John Denholm
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THE TIMES: Brand new way to reflect a firm’s strategy

In an era of multimedia and mass communication, it seems absurd that until 1985 there was a blanket ban on solicitors in Scotland advertising their wares. This was based on a belief that advertising “diluted the relationship of trust between solicitor and client by suggesting that the relationship was one from which a solicitor would gain” (perish the thought) and was “precluded by a solicitor’s wider duty to the public”

Although the ban was lifted in 1985 and relaxed several times subsequently, a sense of reticence to shout loud seems to persist among elements of the profession in Scotland..

“I think, unquestionably, that history held the Scottish legal sector back. Any form of promotion was a dirty word and the culture persisted in many areas long after the ban was lifted,” says John Denholm, co-founder of the Leith Agency and now chairman of Denholm Associates.

“Marketing and brand strategy was regarded with suspicion until relatively recently. Its exponents were people you should keep in the basement who weren’t central to company strategy.”

Times have changed, says Denholm, but perhaps not that much. “The importance of a powerful brand is now understood among established law firms; whether a brand plays a central role in a company is more debatable.”

“Often, lots of time goes into creating a nice logo, colour scheme and typeface, but a real brand is the image people carry around in their minds. That’s about quality service across the whole business.”

Denholm thinks that there are increasing opportunities for powerful indigenous Scottish legal brands as some of the strongest marques of the past disappear; McGrigors became part of Pinsent Masons in 2012, while Dundas & Wilson joined forces with CMS Cameron McKenna in 2014.

Philip Rodney, chairman of Burness Paull, one of those powerful indigenous brands (500 staff, 264 lawyers, 58 partners), agrees. “If you work across a large number of markets globally, you need a consistent brand and that can be quite anodyne,” he says.

“It’s different for a firm like us, embedded in the Scottish market; we can be more agile and have more ownership of the development of the brand — and show that we are intimate with the market, but at the same time have an international outlook.”

Mr Rodney thinks that a brand has to clearly reflect a firm’s strategy. “It’s about tone of voice, consistency of message, authenticity,” he says.

He stresses the need to reflect a firm’s vision, values and culture: “We had a go at our values seven to eight years ago and the management went into a huddle and cascaded them down. It didn’t work. When we did it again, we consulted every single person in the firm. Your values are your DNA, not your USP.

“Our values are focused on three key points: ‘we’ rather than ‘me’ and a sense of collective benefit; a culture of continuous and consistent improvement; and linked to that, always being future-facing and having real ambition.”

Catriona Watt, the partner at Anderson Strathern who led the 2015-16 rebranding with the creative agency Whitespace, agrees staff have to be signed up every step of the way.

Employees were fully involved, from the research stage to the launch, and were first to see the refreshed look — and they are “buying into it” very strongly, insists Watt.

Why did Anderson Strathern re-brand at all? “We needed to look again at the brand because the marketplace had changed greatly in the decade to 2015 and we had to examine our own voice and image within it,” says Watt.

“We wanted to answer the question ‘Why?’ Professional services firms had lots to say about what they did and how they did it. We tried to get underneath that: why do we come to work? Why should clients choose us?”

The exercise led to Anderson Strathern (rather than just AS) appearing on the brand, a subtle change of colour and design and a new slogan (“For where you want to be”), which aimed to reflect the aspirations of all the firm’s clients.

“We didn’t rebrand, we refreshed and revitalised the brand and spoke out clearly in the new marketplace,” says Watt.

Denholm thinks, 30 years on, that Scottish legal firms are starting to get it. “They seem to get now that branding is not about the superficial application of a marque; it’s about hard work, longevity and quality of service,” he says.

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JOB TITLE

Denholm are delighted to be working exclusively with Loch Lomond Group; one of the most exciting and fast-growing global spirits companies in the country. To assist with their growth ambitions, they are looking to recruit a commercially astute and strategic marketer to join their team in a newly created role, as Head of Whisky Marketing.

Reporting to the Chief Marketing Officer, the Head of Whisky will create and drive a comprehensive and strategic brand plan including positioning, range architecture and pricing strategy to allow delivery of the business growth ambitions. You will have a background of working with premium spirits and be confident in launching NPD and range extensions across the global marketplace, ensuring alignment to the brand values through promotional toolkits. In addition to a background in brand-building, with the consumer at the heart of global activations, you will have experience of leading brand communications across all platforms including digital, sponsorship, PR and Events.

