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Collyer Bristow – Individuality, creativity and collaboration

One year ago, Collyer Bristow unveiled a new brand. For the firm that is known for its links to contemporary art, it didn’t disappoint. The Professionals caught up with Chris Wilsher, the firm’s Business Development & Marketing Director, to discuss its impact.

Like many law firm brand projects, its roots are embedded in a wider review of the firm’s strategy, answering the ‘who are we working for’ and ‘who do we want to work for’ questions.

“Our brand then was some 15 years old and was little more than a wordmark that told people the name,” explains Chris. “It said nothing about who we are as a firm. In fact, in many instances, it worked against us.”

And what makes Collyer Bristow distinctive as a firm is its blend of expertise from working with fast-paced fintech challengers and entrepreneurs, supporting large-scale commercial and financial disputes, innovative property developers, and a strong private wealth offering split between servicing younger ‘emerging’ wealth and the, on occasion, slightly more conservative ‘established’ wealth. The brand needed to work for all.

“We are a creative firm that thinks a little differently, and our new brand also needed to capture and reflect this,” says Chris.

Chris, together with the BD and senior management team, guided by the agency realityhouse, spent over 1,000 hours of research defining the firm’s strategy and, importantly, spent time having the firm’s partners agree on the emerging strategy and direction for the firm.

“This was key when presenting such an unconventional new brand, at least in the legal sector, to the firm,” explains Chris, “as it was more than a visual logo, a new website, photography or literature. It was directly linked to the agreed strategic direction.

“This meant that irrespective of whether individuals liked or disliked the new visual element to the brand – and there were dissenters – it could not be argued that it did not support that strategy. it is built to resonate with our target audiences, not all of our lawyers. Personal taste and preference were effectively removed from the process.

The brand’s key strand of celebrating ‘individuality’ also helped with engagement and buy-in internally. The logo mark is available in 12 different plays, with practice areas able to choose a version that works best for their clients and individuals choosing their own version for business cards.

“It was a simple yet clever way to allow our 35 partners and 10 different practice areas to personalise the brand to best suit them and their clients, whilst still maintaining an overarching and consistent look and feel.”

So what impact has the brand had?

“Its importance cannot be under-estimated,” says Chris. “Staff have quickly adopted and embraced the brand; intermediaries, which are important to us, have told us that it gives clarity to who Collyer Bristow is as a firm and the types of client they think would engage well with our proposition. And it is the same with clients; it reflects their creativity and direction and ambition.

“But, of course, that is not the end of our brand journey. It is a living and growing thing and the work continues to evolve the way we present ourselves and embed the brand values across everything we do.”

It has, and importantly in a locked-down Covid-19 world, supported clever and imaginative digital communications.

“It has allowed us to be more creative, pushing more accessible and consumable content,” explains Chris. “And that sits alongside a wider and ongoing programme focused on the client experience.”

There is more to the Collyer Bristow brand than meets the eye, with Chris and his team constantly challenging and driving the firm into new ways of winning work, supported by an edgy and refreshing visual identity.

Learn more by visiting www.collyerbristow.com.

Matt Baldwin
Co-founder – Coast Communications

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