case studies

Thorntons: We do branding

Thorntons is big in Dundee. Its awareness is built on its reputation as the go-to-guys in Tayside for residential conveyancing and estate agency.

But it’s always been much more than that.

Thorntons’ legal services now cover an impressive range: including family, private client, business, rural & agricultural and immigration law, to name just a few. 

This was a story that was not being told.

Understanding the Brand.

Research and brand workshops showed that Thorntons’ people had a genuine pride in their Firm. Culturally, they liked the fact that they occupied a space miles away from the corporate aloofness of Edinburgh’s ‘legal establishment’: and at the same time had strong local roots in places like Montrose, Arbroath and Cupar.

Our research led to the creation of a comprehensive Brand Report based on our Brand Workshops including a game-changing brand promise.

Our Brand Workshops identified easily understandable values:

Excellence, open, professional, delivery, leadership and community-focused.

And achievable, realistic personality traits:

Pride, passionate, caring, approachable, reliable, ambitious.


There was a strong service-led proposition:

Thorntons exists to deliver success for its clients.


And that game-changing brand promise?

Thorntons act with integrity and humanity: a strong sense of justice and fairness.

The advice they give is not driven by financial gain, it is guided by what is the best solution for their clients. Why? Because like everything

Thorntons does, it’s the right thing to do.

This led to the Thorntons brand promise: We do what’s right.


The Campaign.

In January 2019 we launched the new brand campaign We do.

The primary objective was to create brand awareness, knowledge and understanding of Thorntons’ full legal offering across its East coast geography.

Two important insights guided the creative work. 

Firstly, Thorntons are untypical of the common perceptions of lawyers; they are genuinely warm, human and approachable. So we steered away from typical ‘lawyer speak’ – instead using language that was relatable to our audiences.

Secondly, we acknowledged that our modern-day sofa-surfing audiences are ambivalent to TV advertising. So, naturally we launched with a 50 second tv slot. But out went any detail: we told our story in the shortest amount of words. Less would prove to be more.

The advertising campaign took the single-minded brand promise of We do what’s right and used it as a construct to explain simply to our audience the extensive range of services Thorntons cover. 

All we wanted to do at this stage was create brand recall and awareness – and a nice warm feeling about a brand our audience knew little about. (Subsequent follow up departmental campaigns would drill down into details and benefits.) 


Again, less is more.



Scotpulse research tracked progress across the three bursts of activity in 2019.

The results overwhelmingly demonstrated that we had achieved our objectives. Especially in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Digby Brown who outspent Thorntons by 15-1 in 2019.

After burst three, the already market-leading awareness of Thorntons had increased in Dundee by 17% 

And in the extraordinarily competitive Edinburgh market, Thorntons secured joint-second in awareness with an increase of 67%. 

Prompted awareness in Edinburgh was up 52%. And advertising awareness more than doubled, up by 150%

Web traffic* dramatically increased YOY over the launch campaign period:

New users were up 37.2% 

Users increased by 35.9% 

Sessions went up by 40.7% 

And page views increased by 23.7% 

Alongside the campaign results, company growth had been remarkable as a 23% increase in staff numbers demonstrates. (Only 23% of which came from acquisition.) 

By September 2019, success was publicly acknowledged, with Thorntons climbing from fifth to fourth in Scottish Business Insider’s legal rankings – and fast-closing in on third.


As you can see, we not only do branding. We do results too.


*Source: Google Analytics 14th Jan 2019 - 31st Mar 2019