The power of brands in consumer industries is well recognized in China. So why is branding still a new phenomenon in the legal services sector? By Alice Gartland

“You don’t have a choice about whether or not you have a brand. You only have a choice about whether or not you manage it,” says Suanne Colley, who leads the Asia Pacific marketing and communications team at US law firm Skadden Arps ­­Slate Meagher & Flom.

Amy Norman, a former lawyer who is now a strategist at brand consultancy Wolff Olins in London, agrees. Wolff Olins advised Linklaters on its branding strategy in 2002, and has just finished advising PwC on a global rebranding. “People talk about you whether you like it or not. What you have to do is put good things out there in the world for them to talk about,” she says.

Amy Norman, Strategist, Wolff OlinsAccording to Norman, branding is often seen as purely a marketing issue, but it’s actually about the whole office culture. The brand shapes “what your capabilities are, what you offer the world and what you look like,” she says, emphasizing that a law firm’s brand “choreographs” its internal and external relationships, and “needs to resonate with a lot of people”.

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