NYLMA July 23 Luncheon – Legal Marketing Goes Global

by Janet Odgis on September 29, 2015

The Metro New York LMA chapter looked far beyond the New York metropolitan area at its July 23 luncheon, “Legal Marketing Goes Global: Maximizing International Success for Your Firm.”

The session focused on how law firms of all sizes in a growing global marketplace must wrestle with business and cultural considerations raised by both international clients and new brick-and-mortar locations. The luncheon, hosted appropriately by a major international law firm, Allen & Overy, attracted a very large and interested turnout.

Three expert panelists discussed the challenges professional services firms face when marketing themselves globally.

Robert J. (Bob) Robertson, Director of Strategic Business Development for Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, moderated the panel which featured Howard Kravitz, US Marketing Leader for PwC, and Proskauer CMO Joanne Southern.

The panel quickly emphasized that a firm’s international success is a matter of both brand awareness and cultural sensitivity.

Mr. Kravitz stated that, at global firms with offices scattered in multiple countries, it can prove difficult to align all employees in a way that’s ultimately beneficial to establishing and extending a brand. PwC, in order to protect its brand under those circumstances, has global committees (known as the Global Brand Trust) that collaborate to strictly enforce the company’s identity and messaging. Such committees can be an essential part of brand protection.

Non-U.S. offices are faced with the question of how much to balance the “core brand identity” with the customs, culture, and realities of another market on the other side of the globe.

Mr. Robertson raised the point that operating on an international level also demands cultural sensitivities, which in turn reflect on the brand. Certain colors such as black, for example, might prove ill-advised in countries that have a collective aversion. In light of that cultural consideration, firms must be respectful and flexible enough to tweak their branding if necessary. On the other hand, Mr. Kravitz said, maintaining the integrity and consistency of the PwC’s brand and culture is essential in connecting them globally.

Ms. Southern suggested that it can take some time to develop a market in a new country. Cultures influence a growing business in various ways and employees on the ground must truly understand how to operate in their respective regions. For example, firms in the U.S. generally place a firm’s ability to execute effectively as its most important trait; but in other countries, such as the U.K., the “likeability” of a firm is an equally vital factor. Awareness of those cultural differences is key to success.

Timing is another key to success, the panel noted. Employees based in the U.S. who work with offices in other countries must be prepared for flexibility about the latter’s needs. If an office in Hong Kong wants to hold a call at 9 P.M. EST, for example, their New York counterparts should do their best to make that work. It’s also vital that teams from the U.S. meet on occasion with their teams in other countries, in order to build a stronger bond.

Ultimately, Mr. Kravitz said, success in the international realm hinges on seeing everything through the lens of the client. His firm has a list of 11 “big picture” issues. PwC must focus and fine-tune its approach as it relates to individual markets. It is essential to do your homework, he stressed. Learning from people on the ground in those locations must be done in advance of any meetings. Meeting with teams in advance is also advisable; it will make for a more synergistic presentation.

The panelists concluded with universal advice: If your office develops a plan for an international market, make sure to develop a relationship with the people who are actually in that market, and can provide good input. Tailor your strategy and communications to the needs of the target culture. And remember above all that it is critical that you are all one company and must remain united and consistent when marketing globally.

Janet Odgis is the President and Creative Director of Odgis+Co., an award-winning woman-owned branding design firm based in New York City.

Previous post:

Next post: