.

As a beginning we determined that our grid should allow for large open spaces between page elements (white space). To a point I believe increased white space equals more comprehensible information.

We also determined that our grid should be usable across everything and anything we created. Not just collateral, but letterhead, envelopes, cards, notes, web, PowerPoint's, etc.

As an example, look at a web page, strip away all content except logo and complimentary information and you are left with a close match to our letterhead. Strip away everything but logo and title area and you have a close match to our cards. To do this we had to make choices about what information/elements went where, and, we had to make layout rules for each grid section. With limited exceptions we use flush-left in all grid sections, and have assigned fonts, weights, colors, content, etc.

All graphical elements must be "living" images; Real people and object photography. Charts and graphs have templates as well controlling the color pallet, callouts, line weights and information flow. Everything conforms to the base grid.

Since we were creating a grid standard that has to communicate our message whenever it was used we also had to consider how it look in two years and in ten.... Like a classic Brooks Bros. suit, would it be wearable down the road as the firm, information, and people changed? For this reason we stuck with simple layout choices, tailored to us of course, and avoided any bling or flair ("new this year" stuff).

In the end we did arrive at a very flexible, unique, wide open, classical grid and so far it is performing quite well. What it will generate is a family of marketing elements that are familiar and friendly to our audience.
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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tag, I'm It

I got tagged on Thom Singer's Some Assembly Required blog to respond to the below questions. He had been tagged by Larry Bodine's Professional Marketing Blog . Now it is my turn. Acutally, I really enjoyed working down the list and recording my choices. If you were tagged by me... have fun and pass it along.

Four Jobs I've had:
  1. CMO
  2. Drill Instructor, USMC
  3. Graphic Artist
  4. Baseball Umpire, NCAA
Four movies I can watch over and over:
  1. Meet Joe Black
  2. Lord of the Rings, Tale of Two Towers
  3. Gladiator
  4. For the Love of the Game
Four TV shows I love to watch:
  1. This Old House
  2. Food Network cooking shows
  3. Wind Tunnel
  4. Comedy Central Presents
Four places I've been on vacation:
  1. Kanektok River, Alaska
  2. Deschutes River, Oregon
  3. Decatur, IL
  4. Las Vegas
Four tunes that play through my head:
  1. Speed of Sound; Cold Play
  2. Find the Cost of Freedom; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
  3. Bamboo; Joe Satriani
  4. Possession; Sarah McLachlan
Four favorite dishes:
  1. Indian Curry (family recipe)
  2. Chicken/broccoli casserole
  3. Oyster shooters
  4. Baked potato w/ butter, sour cream, chives
Four websites I visit daily:
  1. Google News
  2. Slashdot
  3. Simply Recipes
  4. Wired News
Four books I really love:
  1. The Bible
  2. Selling the Invisible; Harvey Mackay
  3. The Short History of Nearly Everything; Bill Bryson
  4. Bass Pro Shop’s Master Catalog (is that a book?)
Four places I'd rather be:
  1. Standing in a river with fly rod in hand
  2. Sailing with my father
  3. Getting a facial
  4. Right here, right now
Four bloggers I'm tagging:
  1. Gerry Riskin
  2. David Swanner
  3. John Zagula
  4. Andy Rutledge
Have A Great Day.

Friday, February 24, 2006

New Photos and New Personalities

There is a 25 year old woman attorney in my firm that came in front of the camera today (We did our second full day of headshot and editorial photography at the firm with several attorneys coming under the gaze of the camera lens). With children older than this particular attorney I was struck by her youth, and I wondered how someone so young could be believable when she says, "I am a litigator for Rutan & Tucker." My job today was to take a picture that would make her statement credible.

We took a lot of pictures using my favorite revealer of personality Raffi Alexander. We took pictures of the attorneys leaning against walls; arms crossed and serious; hands on hips and cocky; smiling; scowling; laughing; relaxing; sitting; thinking; talking; and looking like real people.... With personalities.

I know I talk a lot about photos and headshots on this blawg, but in the bigger picture, the graphic elements of what represents a firm is a huge part of the marketing process.

Again today I saw "people", not "lawyers" in the camera; The perfect image to put in front of prospects and clients. Character and personality is exactly what I want the world to see. Since clients are landed and kept on personal relationships it feels important that personality is revealed as soon as possible.

