What it takes to rebrand America’s largest law firm

Rebranding Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, the largest law firm based in the United States, was no small feat, especially as the rebrand occurred amid two mergers (with Bingham and Singapore’s Stamford Law). Infinite Global’s Helen Bertelli talks with Despina Kartson, Morgan Lewis’s Chief Business Development and Marketing Officer, to learn the secrets behind the firm’s successful rebrand.

What does the new Morgan Lewis brand encompass?

Our brand is meant to define and raise awareness of our practice and industry expertise, commitment to client service, and seamless global reach. The overarching brand messages include our lawyers’ responsiveness to clients, agile partnership with clients and the focus on delivering results. As for the brand elements, they include a new logo, color palette, website, and digital presence; new marketing materials; basically a complete rebrand across the board.

How long did the process take, start to finish?

About 15 months.

Who designed the site?

Siegel+Gale is the design firm that we used. In addition, the navigation in the new site—which is very intuitive and aimed at enhancing user experience — was informed by a combination of the design and the new CMS we chose, which provides a very sound backend infrastructure.

The image on the front page of the new website has a bold and fresh approach. Tell us about how this came about.

 We knew that we would incorporate photography into the site, but we were also looking for something different. The idea behind the illustration — original artwork that we commissioned — is that it is differentiating and unexpected. It is both new/contemporary and very traditional — a nice way to address both the new and the old, which is an important message.

Was the rebrand planned before the mergers with Bingham and Singapore-based Stamford Law Corp., and how did the mergers impact the plan?

The rebrand was planned prior to our combining with the new firms. The launch was well in the works by the time of the mergers, and so the mergers impacted our timeframe a bit. But interestingly, both firms were good cultural fits, and so integrating them into the Morgan Lewis brand was not as challenging as it otherwise might have been. Very early on we identified our counterparts and resources within the other firms, and we worked very closely with them to procure the information and content that we needed.

How much content was produced during the rebrand?

Literally thousands upon thousands of pieces of content — 2,000 lawyer biographies alone. As such, project management was key. We worked very closely with Steve Andersen and the Infinite Global Content Center; Steve was tremendous and put together a substantial team of journalists to create the content. I don’t know how we would have gotten it done otherwise.

We also created extensive style, tone, length, etc. guidelines that we applied to all the content to ensure it remained consistent and within our new brand parameters. Finally, before beginning the rebrand we did a comprehensive audit of all our content to determine which elements would migrate, and which would disappear or fold into something else.

As part of the content strategy, you revamped the Morgan Lewis attorney biographies. Tell me about what you did and how you accomplished this.

We re-worked the biographies to focus on what our lawyers do for clients, rather than emphasizing the background of the lawyers. Our goal was to make a stronger connection to the client through these written materials. In terms of how we accomplished this, we had each lawyer update his or her biography from a purely factual perspective, making sure all the information was correct. Then we turned them all over to Steve’s team to rewrite each according to our new style guidelines.

Having just managed the brand launch for one of the most prominent law firms in the world, what tips/best practices can you share with legal marketers?

I think the most important message is to cultivate a really strong collaboration among all of the constituents responsible for launching a new brand—technology, marketing, external writers, etc. It is critically important to make sure there is regular communication and strong collaboration. No single person could have accomplished this alone; this was truly a team effort.

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