Rachael Evans

How US law firms can achieve brand relevancy in the UK.

Posted on 14th June 2016 by Rachael Evans

After losing a game of Monopoly to my eight year old niece (the shame) she proceeded to tell me “It’s not the taking part that counts, it’s all about winning”. Admittedly, we didn’t then enter into a conversation about US law firms in London, but her comment did inspire this blog post.

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It’s simply not enough for US law firms to take part – opening a London hub or executing a transatlantic mega-merger. The US law firms who win – achieving transformational growth – are those that are successful in building a globally relevant brand.

At last count there were more than 100 US law firms jostling for market share in London. And from the outside, with a few notable exceptions, they all look and sound the same. This is where the problem lies. If US law firms want to be seen as more than a satellite office, they need to achieve brand relevancy in the UK.

The challenge becomes even more marked when you consider that while a US law firm might occupy the equivalent brand position of Mayfair on the monopoly board at home, in London they’re a little more Old Kent Road.

US challenger brands in the UK need to be hyper relevant; they need to speak directly to the markets, the businesses and the individuals they are targeting.  

To build a brand that is relevant and differentiated, marketing and PR cannot be driven by US thinking, ideas and content alone. What works in the US won’t necessarily resonate in the UK and Europe.

Apply the Macro, Micro, Me test.

To ensure your marketing and PR content makes a real connection with your target audience, apply the Macro, Micro, Me test. We use this when developing big, hyper-relevant ideas for thought leadership, marketing and PR content.

Macro: Firstly, is your idea outward looking? Does it start with the big picture economic, social, political, and technology trends shaping the markets your clients operate in outside the US?

Micro: Better yet, is the idea relevant to your client’s industry sector(s), business demographics and the individual organisations you’re targeting?

Me: Ideally, is your idea hyper-relevant? Does it relate to the individuals you’re targeting and their job role? To their hopes and fears? Does it play a role in realising their career and personal ambitions?

Clearly there will be some similarities between the US and UK market and business across the pond, but there will also be some stark – and more subtle – differences.  Marketing and PR must identify and be attuned to these differences in order to be commercially effective.

Some US content can be repurposed for local markets but there will be gaps, which require new ideas and content.

However, three quarters of B2B CMOs we spoke to said they struggle to generate original ideas. So, how do you come up with relevant and differentiated ideas in the first place?

We’ve developed a framework for marcomms professionals to help them generate new ideas by surfacing the thinking of their in-house experts. This 4D framework, and a great tool to stress test your ideas, can be found in our ebook: No Idea? The Marketer’s Guide to Generating Ideas that Sell.

US law firms that fail to achieve brand relevancy are unlikely to see transformational growth in the UK and Europe. They will go to brand jail – not passing go and not collecting the cash.

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