The Beginner’s Guide to Branding Your Law Firm
We’re proud to have partnered with Postali to present a beginner’s guide to branding your law firm. Postali helps lawyers across the country grow their business through targeted direct mail campaigns, award-winning web design, and digital marketing management. Check out their tips on branding your firm below:
How would you describe your law firm to someone who has no idea who you are and what you do?
You might start with the size of your firm, where you’re located and what practice areas you specialize in. You might talk about the attorneys at your firm and their experience, or you may describe your firm in terms of the types of clients you help.
“We’re a small personal injury firm in Pittsburgh with over 20 years of experience helping those injured in car accidents, at their workplace or as a result of medical malpractice,” you might say.
But there are more important questions:
What makes your firm different than anyone else in your geographic market?
If I need a lawyer, why should I call your firm?
Maybe it’s exceptional service and your commitment to always being available to your clients. It may be experience in a unique field of law that most firms don’t have. Perhaps it’s a reputation for providing aggressive defense in a courtroom.
Your Law Firm’s Brand
Most law firm managing partners or owners think of themselves as attorneys first. They also recognize that they’re a business, with a need to bring in new clients and revenue in order to keep the firm successful.
Running a business is the act of making decisions to increase the profitability of your firm. It’s how you hire, how you price your services, how you budget your expenses and handle administrative tasks.
Chances are, you think of your firm as a business. But you probably don’t consider your firm a brand.
What’s a brand? Your brand is the impression you make on those who come into contact with your firm in any way – through seeing an advertisement, walking into your office or talking to a friend about you. Your brand is a consistent, distinct point-of-view that serves as a way for potential clients to understand what your firm is really about.
The size of your firm, practice areas, and locations are not your brand. They’re things that describe your firm, but they alone will not compel a potential client to pick up the phone and call you.
Think about your favorite brand. You love it because you had a positive experience that has earned your respect and business. Every interaction you have with the brand, be it a visit to a store, viewing their website or talking to a person who works there, evokes a positive feeling. You know exactly what they’re all about and what to expect.
People are making similar judgments about your law firm. Sometimes these judgments occur before they even speak to someone there.
Let’s say I’m in a car accident and perform a Google search for a personal injury attorney. I see that there’s a small firm nearby that specializes in car accidents, so I click through to their website.
The website is slow to load on my mobile phone. I don’t see any photos of the attorneys and it doesn’t look like the site has been updated in the last few years. Are they even still open? I leave the site, not really understanding who they are and how they can help me.
Perhaps that firm had the best attorneys, but they didn’t make much of an effort to convince me of that. The firm lacked the branding and marketing necessary to appeal to me, a potential client with no previous knowledge of the firm.
I go back to Google and click on another firm’s website. The design is sleek and modern and I can read biographies of all of the attorneys. The firm has won multiple awards and has over 20 years of experience in car accidents. There are videos of the attorneys discussing complex insurance issues in a friendly manner. They seem experienced but approachable. I notice they have an active social media presence as well. They have a lot of really positive reviews on Facebook and Google, which I make sure to read through.
This firm has refined their branding strategy. As a result, they’re much more appealing to me as a potential client looking to retain the services of a law firm.
How to Brand a Law Firm: Beginner Tips
Even if you recognize the need to improve your firm’s branding, you’re not sure where to start. You’re an attorney, not a branding expert, after all.
Before getting started, it’s important to spend time answering the following questions. You can even ask other employees at your firm or past clients for insight. Their answers may surprise you.
Law Firm Branding: Questions to Ask
- Who is my target client?
- What impression do I want people to have of my firm?
- How do I want my clients to feel?
- What makes us different?
- How are my competitors branding themselves?
Next, review your answers and look for inconsistencies. For example, if you’re a personal injury attorney who wants to give people the impression that you’re approachable but your website is written in a formal or passive tone with a lot of legalese, that indicates a branding inconsistency.
Before you build a brand concept, you have to reconcile these inconsistencies. This often challenges what you thought your firm was about. Embrace this challenge, as it means you’re working toward building a better brand.
