Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC launched its rebrand as CSG Law Nov. 15 after an internal launch meant to drum up excitement among firm members, according to Chief Marketing Officer Dawn Afanador.
Afanador’s team worked with Fastlane Communications of Little Falls for more than a year to develop a new brand through collaboration and research that included talking to the firm’s nearly 300 employees and interviewing dozens of clients and firm allies.
What resulted was a revamped brand and ad campaign that show off a crystalized message and highlights what Fastlane CEO Chris Faust picked up through outreach, surveys, and phone calls: “We kept hearing ‘we’re a law firm with a heart’ … the human side really started [to define] how we would architect the new brand,” he said.
Afanador, who’s worked in law firm marketing for more than two decades, noted that law firm branding is “so interesting because people are the product.”
“CSG Law is the brand but every single person is the brand, too, and every single person owns a piece of the brand,” she said.
CSG Law had “the right approach” with its rebranding, said Faust, by “doing the due diligence to the process and not rushing the brand development.”
The firm retained Fastlane in January 2020, and after a delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the companies picked up where they left on the rebranding project off last fall.
“Although things were put on hold during COVID … it really was grassroots. We wanted to hear the voice of the partners, the practice leaders, the employees to develop that brand essence,” he said.
Faust, who has worked with law firms, liquor companies, app developers, and retailers on brand creation and subsequent branding initiatives, said that branding often involves finding the qualities in a business worth highlighting and working to develop the examples to back it up.
“In this case, it wasn’t just developing language that we then have the develop the proof points on the back end. This was the opposite. They already had the culture, the service excellence. We were just caching up on the marketing or brand side,” Faust said. “When Fastlane gets involved, we’re developing a brand they have to develop into in the next five or 10 years. In this case, CSG is there. We just kind of had to pull it out and get on one page.”
Committing to the mission
The firm’s first-ever mission statement, established during this branding process, is “To deliver legal services with a commitment to excellence, empathy and respect in the pursuit of justice and client objectives.” Along with it comes a new vision statement: “To be a leader among New Jersey law firms with sights set on opportunities to grow and support client needs with forward-looking practices and continued investment in New York, the Mid-Atlantic and beyond.”
The branding process also outlined the firm’s core values, which include advocacy, kindness, and being invested, ethical and equitable.
“It means we have a foundation we’re all working off of together when we talk about the firm. The values statement shows how we’re different at that core, and what we all believe in jointly. Committing to the mission right now and our vision for five years down the road are really good things to have a unifying message,” Afanador said.
Five years ago, many of the firm’s lawyers were not yet there. Out of 175 lawyers, approximately half were brought on in the last five years. Forty of them have come on since CSG first retained Fastlane in January 2020.
“You need that unifying statement. It’s really important to bring people up to speed and together,” Afanador said.
Faust again said that the firm “did exactly the right thing” with the internal brand launch, noting “you want to create internal brand champions. [The] internal excitement created this springboard and platform to bring to [when we] externalize the brand.”
The internal launch began with a “thank you luncheon” firm members attended in late summer. A video debuting the brand launch was screened, which included quotes from firm members on their experience at CSG Law taken from Fastlane’s survey process. Much of what firm members said during these surveys revealed gratitude for CSG Law, which over the past year and change had managed to avoid subjecting them to the layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts seemingly ubiquitous in the business world during the pandemic.
One member was quoted saying, “I honestly did not believe a place like this could exist.”
“I’ve seen it like 50 times and I’m still moved. Those are things people actually said. The firm holds such a special place in peoples hearts and minds and spirits. It’s such a special thing. When we started reading those comments in the surveys we did, it changed how we were going to handle this process. It gave such a clear direction as to where were headed,” Afanador said.
On Nov. 15, CSG Law’s first rebranded advertisements were published in the print issue of NJBIZ.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article indicated that CSG Law has 125 lawyers, however the firm has 175. It was updated at 11:09 a.m. EST on Nov. 22, 2021.