The 25 year old litigator that looks so young.... We now have pictures of a very determined, totally serious attorney looking quite capable and qualified. If you want to see that for yourself wait a few weeks. I'll share the ad.

I'm Being Watched...

Being a blawger and an active CMO at a law firm has its unsettling moments. Today I stopped by a partner's office to discuss client retention strategies and saw my blawg on his screen. First thought, "Uh-oh!"... Immediately followed by thinking, "Cool!"

Thinking about this further; Of course people at my firm read MarketingCatalyst from time to time. Some may even read it regularly. And that is good in a lot of ways. To name a few:
  • Being the newest mind contributing daily to firm strategies the availability of my thinking process and thoughts on law firm marketing can help build greater familiarity faster.
  • It will stimulate their thinking on marketing topics, maybe help to crystallize opinion, and promote new discussion.
  • It will lead them to other law firm marketing blogs and the thinking of others on this specific topic.
  • It will demonstrate my passion for my profession and the legal industry.
Since I like what I do and obviously like writing about what I know and what I learn I do hope that my blawg becomes an interactive opportunity for me with the members of my firm.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Grinder's and Drone's; Rainmaking is Not the Only Thing

Is it realistic or reasonable to expect that every lawyer in a law firm is a rainmaker? Some would argue, yes. It has even been suggested that personality tests should be conducted prior to hiring and lawyers that test as "non-rainmakers" should always be passed over... Hmmm.

For the good of the client and the sustainability of the firm; I would argue; No.

Without delving into multiple psychological studies I believe we can agree that the personality characteristics of rainmakers are excellent for bringing business through the door and are not always the best at keeping the work.

In the same way corporations divide the task of selling from the task of customer service. One part of an organization has to hire and equip people to sell, and another has to focus on keeping what is secured. If every lawyer in a firm has the psychological profile of a salesperson, who will take care of the clients after they are sold?

It has been my experience that the number of rainmakers in a firm usually equal the need to develop clients (most of the time but not always).

What a firm DOES need, in addition to rainmaker personalities, is lawyers that can do the work. Lawyers that are happy as (in the words of another author) "grinders and drones." Production is definitely as important as any part of the client development and retention process.

A successful firm is defined by the ability to bring in new business AND the capability to sustain the work.
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Saturday, February 18, 2006

What's in a Font?

Selecting a font set representative of the firm essence was an incredibly difficult part of creating the brand package. How many fonts are out there anyway. 10,000? 1,000,000? Probably more.
I just needed two. A serif and a sans-serif. The serif would be my title/headline font and the sans was for general text. Typically headline fonts are sans and text are serif.... You know, the whole thing about serif fonts being more readable in text sizes. But I wanted to turn things over a bit to propogate being different.

Serif: The font we chose is Garamond. It has a very classical look and feel; Like the type in classical leatherbound books and old documents, yet it has a modern feeling and clean line in its swoops and accents. And definitely not Times New Roman (the choice dejure of most law firms). As a headline font it bolds up very nicely without loosing detail or ornamentation.

Sans-serif: We went with Helvetica, the Swedish grandfather of all Macintosh sans-serif fonts. As the font most associated with Mac's, and generally not available on PC's (PC's use the Microsoft created and unauthorized Helvetica clone, Arial) it has an open and readable flow that adapts well to most text situations. And because of its very modern feel was the perfect font to contrast Garamond.

Helvetica, as a text font will also provide me with the ability to monitor presentations and papers produced internally. Because Helvetica is only installed on marketing department PC's I will be able to immediately identify papers and presentations that are being prepared or distributed by mustang attorneys or staff.

Both fonts work well in large and tight spaces..... Our ad campaign uses a wide open, large volumes of white space grid while our web site uses a tighter page grid to maximize space without forcing a user to scroll.

Since my first computer (purchased in 1984) I have been a devotee of fonts as graphical expression. Like pictures a font can make or break a message. It communicates feeling and evokes emotion. Selecting the right font set for a brand is as complex as picking the right color.... Maybe even tougher because differences are so tiny from one to the next.
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Friday, February 17, 2006

Selecting a Color for the Brand of the Firm

When we started the branding process I had recently interviewed most of the partners at the firm. One of the questions I asked was, "What is your favorite color?" The goal of the question, beyond understanding personalities, was to find a color that my partners would be warm towards. That color turned out to be 'blue'. DUH! What is the single most popular color for most North Americans? Yup... Blue.

