Diary of a Sharemark float: defining our brand

James Hunt is a solicitor, serial entrepreneur and founder of Everyman Legal – a new type of law firm providing legal services for entrepreneurs. The company of solicitors is the first in the UK to announce it will take advantage of the new practising regime created under the Legal Services Act by seeking a stock market admission. The company intends to trade its shares on Sharemark – a stock market for smaller companies – in the last quarter of 2012. In an honest and open account for Real Business, James Hunt will be charting the ups and downs of preparing his company for an admission.

This week we have started working with a strategic marketing consultant, Barnaby Wynter of The Brand Bucket Marketing Company. I’ve had a couple of meetings with him in London and now he wants to meet my three colleagues. That makes three solicitors and an accountant: perhaps the marketer’s biggest challenge (or worst nightmare)!

During the boom years, there was significant growth in the legal services sector. However, with the bust has come a significant over-supply of solicitors. The biggest law firms cut early and cut deep. It is the mid-tier law firms |(those with ten to 50 partners) that face the most daunting challenge. Undifferentiated, with high fixed costs and desperate to win business, they are often pitching for work at well below cost just to sustain their teams. 

This cannot continue. 

Everyman Legal needs to have a clearly defined story if we are to be among the winners in this fiercely competitive legal world.   

We assemble for our morning workshop at Everyman Legal’s offices in Witney. This workshop is designed to help us define the Everyman Legal brand. The Brand Bucket’s definition of brand is: “Every experience that affects the relationship between a product or service and its consumer.”

The workshop is a challenging forum. We’re put into a role play at an imaginary dinner party and each of us is asked to describe “what we do” to an acquaintance who needs a corporate solicitor. Our answers do not even excite the four of us, so there’s clearly a lot of work to do! 

We are also asked to write down on post-it notes what we believe to be the strengths and weaknesses of Everyman Legal.

Armed with hundreds of yellow post-it notes, Barnaby departs in the early afternoon. He has promised to return next Thursday with his analysis of the Everyman Legal brand.

The work we have started today will be fundamental to our future success. Being clear on our marketing message is going to be vital as we look to scale up our small company. 

The next workshop will be on defining our target audience. But first we await Barnaby’s distillation of the Everyman Legal brand…

James Hunt, Everyman Legal

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