Tela has conducted some research into the top 100 UK law firms and their use of straplines and positioning statements. The straplines and positioning statements were collected from the homepage of each law firm’s websites before being analysed to enable us to gain a better understanding of how they were being used and the different impressions they were creating.
Straplines and positioning statements can play a huge part in differentiating a brand from its competitors. They have the power to influence brand loyalty as they communicate the core values behind the brand. A strapline can help with the brand positioning using only a few words. This works as a great memory tool for potential customers, while a positioning statement helps to identify the benefits and values of the brand.
The ultimate goal is to create a unique impression so that the customer associates something specific and desirable with the brand that is distinct from rest of the marketplace.
Positioning Statements versus Straplines
Brand positioning statements are often confused with company taglines or slogans. Positioning statements are for internal use. These statements guide the marketing and operating decisions of your business. A positioning statement helps you make key decisions that affect your customer’s perception of your brand.
Straplines are usually external statements that are used in marketing activities. A positioning statement can sometimes be an extension of this, providing a little more description behind your brand and it’s values. Not all brands will have both of these.
Out of the top 100 UK law firms, 33 had straplines and 55 had positioning statements displayed on the homepage of their website.
More often than not a strapline will have the purpose of giving the brand a more personal stance by making it more distinctive. Interestingly, out of the top 100 UK law firms, there were 65 that did not have a strapline featured on the homepage of their website.
|Rank||Law firm||Strap line|
|2||Clifford Chance||Creating more value for our clients|
|13||Eversheds||Client Commitment. Innovative Solutions. Global Service.|
|20||DAC Beachcroft||A leading international law business|
|23||Addleshaw Goddard||Expect to see more from us|
|25||Osborne Clarke||Helping you succeed in tomorrow’s world.|
|26||Macfarlanes||The essentials of legal excellence|
|27||Charles Russell Speechlys||A law firm that takes the long view|
|37||Hill Dickinson||An international commercial law firm|
|38||Mishcon de Reya||It’s business. But it’s personal.|
|39||Fieldfisher||A law firm built around people|
|44||RPC||We see things differently.|
|45||Minster Law||Specialist, personal injury support|
|46||BLM||A leading insurance and risk law specialist|
|52||Shakespeares Martineau||Whatever your situation we achieve your goals, together|
|53||Gateley||The UK’s first commercial law firm to float on the stock exchange|
|55||Keoghs||Clients that come first. Relationships that last.|
|57||Brodies||Going above and beyond.|
|58||Freeths||Answers not options.|
|63||Burness Paull||Designed for life.|
|67||Walker Morris||A distinctive law firm.|
|68||Forsters||Comitted and focused.|
|70||Fladgate||Partners in business|
|78||Foot Anstey||Exceptional performance, premier experience, specialist legal advice.|
|80||Hugh James||Strength in our people, trust in our approach.|
|81||Winckworth Sherwood||A law firm with a view.|
|84||Kingsley Napley||Whatever the situation we will achieve the best possible outcome.|
|88||Boodle Hatfield||The experienced view|
|91||Digby Brown||Because if it matters to you, it matters to Digby Brown.|
|93||Co-operative Legal Services||Fixed Solicitor Fees and Legal Advice Without Jargon|
|97||Anderson Strathern||For where you want to be|
|98||Harbottle & Lewis||We provide innovative, pro-active legal advice to dynamic and creative clients|
|99||Harper Macleod||Commercial & Professional legal services|
|22||Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co||When it comes to global business, it’s good to have friends with connections.|
It is common for straplines to contain words such as “you” to make them more relatable. However, out of the law firms that have straplines, there are only 3 that contain the word ‘you’. This is surprising as the majority of them also contain confidence-building language which would be associated with personal words addressing an audience.
Hugh James offers a good example of a strapline that represents them as a trustworthy and reputable firm.
“Strength in our people, trust in our approach.”
This strapline is an example of strong branding and confidence-building content. Containing only eight words, it is the perfect length, making it both catchy and memorable. A short strapline makes it easier to print onto marketing material and include in other forms of branding.
Eight of the top 100 UK law firms with straplines contained the word “law”. As the strapline has the purpose of building loyalty and confidence, it could be argued that it isn’t necessary to describe that they are a law firm. They just need to demonstrate the firm’s philosophy, culture and provide some sort of reassurance.
