At Crisp, we’ve worked with hundreds of law firms across the country. And each of them had the same challenge: too much competition and no way to stand out.
We work with them to identify what it is that sets them apart — their branding.
In our years of experience working with the most ambitious attorneys in the legal industry, we have developed a unique discovery process of questions, stories, and interviews that all contribute to developing powerful, compelling brand messaging to help our clients stand out.
We’ve never shared that discovery process publicly before.
In this article we’ll give you the questions we ask to help our clients define their firm’s brand. We’ll give you everything you need to determine how you can stand apart, increase awareness of your law firm, and close more clients.
But first, you need to understand what branding actually is and why it is so critical for law firms.
- What is law firm branding?
- Why does law firm branding matter?
- What is branded search?
- The 6 questions we ask to define your law firm’s brand
What is law firm branding?
What comes to mind when you think of branding? Coke versus Pepsi, maybe?
Here’s the thing: effective branding is about more than just your logo and your brand colors.
Sure, visual identity is one aspect of branding. But at its core, branding is about the personality of your firm — the people who make up your firm and the qualities that make them who they are.
Let’s look at an example of legal branding in practice to give you a better idea of what we’re talking about:.
The LaBovick Law Group is a personal injury firm based in West Palm Beach. With over 500 other personal injury firms in his area, they’re surrounded by stiff competition.
Here’s a brand video that they use to differentiate their firm from that competition:
Notice Brian LaBovick doesn’t just say, “I’ll fight for you” (like every other personal injury lawyer).
In this brand video, he talks about how his personal experiences drove him to fight for the little guy.
This message informs the relationship that potential clients have with Brian. It resonates with them on a different level than any other characteristic might resonate.
They recognize in him his passion to stand up to bullies.
That message is tangible, emotionally compelling, and (for branding) a memorable way to engage with potential clients — far more than what you’d normally get from traditional legal advertising methods.
Once you have the brand, how do you get people to notice?
The answer is brand awareness advertising.
Advertise on every platform — on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Linkedin. Everywhere your target clients are.
Here’s an example of a brand awareness ad from the Frye Law Group:
Ads like this, shown to your target market, increase the number of people who know your firm’s name.
It’s difficult to predict who will need an injury lawyer before they need one (and thus effectively target them), but ads like this one can ensure you’re the only firm they think of when they’re unfortunate enough to have an accident.
Why does law firm branding matter?
Rather than share the benefits of branding on your law firm, let’s talk about the opposite.
What if you don’t build a strong legal brand? What happens if you stop engaging with your potential clients, perhaps believing that you have enough word-of-mouth attention or that your firm’s notoriety will spread naturally.
Here’s what happened when we stopped running our own brand awareness ads here at Crisp (the biggest marketing mistake we’ve ever made):
See that swan dive in late 2017? That’s when we got the bright idea to turn off our brand awareness ads. We were steadily growing, signing new clients, and planning our first Crisp Game Changers Summit. Things were going great.
Until they weren’t.
Here’s what you need to know: everything converts better when you have a strong foundation of brand awareness.
And everything performs worse when you pull back on building that foundation.
The online advertising experts at WordStream conducted an experiment to evaluate ad attribution modeling, and uncovered some startling results after pulling back on so-called “poor performing” ads:
What you’re seeing in this graph:
When Wordstream pulled back on their “poor performing” brand awareness ads, the conversions from every single one of their other advertising campaigns (lead generation, retargeting, direct consultation requests, etc.) plummeted.
Why? Because their target market stopped seeing their brand as frequently. They ceased to be top of mind.
While the “poor performing” brand awareness ads may not have been bringing in direct conversions, they were increasing the frequency that their target market was seeing their brand, and this improved conversions across the board.
It’s frustrating. How do you measure the impact of something that doesn’t have a clear connection to a new case conversion?
One way is by tracking your firm’s branded search volume.
What is branded search?
Have you heard other firms or businesses say, “We’re the best-kept secret in [X] city!”
Why in the world would you want to be the best-kept secret?
To be honest, being the best-kept secret is a fast path to the unemployment office.
But what does that have to do with branded search?
Branded search is when a prospective client searches for the actual name of your firm on Google, rather than “DUI lawyer LA,” for instance.
This means they already know who you are and what your firm is about. It means you are known, not a secret.
When you’re looking for a chili recipe on Google, you click on the link from “foodnetwork.com” before you click on “pinchofyum.com.” Why? Because you recognize the name.
It’s subconscious but powerful.
82% of searchers look for a brand they recognize in the search results, so even if they’re not searching your brand name directly, they’re looking for it when they type “DUI lawyer near me.”
So, even if you show up third or fourth on Google, clients are more likely to click if they recognize your firm name.
Branded searches result in 2X higher conversion rates over those broad terms like “DUI lawyer my city.”
So what’s the key to getting clients to search for your actual firm name?
Branding and brand awareness help attract the right type of clients to your firm — and keep your firm top of mind.
At Crisp, we’ve invested a lot of time and energy in publishing branded content and running brand awareness ads, and it’s made a massive difference in revenue.
For us, ranking for terms like “video marketing” or even “lawyer videos” isn’t necessarily going to bring us the most qualified clients — people could be searching for videos about how to become a lawyer or how to do video marketing for software companies.
Those aren’t our people.
