Reasons for a Corporate Identity Change

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Why should a law firm changes its old image?

In essence, your corporate identity is how you want clients to perceive your company.  At the basic level your identity should do the following:

1.  Portray the image of the firm.
2.  Establish a positive first impression.
3.  Build a preference for your company.
4.  Educate your client on who you are.
5.  Keep you in the top of the clients mind.
6.  Help start and close the deal.

Note that before you change the corporate identity, you should define the target market and unique selling position of the firm.  That is the starting point and will help in developing a new identity.  Who knows, maybe the old look works great for the firm.

Now, if you are sure you need a new corporate identity, then most likely you will have an uphill battle to change from the typical  "We are an old, serious, law firm" identity.  Corporations usually change their identity usually because of bad press, new target market, new product, merger, or to gain a competitive edge.

The Uh-Oh
Corporations change their images when either they gain bad press or experience bad events.  In the case of Philip Morris, it created a parent company, Altria, to rebrand the assets of the tobacco company.  In the case of Valuejet, a crash in the Everglades prompted a quick merger with AirTran.  In your case, I am hoping that nothing is terribly wrong with the firm that would promote a corporate identity change.

New Market, New Products
Corporations change their brand when they want to want to remarket their services or target a new market.  Cadillac is a great example.  In the past five years, the company designed a range of new cars to provide a more hip, youthful look.  The company has banished its old, grandfather image through a change in its corporate identity, advertising, and PR.  If you have a new target market that the firm wants to reach, then it may help to change the identity, same thing goes with a new service that the firm is offering.

Mergers
Corporations also change their brand when they merge.  When Palm merged with Handspring, the company decided to create PalmOne to embrace all of its new technology offerings.  In this case, most likely your firm is not merging with another firm, so you will not need to change or merge identities.

Completive Edge
Corporations can also change brands to simply gain a competitive edge and allow the company to stand out.  New start-up companies or new products have a major advantage in this area as they can start fresh and use an identity to create buzz.  Think of how Apple has dominated the portable MP3 player market with its unique corporate identity for the iPod.  While the iPod is simple to use, there are ton of MP3 players on the market that could have the market share that the iPod has.  In your case, while there are a ton of law firms in Central Florida, there is no reason yours could not stand out from the rest.

Most likely, you will be able to sell a new identity to your firm based on the competitive edge that it would give.  With over 600 law firms in Orlando, Florida (and over 30 law firms with 25 or more attorneys), your firm can use any edge to sign a new client.  A new identity can easily improve the image of your firm, lead to more clients, boost recognition in your community, and even lift morale within the firm.

Of course, simply saying that a new identity will lead to more clients and improve image will probably just make the senior partners cringe.  Most people will want proof of the benefits.  Monetary benefits are harder to track with a new identity, so statistics are harder to come by.  However, there are numerous anecdotal examples of companies changing names, rebranding, and creating new identities for a variety of reasons, all with successful results.
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