Strap line focus out of 33
|Practice Area Focused||2|
On the other hand, a strapline containing the word “law” would also act as a transparent statement, letting people who would not necessarily recognise the brand that the strapline belonged to a law firm.
One of the most revealing areas of our research into the straplines is the use of confidence-building words such as “trust”, “experience”, “specialist” and “excellence”.
These words offer an insight into the type of service you could expect to receive from the law firm, therefore positioning them as strong brands. However, between many of the law firm’s, these words could be seen as interchangeable as a lot of the straplines follow a similar structure. This means that potential clients may not be able to differentiate between the straplines used for each firm.
As we can see from the selection used by the top 100 UK law firms, there are some innovative and catchy straplines, while others choose to be a more traditional in their approach. The innovative straplines are considered to be more relevant to the specific law firm and their target audience.
What is a Brand Positioning Statement?
Positioning statements have the purpose of communicating the unique values your brand brings to your customers and audience, in comparison to your main competitors. Creating a positioning statement needs to bring forward the benefits of your law firm and provide a way that your clients can differentiate you from others.
Although many of the definitions Tela identified for positioning statements suggested that they are used for internal purpose, we wanted to find out which law firms were using external statements that were positioning them in the legal sector and is used to differentiate them against their competitors. The brand positioning statement has the intention of stating unique selling points, benefits of working with the law firm and should represent the start of a consistent tone of voice that is used throughout the website.
Interestingly, out the 55 positioning statements, there were only 29 that contained the word “law”. As a positioning statement has the purpose of describing what the organisation does, it would be common practice to include a few words surrounding the industry. Therefore it is surprising that as each firm is offering specialist legal advice, just over half contains a word that describes what they actually do.
If the aim of the statement is to help ‘position’ the firm and develop a brand personality, it may not be necessary to contain any information about the number of offices and location. However, if a firm is targeting a very specific geographic location, adding the locality to the statement will help differentiate the firm from its competitors.
In the majority of cases, the positioning statements offer a short description surrounding the law firm’s background. This includes information such as the location, number of offices and areas of expertise. The statements are then phrased in a way that will help build confidence with the different audiences.
“Michelmores LLP is a Top 100 law firm with offices in London, Bristol and Exeter. We act for national and international clients in the private wealth, finance & investment and real estate sectors.”
This is a good example of a descriptive positioning statement which offers a little insight to the firm. This approach offers good transparency and leaves little confusion about what the firm does and their main areas of expertise.
An alternative approach uses more persuasive language so as to position and differentiate the brand from other top 100 UK law firms. This approach can be seen in the Macfarlanes’ positioning statement:
“We are a distinctive law firm with a straightforward, independently-minded approach. We bring thoughtful solutions to the complex legal challenges faced by our clients around the world.”
This positioning statement builds confidence by using more descriptive language to outline the firm’s approach and values.
20 out of the 55 positioning statements used by the top 100 UK law firms featured locations. As a positioning statement is usually a who, what and where description of the firm it is not uncommon for the locations to be mentioned, or to include the fact that the firm is international. A strong example of this is the positioning statement provided by Eversheds. It clearly details the who, what and where.
“Introducing Eversheds Sutherland. Providing quality, innovation and consistency in legal service delivery around the globe from 62 offices in 30 countries.”
Whereas in comparison, Simmons and Simmons offer a more simplified, short and snappy positioning statement on their homepage, which also includes who, what and where they are based, but in a more concise manner.
“We are a leading international law firm with offices in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.”
Sector/Business Area Expertise
Considering the importance of differentiation in the use of positioning statements, there is the option for law firms to include their sector or business area expertise to give a short description of the services they provide. However, surprisingly there are only 11 out of the 55 positioning statements that give mention to the practice areas or business sectors. A good example of a brand doing this is the Kennedy’s positioning statement:
“Kennedys is an international law firm with specialist expertise in litigation/dispute resolution and advisory services. Our growing network of offices delivers straightforward legal solutions to the insurance, corporate and public sectors.”
As there is currently 45 of the top 100 UK law firms not currently displaying a clear positioning statement on their homepage, they risk not being able to differentiate themselves from their competitors. A positioning statement can easily help to make a law firm stand out from others and will clearly explain who they are and what they do, which is a good indication to prospective clients, especially when it comes to building trust.
There is also the opportunity for more law firms to incorporate the use of location and practice area expertise in their positioning statements to offer a concise statement that represents the firm. These help provide credibility and give trust to prospective clients in terms of the services the are looking to receive from the law firm.