The Head of Whisky will be a visionary thinker and will bring passion and enthusiasm to the role. You will have the ability to nurture and lead a high performing team to ensure that all strategic plans are translated into commercially successful activations.

Sponsorship & Events Manager

The Loch Lomond Group are seeking a commercially-savvy Sponsorship and Events Manager to join the marketing team.

You will be responsible for developing Loch Lomond Group's sponsorship and events strategy and delivering a program of activities and partnerships that will support the business growth ambitions. Other responsibilities include managing renewals and negotiations, overseeing communication with sponsors as well as aligning business and market needs.

The Sponsorship & Events Manager is a key role in the business. We are looking for a dynamic, entrepreneurial and driven professional who has an understanding of how to build brand advocacy through sponsorship and events. You will ideally come from a marketing and sponsorship background in spirits or have a passion and understanding of the category and its nuances.

This is an incredible role and an exciting time to join one of the most talked about spirits companies in the marketplace. If you think you have the magic that they are looking for, get in touch today!

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Communication Lead

We’re a passionate and professional team who thrive in issue-rich environment and we’re looking to add a Communication Lead to our fast-growing team. You’ll be a trusted advisor to clients across several sectors in all aspects of communication, external affairs, marketing and issues management.

Coming from an agency or consultancy environment, at Account Director level, you’ll report directly to the Managing Director and be responsible for a small and busy multi-disciplinary team. You’ll have first-class project management skills, be solutions-driven and excellent commercial acumen too. Alongside the senior team, you’ll work to drive the strategic growth of Aspect.

Your core duties will include:

  • Working with the MD to develop and deliver growth strategies
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  • Leading the creation and execution of strategic communication programmes
  • Inspiring, leading and developing multi-disciplinary teams
  • Developing strong relationships with clients, colleagues and associates
  • Producing high quality pitches and proposals to secure new business
  • Curating, nurturing and managing a team of talented associates

You’ll be a skilled communicator, interested and knowledgeable about the key issues shaping the external environment. In addition, to be considered for this role, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • 7+ years of senior leadership experience within an agency or consultancy
  • Outstanding writing skills and the ability to engage and excite an audience
  • An impressive track record of client attraction, retention and growth
  • The ability to thrive fast-paced environment managing multiple projects simultaneously
  • Strong influencing and leadership skills to motivate and inspire those around you
  • Excellent planning, evaluation and project management skills
  • To develop new processes, systems and ways of working to drive performance

Communication Advisors

We’re a passionate and professional team who thrive in issue-rich environment and we’re looking for several Communication Advisors to join our fast-growing team. You’ll have previous agency experience at Account Manager level and be passionate about delivering excellent results for clients.

You might be a specialist in PR and media relations who produces compelling editorial content across a range of topics and sectors. Your expertise might lie in marketing, creative projects and digital content, turning bright ideas into impactful campaigns. Or you might be a public affairs expert who understands the policy landscape and helps clients build influential relationships.

Whatever your specialism, you’ll be an excellent writer, full of creative ideas, with proven client management experience and the ability to provide expert advice our clients.

Your key duties will include:

  • Developing and delivering a wide range of project and campaigns
  • Creating compelling content that engages audiences and influences behaviour
  • Managing the delivery of creative, design and digital projects
  • Retaining and growing activity with existing clients by delivering exceptional results
  • Producing winning proposals and pitches to secure new business
  • Creating strong relationships with our clients, colleagues and associates
  • Delivering high-quality work on time and on budget and with passion
  • Actively measuring, evaluating and reporting performance

You’ll be a skilled communicator, interested and knowledgeable about the key issues shaping the external environment. In addition, to be considered for this role, you must be able to demonstrate:

  • Exceptional writing skills and real attention to detail
  • Great client management, communication and presentation skills
  • An ability to work at pace across numerous clients and projects
  • Creativity, confidence and calmness under pressure
  • That you’re a strong team player, who can inspire colleagues to deliver great results
  • Excellent planning, prioritisation and project management skills
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