Then, my rep from Fine Arts came bearing samples of letterheads they'd created for a large block of their clients. More than 70% of this large sampling of law firms used blue (and gray) as their primary color. WOW! Tiny little bells were ringing like crazy in my head. In that moment I knew I could never accept blue.

My art director and brand guru, Jim Hughes, suggested a traditional power color. Red. I liked it but also knew that in the many shades and hues of red there are many that would be incredibly wrong. We did actually look at several combinations of other primaries in the spectrum but kept coming back to red. Considering the amount of time we spent discovering the essence of the firm, red just felt right.

Jim and his team created a collection of layouts using the agreed upon logo, and with each interation he used several hue variations of red. Each time we came closer to understanding and agreeing upon which hue captured our message.

The red needed to be strong without being overpowering. It had to communicate seriousness without being demanding. It had to feel like a timeless color; Not a color born from a modern trend. And, it had to be just edgy enough that my partners liked the statement it made without fear of being too boastful. Let's face it, red can be pretty loud.

On the final day of signing off on the color as I listened to partners comment on the letterhead comp's the one word that kept coming up was, "confident". To them (and to me) the final color projected confidence. Not too loud, not too dull... it somehow managed to stradle the middle ground of being powerful but without ego.

Choosing red in a firm with such a long legacy was a HUGE risk for the firm.... But I believe it is the PERFECT color for this group.

Finding the right color for a firm is not easy. Color communicates entire messages even when it has no form or design... making a choice is that much more important... a choice that does not come along too often.
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Keeping Micro-Networking Groups on Task

I've launched a few micro-networking groups since joining Rutan to bolster and grow the relationship networks of individual partners. A micro-group is an invitation-only group of service providers each focused on the same corporate buyer. The groups never have more than 14 members, and only one firm/company/person is allowed in a specific professional services vertical (one banker, one attorney, one financial printer, etc.).

We get together one morning a month, and to keep the group vital and productive we have a few simple guidelines for everyone:

  1. Be prepared when you arrive by doing your homework. Write down names, companies, and activities you are going to share.
  2. Things to share are: What new companies have you visited with in the last 30 days that would be of interest to the group; What companies are you pursuing and need help with; What networking events will you be attending; What new networking relationships have you started that would benefit someone else in the group; What industry/business news have you heard; And, what positions or people have you heard are open or in transition.
  3. Never share anything compromising or confidential.
  4. Never share anything heard inside the group with others on the outside.

What is magical about these micro-groups is the camaraderie that develops between the professionals in the group. Having close confidants working the same markets, walking the same events, and toiling away with nearly identical objectives is empowering.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Refreshed Rutan

It is official. The refreshed brand of Rutan & Tucker, LLP is on the street, on the website, in the stationery, and rolling through the new advertising campaign. I'm not sure if its WOW or PHEW!

The response has been incredibly positive... from the inside and from out. 6½ months ago I was not entirely sure we could move this quickly to make such a major move; But it felt incredibly important if I was going to create returns in a firm looking for benefit.

Tomorrow I will start telling some of the great lessons learned; How we were able to keep the process on track and some of the critical moments when everything might have tumbled into chaos.

What comes next in this process of reintroducing the firm into an existing market is to get 'granular'. Now that we know our story, have our words arranged in a particular order, and have the majority of voices singing the same song it is paramount to bring everything into every individual relationship we have or are trying to create. Here comes Business Development and Client Relations BIG TIME.

If you have a chance to look at the new website any feedback is absolutely welcome.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Maker, the Keeper, and the Cog

On the Law Marketing listserv today a marketer asked for ideas to get everyone at her firm participating in and reporting on a business development program. My fast answer was the expectation (on the part of her MP) that everyone could be motivated to join in was not realistic…. Even as much as we/I dream for the perfect catalyst to make it happen. Another listserv member chipped in with thoughts on the psychological makeup of attorneys and the low occurrence of natural or willing rainmakers. Since I am impatient with (valid and correct) big words and clinical descriptors I came up with my own set of basic attorney personality types, at least as much as it applies to business and client development.