But when people search for Crisp Video, we know they are looking for us. And there’s a good chance they know what we’re all about and are considering working with us.
Take a look at the graph below, which shows the rise in searches for our name over the past few years. You can see there has been a steady increase:
Now, how does that correlate to revenue?
We plotted the rise in organic search, social mentions, and social engagement (factors that contribute to what we refer to as “knownness”), and compared it to revenue.
The rise is nearly one-to-one:
Revenue is directly correlated to brand awareness. That is the true power of a successful brand identity.
When we talk about branding, it’s not just marketing jargon.
It’s about how well your prospective clients know you — and who they call when they need a lawyer.
6 questions we ask to define your law firm’s brand
You know your firm needs help to stand out in a sea of other lawyers — some who may have more experience, more attorneys, and higher winnings than your firm.
Branding helps you do that — and customers respond to branding.
Consistent branding across all your marketing materials can increase revenue by 23%. This means if you want to be seen as a personal injury lawyer who never backs down from a fight, your website needs to use powerful language — and so do your videos, social media accounts, and, yes, even billboards.
But how in the world do you figure out what your firm’s brand is?
Here are the questions we ask our clients to help firms define their brand and better connect to their ideal clients.
These questions have helped hundreds of law firms just like yours identify their differentiation factors — those things that set them apart from competitors.
These questions have helped increase case values by 2-10X (on average), double case loads, overwhelm intake teams with consultations, and grow law firms year after year.
Let’s get into it.
1. Who are you — personally and professionally?
At your core, who are you as a person and as a lawyer?
What drives you to get up every morning? What type of work do you find yourself engrossed in, so much that you don’t even notice the hours passing by?
What unique experiences or hobbies have impacted you in significant ways — enough that you bring those lessons into your law practice with you? What matters most to you?
These questions define who you are, and therefore who your firm is.
Take Schiffer Law Firm, for example. This father and son criminal defense team focuses on their shared passion for fishing in their brand messaging. They seamlessly tie in lessons learned on the lake together to the way they practice law together, humanizing and differentiating seamlessly:
2. Why did you go into law in the first place?
In Crisp Founder & CEO Michael Mogill’s bestselling book The Game-Changing Attorney, he talks about the story of Bruce Wayne — Batman.
Why makes Batman so great? Is it his vast wealth, genius intellect, or detective skills?
No, it’s because he uses those strengths to fight crime. He’s driven to put them to use for a cause close to his heart.
The reason Batman is great is because of his backstory. His parents were murdered by a mugger in front of his eyes when he was a child. This drove him to fight crime in Gotham City as Batman.
So what’s your backstory?
Did you witness a family member struggling after an accident of their own? Have a friend who lost custody of their kids? Suffer yourself in a car accident?
Or is it unrelated to the law entirely?
For instance, Crisp client Brian LaBovick (the brand video above) was bullied as a kid. It was that childhood hardship which drove him to pursue a legal career — protecting the underrepresented and disadvantaged.
This is your why, and it’s the best way to connect with your clients.
3. What do you love about the law and what you do?
What drew you to the type of law you practice? Do you like the underdog fight against insurance companies, making them do what is right? Do you enjoy protecting people’s futures when they are facing criminal charges?
These are the factors that set you apart — that make you the best at what you do.
Here’s a great example from Absolute Law, an estate planning firm whose founding attorney Sarah Elyaman masterfully weaves her family’s immigrant story into her motivation for practicing law:
4. Who is your target audience?
One factor of your target audience will naturally be the location and type of case. If you are a family law firm in Phoenix, then you are looking for cases related to that in your geographical area.
But dig a bit deeper.
- What matters to your ideal clients?
- What challenges are they facing?
- Who are they fighting?
- What are they fighting for?
- What emotions might they be experiencing?
When you understand who your target audience is, you can adjust your brand messaging to make sure it resonates.
5. What differentiates you from your competition? Why are you the best?
What makes you a better choice than any other law firm?
What challenges do most clients face in your field of law, and how do you handle things differently?
Remember, this shouldn’t be things that can be beaten — like years of experience or amount of settlements.
You may have 20 years of experience, but someone else has 22.
Don’t rely on these types of factors to set your firm apart. Think about factors that are more emotional, more personal — a brand promise.
- Were you (like Brian LaBovick) bullied as a child — motivating you to defend the little guy?
- Do you have a familial connection to the criminal or family courts?
- Do you have a hobby that exemplifies your approach to law?
- Was there a single case that defined your legal path?
- Have members of your family been lawyers for generations?
Here’s an example of the kind of messaging you can expect if you effectively answer this single question, from Buckhead Family Law:
6. What are your marketing and business growth goals?
We don’t just create videos; we create differentiation tools.
That means we never produce a video or develop an advertising campaign without understanding what your specific growth goals are. We create SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals that make it easier to tie marketing efforts to a measurable result.
What we really want to know is who you are as a firm — and where you want to go.
The best way to grow your law practice is to show the world who you are, and branding helps you do that.
Branding is more than choosing a cool logo or brand colors. It’s about laying out what sets you apart as a law firm and figuring out how to use that information to create connections with prospective clients.
Here’s the thing — clients can’t hire you if they don’t know you exist.
Don’t dismiss branding as elusive marketing jargon you don’t have time to focus on.
If you don’t take the time to focus on branding, you’ll find yourself with a lot more time on your hands — as clients hire your competitors over you.