Just as the Internet celebrated its 25th birthday, DuetsBlog turned five years old, a major milestone for the publication that covers trademark law with humor and constant creativity.
“It’s evolved over time. What has stayed consistent is our commitment to post something new and fresh, and to have something in our typical DuetsBlog style where we shed the legalese and speak in a way that’s engaging, informative and entertaining,” said Stephen Baird, lead writer of DuetsBlog and shareholder at Winthrop Weinstine in Minnesota.
With eight other writers, Baird said that DuetsBlog’s longevity and success is due to being able to publish a new post everyday. Over their five years, DuetsBlog has created a distinct lighthearted writing style that drops the jargon from trademark and copyright law. Aside from writing about high-end brands and their trademark disasters, the writers give a fresh perspective to in-the-news topics (like the Olympic Rings flub) to draw in lawyers and those just interested in trademarks.
“[The audience] is a mix, and that’s what really unique about DuetsBlog because it has really brought together two groups that would never otherwise spend a lot of time together. A substantial number of the readers are trademark lawyers and intellectual property lawyers who want to understand better the legal implications of branding, but there’s a group of readers who are non-lawyers,” said Baird. “We’re trying to strike a balance and have enough substance to be informative to our peers but also be engaging enough to also help inform non-lawyers.”
Part of finding that balance is not only being conversational, but also bringing in outside voices. One thing that has remained consistent about DuetsBlog has been inviting guest bloggers to write about social media, marketing and other aspects of trademark law. A guest blogger – Aaron Keller of Capsule – created Duey B. Lichtenstein, the squirrel and alter ego of DuetsBlog on the masthead. The outside writers gives Winthrop lawyers a day off from blogging while adding a new twist to the conversation.
“The whole concept to DuetsBlog was to facilitate a more graceful collaboration between legal and marketing types, and we hadn’t seen anyone really bridge that gap before. We thought the ideal way to help bridge the gap would to be to invite those in the marketing, branding and design world to have a voice on the platform that we were creating and that would facilitate dialogue,” said Baird.
The guests have helped build and retain some of the outside attention over the years, and has allowed the firm to build networks that probably wouldn’t exist without the blog. According to Baird, the blog was a major source of traffic for the firm’s main site.
“It’s definitely had many benefits that goes beyond making new connections that we never would otherwise have,” said Baird. “It puts our law firm is a very different position than every other competing law firm in town. We’ve really put something that provides instant recognition for those who write and the ability to communicate knowledge and expertise in an area. Also, it builds an online personality and a personal brand that is enormously valuable to young lawyers.”
Baird notes that the blog’s feedback has been a huge boost for the writers and overall branding. In their five years, DuetsBlog has gained the attention of Seth Godin – marketing expert and writer – who has become an occasional commenter over the past few months.
“In the moment, I said that it has inspired me to do this for another five years,” said Baird.
DuetsBlog aims to keep going for another five years even with their daily publication schedule, which Baird said the writers plan in advance. He also said that the blog is unlikely to run out of post ideas anytime soon.
“In the early days of the blog, some of my partners would ask that same question,” said Baird when asked how he and the other writers come up with daily ideas. “My response would always be that all you need to do is open your eyes. When I’m on the road, in the store or see a billboard sign, I see something different than what a marketing person would see. It’s almost a visual diary of trips that I’ve taken and things that I’ve seen to tell a trademark story. That’s what makes it so easy for me because I end up writing about topics that I think are important to me and to others, and hopefully they provide a bit of entertainment. There’s always something to learn from there.”
For large law firms looking to expand their blogging, Baird recommends that they focus on consistency and commitment.
“It’s important to be yourself and to write in a style that is liberating and not constrained or confining. All of a sudden it doesn’t feel like work; it feels like something that adds to your practice,” said Baird. “Probably the most important piece of advice is to figure out what it is that you’re comfortable committing to and stick to it.”