Not living by brand alone
At Wolferstans we are excited about Plymouth’s new brand – ‘Plymouth - Britain’s Ocean City’ – the launch is giving the business sector a feel good factor because the brand is based on the City’s excellence in the marine industry. Rather than building a brand on a wish list of what Plymouth would like to be, we have a brand which is a true reflection of what is happening here. Plymouth’s connection to all things marine must be the envy of other waterside cities, with the Marine Energy Park including the City, the Marine Innovation Centre Building at Plymouth University providing innovative wave technology linking with the Marine Institute, the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and the new Marine Academy, we have a lot to be proud of already.
Brand is the familiar outward face of business and a great brand will be instantly recognisable.
However, brand alone will not be enough to ensure the success and growth of Plymouth; it is the reputation which supports the brand that makes it work. The business must actually do what it says on the tin. When things go wrong for a well known brand it is its reputation that suffers, Findus’s brand suffered reputational damage when customers learnt that their beef lasagne contained horse meat. So while the words brand and reputation are often used interchangeably they are not the same thing. The new brand for Plymouth has a great opportunity for success because the reputation behind the brand is based on the excellence of the marine industry sector we already have working in Plymouth, so there is good reason for optimism.
For us lawyers we are currently facing huge challenges, not least the growth of Alternative Business Structures such as the Co-op which has just posted ‘modest’ (its words) profits for its legal services division of £23 million, the loss of legal aid for most family work and medical negligence claims, reduced costs recoverable in court following the implementation of the Jackson reforms and the ban on referral fees for personal injury work, it is no wonder that solicitors‘ practices across the country have been experimenting with brand such as Quality Solicitors which has been advertised on TV. Solicitors are no exception to other businesses or indeed cities, seeking unique and distinctive brands to stand out from their competitors.
In the legal sector, winning work and retaining clients for the long term requires a strong reputation built on performance and fulfilling the expectations of clients by building a trusted relationship. We do this by adding value to our clients’ businesses through risk management, by ensuring that terms in commercial contracts, employment contacts and transactional property documents, limit and reduce exposure to risk and thereby add value. Brand alone cannot achieve this.