Children are amazing because they are so authentic and yet so determined to grow and change. They listen to their hearts and minds and even in the most chaotic of displays garner love, laughter, and connection.
Like children, the most important brands in the world stir your emotions. They do that because they have something they want to change, and as humans, we want to be a part of change.
Why is Apple so much more attractive to us than Dell or Sony? They all create the same functioning products more or less. The difference is that Apple always has something they want to change- the way we work, the way we listen to music, even the way we communicate with one another.
When Apple comes out with a new product, we buy it because of the way it makes us feel. It connects us to change and in a very real way strengthens our self-actualization.
Apple has a purpose. Its purpose is to create great products.
Brands with purpose win peoples hearts, and brands that are remarkable and authentic win peoples minds.
Today, I want to tell you the story of how Hummingbird found its purpose and leveraged Social Media to build its brand.
Almost 5 years ago, I met a few remarkable people who had recently come together to start a new law practice. Amazing guys, each quite unique and all practicing in completely different areas of law. The guys wanted my opinion on some technology, and after a few conversations they ended up with a CEO instead of a new server.
In our first year together we focussed on technology, operations and people. With our backgrounds combining Computer Science, Business, Economics, and Law we worked together to introduce some cutting edge concepts to our practice. It took a lot of patience and trust, and with that we were blessed.
The aha moment for us lay in separating the egg white from the yolk. Just because we practice law by precedent, does not mean we have to do business using the same framework. Looking outside of law, it was very clear that we are in the age of “primae impressionis” and that the business of law needed some new precedents.
We knew that in order to really change things, we needed to start from scratch – we couldn’t just say we were different and expect staff, colleagues, and clients to buy into our proclamation of being different.
What we really needed was to find our purpose.
Why did we get out of bed in the morning and come to the office? I mean, beyond the basics – what makes us tick? And every answer from around the firm kept distilling down to one thing – passion. Andrew, our real estate lawyer, he loves Real Estate – salivates over Real Property like a kid in a candy store. Jag loves philosophy and in my mind could have given Cicero a run for his money. For me it was strategy, and for others in the firm it was actually a moment of self-discovery that perhaps law wasn’t their true passion. It was a bittersweet moment, but one that became the single, clear catalyst for everything that was to come.
And what was the best way to communicate our passion, by using a simple, one word measure:
Passion and Remark-ability
So instead of Ego, Ego, and Ego LLP, we chose a name for our firm that we felt best conveyed our brand of passion, one that would allow us to be known for our deeds and attributes rather than our last names. It took a pretty big leap of faith to actually make that decision. We pictured standing in a courtroom with opposing counsel telling the judge that our law firm was for the birds.
But carry on we did.
In the coming months we had lots of fun creating a logo – I cyber stalked just about every gifted logo designer on the Internet. Our search took us all the way to Alberta, where we met a gifted designer – Josiah Jost. His ability to create iconic logos that use both positive and negative space was miraculous.
From a walk to a run, we moved onto our website, which is a great canvas for giving a brand more creative meat. Wanting to be different, we went with a fun, young approach to our website.
Well, it certainly garnered lots of talk – people either loved it or hated it, and so to that end it was remarkable… but it was just not right.. too much yolk, not enough egg white. We needed something remarkable but most importantly we needed something people could connect with.
Looking for influence from other industries, we looked to the fashion world. The fashion industry has a remarkable way of being elegant, powerful, and purposeful. Every stitch existing with purpose. Armed with that, we built the face of our brand. Clear, Comfortable, Approachable, Hip, Passionate.
What we realized was that new clients don’t come to your website utilitarianly – it’s an interview, it’s a fitting room – and we wanted clients and lawyers alike to be able to see themselves in our robes.
So now that we had our brand, it was time to connect with the world. We hired a company to optimize our website for searchability (SEO), and get us kick started with search engine advertising. We certainly started with a kick…in-the-teeth. People question law firm billing practices, but SEO companies really take the cake.. you drop a small fortune and wait at least three months before you MIGHT see a return start to trickle in. So naturally, we dove in – eyes wide shut.
Needless to say, four months later we hired a second SEO company and doubled down; this one promising to track incoming calls by having our website show a different phone number to every client that came to our website – an idea that works about as well as drunk texting. So we tried that as well. After about six months of shooting ducks in the dark the lights turned on and we had a much better sense of what worked and what didn’t in the search engine space. It turned that out the secret didn’t lie in SEO experts, but rather in slowing things down… like editing a movie frame by frame. From the outside, it looks like a movie… and it’s sold by experts as a movie…
but the truth is that the best filmmakers, like Spielberg, don’t make movies, they make frames. Search engine optimization is a page by page affair. What information does the page convey? What emotion does the page convey? Who is the page for? We took the time to figure that out and it started to work.
Search engine advertising was much the same. Google has two main offerings – one called the search network – we used it as billboard advertising. It’s more about brand awareness than anything else, but good bang for the buck. The other one the star of Googles show – Adwords. Adwords is a powerful advertising medium. It’s not cheap, but gave us a great return on investment once we applied the frame philosophy. Each individual ad in Google was a frame in a movie. Each frame belonged to a scene, had actors, props, and was ultimately part of a larger story. Suffice it to say, it wired up into a complex mesh of keywords, ad messages, goals, and very importantly – landing pages. In the end, we were successful because we didn’t outsource our story genesis.
So after all that! After our purpose. After our name. After our logo. After our brand. After our website. After Search… only after all that, we stepped into the ring of social media.
Social media is a conversation – its a exchange at the most human of levels. Everything before that was just dictation – unidirectional and disruptive outbound messaging.
We started with Facebook and LinkedIn. Both very powerful and when combined they work fabulously for us. Facebook allowed us to talk to people on a personal level and linkedIn on a professional one. These days we are starting to see those networks really converge and I think it’s primarily due to the fact that people are tossing aside the many hats they used to wear when the world was so much more formal.
We created a Firm Facebook page and brought someone on board who shared our purpose of passion and remarkability. We posted almost every day, and still do. We use humour and other emotions to start conversations with anyone who will listen. Content creation and auditing is easy because we follow our purpose.
On LinkedIn, we also have a company page, but more than that we took the time to unify the LinkedIn profiles of everyone in our Firm. We stand united in our purpose, and going to any one of our profiles on linked in will leave you feeling purposeful and passionate. LinkedIn also has a great advertising facility that many people do not know about – which we actually found to be even more powerful than Adwords in select cases. And recently, when LinkedIn opened its doors to Pulse – its online publishing platform- we jumped on that and use it to post and share all of the content we create – which is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 24 articles per month all written in-house by lawyers, paralegals, and students. We let our lawyers shine.
We have a Twitter account, Google Plus account, and recently we just launched our own Firm Instagram account. What an amazing platform – 300 Million Users and yet very few firms are using it. Our campaign – Living the Hummingbird Life #HummLife
There is so much more of this story to tell (and hopefully a future filled with adventures), but that my friends is better left for another time. Thanks for listening to our story, I’m looking forward to hearing your story some day – and whether it’s your firm or your own personal brand that you are looking to build, do it with purpose and do it with passion.