Prince Rogers Nelson was born on June 7, 1958, and became a musical innovator known for his eclectic work, flamboyant stage presence and extravagant dress. He had a wide vocal range, and his music integrated a variety of styles, including funk, rock, R&B, soul, psychedelic and pop.

He wrote his first song when he was 7 years old and went on to win seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, the first year he received a nomination. However, his rise to an iconic status wasn’t without bumps in the road.

In 1993, Prince changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol while embroiled in  “creative differences” with Warner Brothers, his record label at the time. Many of his fans and the music industry in general were baffled by his decision and thought it might end his career. But Prince stayed true to his course until 2000, when his contract with Warner Brothers expired and he reassumed his name.

A Law Firm with No Name

How could Prince continue to thrive for seven years in a hyper-competitive industry without a name? I think it was due in part to the fact that he built an incredibly strong and recognizable brand and stayed relevant to his audiences throughout his career. The press eventually dubbed him “the artist formerly known as Prince,” and his astonishing talent and creativity continued to enhance the musical landscape of our time.

Can you imagine a law firm surviving in today’s competitive legal market without a name? When I first started in legal services marketing more than 25 years ago, the idea of law firm branding, or even removing one of the 15 founding partner’s names from the firm masthead, was unthinkable.

Unfortunately, that old-school style of thinking cast law firms as stodgy and out of touch for many years. In the ’80s and early ’90s, many law firms were becoming irrelevant to their target audiences and potential clients. Ah – a chance for legal service marketers to make a difference and do more than party planning and placing local sponsorship ads. 

Take a Page from Prince

Today, there’s no longer time for complacency; the legal market is simply too competitive to be complacent. Now, law firms are challenged with differentiating themselves from their competitors, correctly positioning their firms, and telling the firm’s true story through content marketing and other initiatives that engage and retain clients. All of this is done to build or support a brand that resonates with the firm’s audience.

Maybe it is time for lawyers and law firm marketers to learn a lesson from music icon Prince: Take some risks, embrace what differentiates the firm from its competitors and boldly tell the firm’s story.

Your law firm will not be the best fit for all potential clients, nor should it be. Branding your firm is really about understanding what your firm does best, staying true to your course and articulating your best attributes to your audiences.

Risk aversion, a failure to differentiate and a lack of branding have been killers for many law firms. That time should be behind us. Be bold and allow your firm to tell its story and stay relevant to its many audiences. If you do, bringing in new clients will not be an insurmountable challenge.

If you would like more information about how to differentiate your law firm or build/revise your firm brand, please contact Terry M. Isner at tisner@jaffepr.com.