Aligning your business objectives, your target client’s point-of-view and your branding strategy is crucial to the success of your law firm.
For example, you may want to brand yourself as high-end or sophisticated. However, this may not work if you’re a car accident attorney. As a car accident attorney, your target client is anyone injured in a car accident, which casts a very wide net. By adopting a sophisticated, high-end feel, you’re alienating potential clients.
When thinking about the brand you want to evoke, always keep your target client in mind and make decisions that will resonate with them. It’s tempting to want to build a brand you like, but remember that you are not necessarily your target client. This will help you define a strategy that’s more successful at winning you new business from the right client.
Be honest about who you are and think about one or two unique aspects of your firm that you can build a brand on. If every firm in your area charges similar fees, including yourself, there is no appeal to building a brand around affordable fees.
Building Your Brand Concept
A crucial first step to branding your law firm is to write a brand statement. Think of this like a mission statement. Keep it a short explanation of who you are, who you serve and one or two of the most important adjectives that describe your approach.
Law firms who do this well are firms that have a deep and realistic understanding of who they are and who their clients are. Use your questionnaire to help you do this.
Your brand should be:
- Consistent across all touchpoints. Your law firm’s website, social media and other ads should all look like they belong to the same firm.
- Clear. Your potential clients should understand almost immediately what makes you stand out.
- Realistic. Understand who your client is and what type of branding will work best for your firm.
- Differentiated. Look for gaps in the market and try to adopt a brand that no one else in your area is doing.
Here are some examples of brand concepts:
- An aggressive, small criminal defense firm who will fight for you and work tirelessly on your case, keeping you informed every step of the way
- A caring, approachable family law attorney who will guide you through a difficult time with compassion
- A small town, family-owned general practice law firm who has a history of providing the best service to every client at an affordable rate and enjoys giving back to the local community
- The personal injury attorney who uses humorous ads, catchy slogans and over-the-top videos to get your attention and let you know that they won’t get paid unless you get a settlement
So, you have a brand concept. Now what?
This is where the real work starts.
List every branding element your firm has (or needs.) A branding element is any touchpoint, visual or auditory, that influences how a person feels about your firm. A list may look like this:
My overall website experience, including its content, design, and functionality
- My logo
- A direct mail letter
- My office décor and environment
- My firm’s intake process and tone
- A billboard ad
- A radio ad
- Social media properties
- Profiles on sites like Avvo, Justia, FindLaw
- News coverage about my firm
- Community events my firm is involved with
- Client reviews
Now, evaluate every branding element for how closely it adheres to your brand standards. For example, you cannot claim to be the “cool, hip, approachable attorney” if your law firm’s website is outdated. You can’t be a sophisticated, high-end brand if your social media profiles are full of memes and humor. You can’t be the friendly, down-to-earth attorneys if walking into your office makes people feel intimidated.
This can be difficult to do objectively. Solicit the opinions of marketing experts, your clients or your firm’s employees during this stage.
Set a Plan
By now, you have an idea of the brand you want to convey and the branding elements that need to be developed.
Prioritize your efforts based on your budget and the amount of work that needs doing. Building a brand may mean you need to make a few minor updates to your website, or it could mean completely redesigning your logo, website, and branding materials. You may need to shift the type of content you share on social media, or you may need to start from scratch and build a social media presence.
Whatever your needs are, create a realistic plan and make sure you have the resources, internally or through an agency, to handle it. This requires time, effort and a budget. Brand strategy is not a week-long process. It can take years to build your brand into something that matches your vision.
- Don’t be afraid to be unique or different. If your brand stands out, people will remember it.
- Understand that brands evolve, so make a point to re-evaluate your branding at least annually.
- Incorporate brand training into your onboarding process. Remember that your intake process and how clients are greeted when they walk into the office are part of your brand. Your office culture is also part of your brand. Ensure that it’s consistent with the marketing message you’re sending.
Julie Howell is a Marketing Director at Postali. Postali helps lawyers across the country grow their business by targeted direct mail campaigns, award-winning web design and digital marketing management including SEO, PPC, public relations, legal content writing and social media. Learn more at https://www.postali.com/