The Maker (Erectusrainmakerus): These are the charismatic attorneys, and the over achievers who derive personal joy and accomplishment by being out there, making friends, creating connections, developing personal status and seeking external reward. This attorney type accounts for about 10%-15% of the law firm population. They can be counted on to participate in new ideas, generate many ideas of their own, become exasperated with slow movement, and seek leadership and recognition often.

The Keeper (Dependusloyalhandlitic): While not comfortable being in the spotlight, this type is excellent at establishing long-term, extremely loyal clients. They will often state that they are not the best person for creating new opportunities, “but if someone can bring them in, I can ensure they stay.” They are good at entertaining existing clients (that they know) and will, in general, participate in client development programs… As long as those programs involve existing clients only. This is a large group making up more than 70% of the law firm population. And, like any bell curve, this group has some that slide more toward “Maker” characteristics, and some that are closer to “Cogs”.

The Cog (Proficientusclosetdwellerot): Definitely not inclined to interface with prospects OR clients at anytime, no how! Their love of the law is in the law. It’s the work that drives them. Like the unseen gear buried within a giant engine they perform a vital, even critical role in creating great legal effort. In no way is this group interested in external effort because, with great satisfaction, their in-basket is always filled with beautiful work that requires exacting attention. Here is the final 10%-20% of the law firm population. This group, I think, might be the glue that keeps law firms sane.

In creating any marketing initiative for a law, at least for me, it feels incredibly important to understand how each group will react to the program, how they will or won’t participate, and what that action will look like.

OK, your turn. How would you define, in common language, the different personality types among attoneys.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Becoming Untouchable in a Flattening World

Today I am happy to welcome Jeff Black back to the blog with another of his "Relationship Story" insights titled, "Becoming Untouchable in a Flattening World". Here are his thoughts.

Things are changing in our business world in recent years. Did you notice? If not, you’re head is buried very deep. We all need to be aware of the realities of globalization. Thomas Friedman’s book "The World Is Flat" is a great description of the changes that are upon us from beginnings in the mid-80’s, as well as the direction we are heading. There are some chilling observations about how our current behavior will affect our future. Approached from a realistic (and not really political) perspective, the book makes it clear there is no turning back. My daughter just visited China as part of her Semester at Sea trip around the world (how cool is that!), and these changes were very clear even from her youthful perspective, saying "Dad, you had better invest in China!"

The book also talked about ways we can and must take this challenge on. The message was not about impending doom at all. A key point is made about the many things we do in America better than anyone else, but reminds us we must stay vigilant about maintaining these advantages. From an individual standpoint – both for companies and for each of us – we must focus all our efforts on making ourselves Untouchable. We must take action to protect ourselves and become "outsource-proof." This is not a challenge for the faint-of-heart, the unrealistic, or the change-averse.

First, we have to suck it up and prepare for a battle. I’m sorry to break it to you, but we have to compete. No free lunch, no entitlements – unless our choices and actions make it possible.

Second, we have to see ourselves for what we really are, what we are really good at. If "You can’t handle the truth" (see "A Few Good Men"), then you will not recognize where you are really competitive, and you’ll find yourself coming up short all the time.

Finally, we have to pick the right road and stay on it. To quote Ray Baird of the B2B marketing strategy agency RiechesBaird, "the tighter the focus, the stronger the brand." Our objective must be to become a magnet by creating demand for what we offer. We must recognize that we are much more likely to succeed by leveraging our greatest strengths, and we simply must release the peripheral pipe dreams. Trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for failure.

So the best way for us to make the changing world an opportunity and not a threat is to start inside ourselves and our companies, and become Untouchable. Using your true natural tools is the only path to greatness, and greatness is the only path to creating demand for your company, for your products, or for yourself.

Note from Bruce: Jeff Black is a respected member of the Southern California business community, fellow blogger, and a successful search professional for McDermott & Bull, Inc. a retained executive search firm based in Irvine, California. M&B specializes in recruiting difficult-to-find and critical talent for its clients and is the fastest growing executive search firm in Southern California.
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Getting Client Service Right

I've got this little problem; The printing for the new brand roll-out is not going perfectly well. BUT, my printer is all over it. Even as things have not gone quite as expected there is this team at my printer that refuses to give up or offer excuses.

A few days ago I got a call from the President of the printing company to let me know he was quite well versed in the challenges of this job. Nice. Today the CEO of the parent company was heard from. I do not feel alone.

