New barristers’ chambers are very rarely launched, so S2 were very pleased to be appointed to create the brand identity and positioning for Forum Chambers. The trading name Forum had already been chosen when the partners approached S2 to undertake their brand design.
In our briefing discussions, it became clear that they truly wanted to stand out within their marketplace, and specifically wanted to establish themselves as different within their market – even opposing the usual ‘legal establishment’ look.
During our initial consultations Forum stated: ‘We want to be seen to be embracing new technology and forward-thinking, ‘we will hold our reference library on our iPads’, ‘we want to be distinctly different […] no dusty books or wigs’.
S2 needed to define a brand position that would ‘establish them as a fresh, dynamic team’
S2 needed to define a brand position that would meet their desire to ‘establish them as a fresh, dynamic team’ – a unique aspect of Forum’s persona, we were conscious of the need to retain enough gravitas to give clients the confidence to engage them in the first place. They had already also identified the niche market they wished to target – namely, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that need help with financial claims, but had neither the complaint size or the resources to engage the larger firms.
All the Forum barristers have many years experience, so they were able to give a great deal of information about their historic routes to market, and how they anticipated being engaged on cases in the future. S2 still conducted some limited market research to be sure we were not missing anything from the equation.
Our results suggested that less than 30% of SMEs that needed their services were likely to commission Forum directly. Most clients would be introduced via their regular legal counsel. Therefore, the brand and placement needed to attract legal professionals primarily but also had to appeal to the 30% of clients who would approach directly.
Working with the Forum team, S2 were able to create a communications strategy that positioned the firm as it wished to be seen – with adequate crossover to address both identified routes to market. Our challenge was to create a balance between looking sufficiently serious and dependable while not appearing too ‘big’, which would deter the very SMEs identified as the target audience.
Facial recognition was deemed a key marketing need
As is our usual practice, various logo ideas were presented to the senior partners, and 3 of the initial designs were chosen for further refinement until one clear favourite emerged. We then looked at the question of colour –finally settling on purple as, in colour psychology, it’s generally associated with royalty, elegance and sophistication. It also embodies a sense of dependability and ‘establishment’, but still retains a sense of being lively and youthful.
The initial F of the final logo mark and Forum text are both a bespoke adaptation of a standard typeface, creating a unique design for the brand text.
The diamond shape was devised as a way to represent the space defined by ‘a forum’ as stated by the dictionary definition: “a meeting place for the exchange and debate of ideas and business”. This diamond device then gave rise to a repeat pattern used within the general brand collateral. Such repeat patterns are a well-established staple of luxury brands and frequently used by ‘institutions of quality’.
Individual barristers trade on how well they perform in court and who specialises in what particular area of law – so facial recognition was deemed a key marketing need. People will usually recall the face of a barrister they saw perform particularly well far quicker than their name or the name of the Chambers they are associates of. We proposed folding business cards that allowed each barrister’s headshot to be included, while also affording a little more space (the open card is double the size of a normal business card) to convey additional information about the chambers’ main areas of practice. It also allowed for a QR code that links directly to the individual barrister’s page on the chamber’s website – highlighting their personal specialist areas, expertise and case history.
Forum needed to appear approachable, accessible and affordable
The website itself was specifically intended to have a ‘limited shelf life’, as it was deemed the look and feel of a large firm site would be counterproductive while the new chambers established itself and earned its credentials. So the underlying structure and content management system was all created to last, but the look of the launch site purposely positioned the firm as a new start-up to appeal directly to the SME market.
Our strategy was that as Forum grew in reputation and won more cases, we would be able to populate the website with case studies, and would then have enough traction to compete with the larger barristers’ firms for larger contracts. Once established, the site could be easily revised with a more polished and impressive design to then position the chambers more appropriately against the well-established competition. But initially, Forum needed to appear approachable, accessible and affordable.
The original site was still very well-received and did its job – generating such excellent responses and growth that Forum reached the point of requesting an updated site a full year earlier than anticipated.
S2 created minimal brand guidelines for Forum, covering only the basic elements of primary and secondary colour palette and specification, logo usage, fonts and imagery style in order for them to be able to engage other design professionals as necessary. However, S2 continue to work with them in a consultancy role in relation to brand management and development, and still produce most of their communications requirements, event invites and articles as needed.
Within the brand development S2 also provided bespoke photography of all the partners for use on the website and business cards which is a continuing service we provide as they grow and take on new barristers.