Consider Personal Microbranding to Set You Apart


Adjusted for inflation, BigLaw associates are two dimes for a dozen. Sure, the hiring partners talk about “investing” in associates and “grooming” them for success, but the bottom line is this: you’re a cog in a global machine. Not as fungible as crude oil or wheat, but fungible nonetheless. So, what do you do to stick out from the rest? What distinguishes you from all the other wunderkids? Two words: personal microbranding. Personal microbranding can set you apart, create an aura of competence, and lead to priority in the donut pool. Here are top considerations.

The microbranded memo

There is no better opportunity to embed your personal microbrand than on the internal office or case memorandum. If a partner asks for a memo on a particular legal subject, it’s your chance to shine, not only legally but also personally. How? By putting your microbranded message immediately under your name or initials, like so:

If successful, you may start hearing partners say things like “give it to that ballsy kid“ or “this case would be good for that ‘go-to’ chick.”

Microbranded accessories

Monogrammed cufflinks and dress shirts were once a high-stylin’ way to microbrand. They’re still good for an old school retro approach, particularly if you are at a BigLaw firm that continues to use the wholesale method of personal microbranding. More modern microbranding accessories include frisbees, dog bowls, ankle bracelets, henna tattoos, and “microbrand” rings (similar to class rings but with your own microbrand message and design). Cutting edge microbrand accessories, which we advise only if you understand your firm’s culture extremely well, include monogrammed shoes, desktop holograms, inter-office postcards, and personalized highball glasses. While the firm may frown upon a full-scale bar in your office, there are still easy ways to install a hidden minibar to burnish your brand.

What’s your microbrand?

It’s really up to you to develop your particular microbrand, and there are 2.7 million microbrand consultants available for a small fee, including me. But we advise you to stay clear of most fly-by-night microbranding consultants who rely almost entirely on Successories and typically regurgitate the same messages to thousands of BigLaw associates. You can only use “Attitude is a little thing that makes a BIG difference” so many times before partners will recognize that your microbrand’s freshness date was 1996.

A quick caveat

Some partners won’t “get” microbranding nor understand what you are trying to do. If a partner comes into the office with a microbranded memo and says something like “what the fuck is this?” don’t sweat it. Just chalk it up as a typo or blame it on the secretary. But realize the partner is also behind the times and doesn’t understand today’s need for a global marketing dynamic. Understand that it’s the partner’s loss. Seriously, you’ll be his or her colleague quickly enough.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/craftygoat/2629325485/)

C. Hank Peters ("Chank") is an attorney whose background includes a rural, small-town, solo practice in Minnesota. He uses his practice experience from the late 1970s to advise attorneys who want to establish a lean and client-focused legal practice. He is one of a few legal marketing attorneys online and remains the inspiration for the website Big Legal Brain.

6 Comments

  1. Guano Dubango

    May 26, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    When I first came to this country, I learned that my name translate into the excrement of birds. However, in my country, my name is associated with royalty. Hence, I had a choice over whether to give up my royal name, and the opportunity one day to become king, or to retain the name and have to put up with people who associate it with bird excrement. Of course, I do not plan to live forever in this country, and as I get closer to age 40, I will likely return to my homeland with a bride who will bear me issue. Until then, I will remain here.

    Which gets me to my problem in being microbranded here. The firm I first interned with between my first and final year wanted my name to be used for their softball team, the Georgetown Guanos. It was to have a picture of a bird letting go over the Capital dome. I did not think this suitable, and neither did my Aunt Ooona. So I vetoed the idea. As a result, I did not get an offer from that firm. So it can be a two edged sword. You can be a mascot and get an offer, or you can preserve your dignity (and the royal Guano name) by refusing the opportunity.

  2. Quadoz

    May 26, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Hahahah! Man, that is a very elaborate way of trying to f#&$ over BigLaw newbies. I’m not BigLaw by any means of the word. In fact, I shudder at the thought of slaving away like that.

    This is genius I wonder how many people will get burned by this.

    I dig it.

    Quadoz,
    City cop by Midnight, Rookie Lawyer by day.

    • Strenuous Objector

      May 26, 2011 at 3:22 pm

      His article is either a very sarcastic addendum to the d-bag list from old bitter lawyer or a sincere attempt to provide bad advice. I hope it’s the former because I just looked at it and thought “are you trying to get these kids on the non-partner track?” Where’s the monogrammed 3-series to go with their shoes, frisbees, and rubber bracelets.

  3. Mean Partner

    May 26, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Micro branding my ass.

    Two ways to the top: one, bring in Exxon, or a wealthy individual who likes to sue; two, be there 7 to 7 and on at least one weekend, kicking but, taking names, not gossiping, and learning how to get things done well and reasonably fast (this route includes: bugging partners to let you take deposiitons and go to hearings; and assumes: (a) that you do not fuck up and criticize the firm or its partners when anyone can hear you; (b) you are not fat, greasy or unpleasant; (c) that you are not forced out by some lecherous partner who retaliates against your refusal to put out for him/her by blackballing you; (d), that the economy gets better.

    • Good Advice

      May 26, 2011 at 3:52 pm

      Butt*

  4. Alma Federer

    May 26, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    This is silly stuff. Who ever heard of this? When I went to law school, the only thing we needed to do is to figure out whether we wanted to work for the government or whether we would want to work more than 40 hours/week at a law firm.

    The hard workers went to the law firms, and the slackers went to the government.

    I do not know why it should be so different now adays.

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