The printer is Fine Arts. The parent company is Merrill Corporation.

If you are in a place to be considering a new brand management company I would recommend Fine Arts... A part of the Merrill Corporation family.

Customer care is never tested until everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

Inside the Mind of a Law Firm CMO

Ever wonder what a law firm CMO is thinking? SO DO I! But I can express what this one is thinking on this day:
  • I have made every effort to make this brand roll-out effective. I pray it will stick.
  • Why don't they (the partners) have stronger faith (except of course that I am taking them into totally uncharted waters)?
  • Am I providing an interesting career learning experience for the people involved in what we are doing?
  • Can I keep all of the parts moving forward?
  • What will my peers think when everything is finally on the street? Will they laugh; sigh; wonder; extol; or blawg a thousand different opinions?
  • Why didn't I know about the different delicacies of engraving?
  • Why isn't my parking space closer to the door? Why don't I have a permanent parking space?
  • Can I hire a Hobbit to do nothing but keep track of the countless messages I need to respond to?
  • How will I help the "partner least likely to succeed as a rainmaker but determined to be one"?
  • Will the staff of the firm embrace or reject all of this change?
  • What are the last demographic figures on the ad campaign?
  • What do I do if?
Being a CMO is wonderful and complicated. I believe I know enough and yet the challenge constantly teaches me that enough is never enough. The beauty of working at a law firm is that everything is always in the air. Everything. There is no greater challenge. If you are a reader... stick with me.

Friday, February 03, 2006

A Firm Within a Firm

After all of the extra attention my firm is getting these last several weeks (related to its centennial) it is no surprise our heritage of public law is receiving so much attention (much to the delight of our current, non-public law competitors). In the 100 years of the firm the first sixty years where dominated by representing an evolving metropolis; That meant representing the people involved in creating an urban infrastructure.... Cities, landowners, utilities.

Now the firm's practice areas are as broadly diverse as the business demographic of the region. And we still have this great public law section; Which is a firm within a firm. This is a new experience for me and I am relishing the challenge.

City law, city planning, water rights, education, civil and citizen interest, election law, disaster planning and reaction... It goes on and on. The knowledge is specialized, the decision makers are varied, the sector is similar. Virtually all buyers of legal services in this sector are not connected in any way to any buying group for the rest of my firm.

AND, it would seem, the methods of winning the business in this sector, and the methods of creating relationships and loyalty is quite different from the private sector. Marketing has a different face....

In order to win business in the public law sector some firms set aside marketing dollars to make contributions to election funds (a practice my firm specifically prohibits). Winning business, apparently, is not always about personal relationships; But about helping someone win votes.

Sooooo... I have this firm within my firm. I anticipate that I am about to run up a very sharp learning curve. If you are a marketer of a public law firm I would definitely appreciate any wisdom you might like to share.

Creating REALLY Big Plans

This has nothing to do with professional services marketing... But the Urban Planning Final Report by the City of New Orleans is gigantic in vision, presents a well-sculpted business case, changes everything that was "what was before", while capturing the imagination. I'm reading it and thinking, "I'd like to live in this place they are creating. I wonder if there is a law firm in New Orleans that needs a good marketer..."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mottled Printed and Brand Roll-Outs

February 6 is four days away... the date we had planned to roll-out the new branding iteration of my firm. Yesterday the new stationery arrived. Several hours later the roll-out had been pushed back a week. The reason? Color. The new logo was "mottled". The ink had pooled creating multiple lines of dark and light ink.

The engraver (the best in the business) said it was a predictable result of the logo to be engraved and the process of engraving. I believe them.... Yet; Why was the probable result not brought to my attention before printing began? They report there are workarounds in these situations.

On the other hand, after so many years in this business, why didn't I know about this. Should I have known better?

The result. Unacceptable stationery and a delayed launch date. I did see a proof prior to printing that showed the same pooling, but because the proof had been hurried I chalked up the ink pooling to insufficient drying time. I chose to not mention the result in the proof because I had pushed so hard at getting the proofs within a such a small time-window.... BAD CHOICE!

Do you think there are lessons to be learned here? DON'T even start counting. The lessons are many for both sides of this little activity.

Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Graphic Artists are Crazy

I might know. I am one. But, not like, "Wooo Hooooo, la la la la la, put me in a rubber room!!" Go online and look at any portfo...