David Stokes

IN CONVERSATION WITH DAVID STOKES

We spoke to David Stokes, founder and Managing Director of Lawable, about his brand journey with HERRON + CO.

David, we’d love to hear about your journey; what led you to create Lawable?

I’m a solicitor and I specialise in what I call personal law, which includes wills, powers of attorney, trusts, probate and estate planning. I have 11 years experience working across three different law firms — a niche commercial firm, a high street firm and a multinational firm. It’s given me a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t — and the importance of embracing changes, especially the way that technology is coming into support legal services.
I decided it would be easiest to help embrace and implement change at my own law firm. What I’m hoping to do is build on the 11 years experience I have, pick up on all the best bits that I’ve seen from working within other firms and also be really forward-thinking with the approach.

When you first contact HERRON + CO, what was the challenge — or challenges — you were looking to solve?

While I understood what I wanted to do with the business I couldn’t really visualise it. I couldn’t picture in my mind what I was calling it. Looking back on my notes at the time, I was just calling it the ‘firm’. I didn’t have a name in mind. My wife and I spent hours trying to think of one, and every time we did, someone else had already chosen it — it was challenging. I needed someone with those skills who could put a name to the business as well as the brand and messaging.

How did you find the naming, design and branding process? Can you take us through that journey?

I’ll be honest, it was really a leap of faith. I’d seen what the team had done with another law firm and I’d quite liked that. I didn’t want to steer it; I didn’t want to be a lawyer saying what I thought it should be. The team at HERRON + CO are the experts — I just let them drive the process forward.

To start with we had a meeting, as lawyers do I just rambled on as they asked questions. I think they were shifting through the drivel and were picking up the bits that could start to pull together what I was trying to achieve. It was in some ways a lawyerly process; there was a set method to doing it which made it easier for me to understand. We’d start with brainstorming and ideas, they’d ask me the questions, get the information they needed, go away to think about it and present it back to me at each stage.

After that first stage they came back to me with nine names, which was quite exciting. I could have picked any of the nine but I went with Lawable because it seemed to be quite fitting.

Andy, how did you come up with the name ‘Lawable’?

It was quite an interesting process. As David said, there were nine names that we presented — I must have actually developed on rafts and rafts of scribbled layout pad.

The naming process is tricky. What makes it difficult is the landscape for brands and names is pretty saturated at the moment with all kinds of different brands. URLs are all taken up — it’s quite tough. You need to approach names from a lateral point of view. What we did was look into all the various attributes and virtues that David was wanting to bring into the legal sphere, but also look at the services and the capabilities that Lawable would ultimately be delivering. Things around personal law, things around sort of specific aspects like probate, trust, wills — all these words can then feed into a sort of melting pot of different ideas. And what I did there was really just sort of play with words, play with letters, so that we established territories of names — some names that spoke more towards the personal aspect, some names that spoke more towards law that is easy to access and use.

One of the main drivers was a point David made when we were having our first of conversations, which was: I want this to be hassle-free. That’s a fantastic, simplistic standpoint — but a really powerful one.

Lawable ultimately came out of the idea of personal law being doable, being accessible and being easy to use for clients. And that’s kind of where it came from.

Lawable logo

Back to you David. How did your values translate into the brand strategy?

One of the key values right up front was clarity. Whether it was around the language or drafting up documents or speaking to clients — it was very important to me that it was going to be easy and clear to understand.

I think that’s a good example to then see how a value was translated into the brand. With the logo there’s no intricate imagery. It’s just nice and clear. It works with any colour schemes. You can see that value trailing through everything we did.

Another value was transparency. I was very keen that I wanted to be transparent. So the way I deal with clients day in day out — there’s nothing to hide for, for better, for worse, this is how I do things. And hopefully, clients will buy into that. That fed into the website — so for example, we’ve included a fees page on what we do and what we charge for it. There’s nothing to hide, it’s all there for you.

Andy, what was the idea behind the brand identity solution?

We wanted to create an identity that was simplistic in its aesthetic, but also friendly, inviting, warm and accessible for the people experiencing it. Also create something that was client-focused in that they could see their world back in the brand. We wanted to also leverage proprietary visual styles as well. Through this idea of wanting to create a more kind of softer, accessible aesthetic, we looked at illustrations — those illustrations would then be able to represent a diversity of different clients’ experience and scenario. It was very much about creating something that people could feel comfortable with and reassured by.

What advantage does this brand identity solution give to the brand and to Lawable as a company?

For me it speaks the brand’s truth. It expresses, very sincerely, a hassle-free and easy-to-use experience.

The people who are going to be coming to Lawable to deal with their personal legal affairs are going to be under a fair amount of stress. The experience can be quite uncomfortable and perplexing — and there are concerns around it. If you have those concerns as a client and you come to Lawable you’re immediately faced with a sort of comfort.

What it delivers is putting clients minds at ease, so that they can then sort of embark on this journey with Lawable without feeling anxious or concerned about the things that big things are happening in their lives.

What was it that you wanted to achieve for David and his new brand?

Certainly one aim was to take everything David wanted to achieve — all his objectives and all his vision for his new brand — and make that something that can satisfy his ambition, and also start to build trust with the client base.

At the same time, we also had a real enthusiasm for David’s situation. We felt that this was an individual who was stepping out of the job role of being an employee at a law firm with these innovative ideas of how law can be done and how the business can be run. We wanted to help David take his first steps on that journey confidently and with the best brand foundation that he could have.

The kind of work we’ve done for Lawable in many respects because it is a new law firm , and there aren’t that many new law firms popping up. For us, it was a great opportunity to support, empower and build a fantastic foundation for a startup law firm to then be able to get out there with the same kind of brand power as a bigger firm would have. There was such an enthusiasm from us to really start with a blank page. And every step along that journey was just a lovely step of co-creation with David. Constant conversations, really good input and feedback from David on where we were taking things.

Lawable brochures

What are your ambitions for the company — and what’s the impact you’d like it to have?

I suppose you have to have lofty ambitions, don’t you? Long term, I think this is a firm and a brand that can become synonymous with personal law. It’s a simple, memorable name, it’s a simple, memorable brand, but it’s very effective. And hopefully, that’s mirrored in the way that we’re going to do business.

I think in terms of realistic day-to-day ambitions I’m excited to see clients start to refer the firm to other people, based on — hopefully — an enjoyable experience.

What’s the feedback you’ve had on the website and brand so far?

Very positive. The main response I’m getting back is that it looks professional. It’s not the kind of brand and imagery that you would typically see coming from a new startup.

While the loftier ideas around branding are important, there are also the day-to-day practical issues that as a founder you’re going to come across. Things like your letterhead, your email signature, your business cards; you’ve got a lot of plates spinning and you’re not always able to think of everything you need. Thankfully the team at HERRON + CO were doing that already. It made my job a lot easier — as well as making it a lot simpler to get things off the ground, which for a startup is crucial.

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For more information about our work with Lawable, read the case study

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