What Does Law Firm Branding Really Mean?
Great branding communicates your law firm’s ethos, authority, and character. Unfortunately, far too many firms skip the process of developing a robust brand, weakening their reputation, presentation, and client base in the long run.
Even if you’re ready to take a look at your law firm’s branding, you might not know where to start. Fortunately, with a little help, you can develop a brand that not only stands the test of time but resonates with your ideal clients as well. In this article, we’ll outline the process for creating branding that builds trust and loyalty with your clients: past, present, and future.
Your Brand Identity Matters
Today’s legal consumer spends more time than ever researching their issues online. In fact, most people set out with the goal of resolving their legal issue themselves before discovering they need an attorney’s help. Successful branding (and marketing) can help you become their trusted source for legal information—and the only place they’ll turn when they’re ready to hire a lawyer.
What Is Law Firm Branding?
Merriam-Webster defines “brand” as “a public image, reputation, or identity conceived of as something to be marketed or promoted.” However, we think that definition glosses over the importance of branding and how it impacts your clients’ decision-making. Your brand is more than a logo, font, or color palette; it’s your public-facing persona and guides how people see you.
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Suppose you were just in a truck wreck and you need a lawyer. You start researching truck accident attorneys on the internet and click on a firm’s website. The (fictitious) firm, Dewey, Cheatem & Howe uses dark imagery and has an angry tone. The site talks a lot about the firm’s lawyers and their monetary success, but it doesn’t discuss its clients much. Even its client reviews focus on numbers and results rather than the client experience. In short, the firm focuses on its partners and their power.
Now, imagine you visit another law firm’s site. (We’ll call this one Webster, Webster & Cohen). This website uses brighter colors and talks practically about people’s legal issues. In addition to discussing case results, there are client testimonial videos that highlight Webster, Webster & Cohen’s communication skills, empathy, and intelligence. The firm’s content has a warm tone, explains difficult concepts in plain English, and its frequent calls to action encourage you to contact the firm with your questions.
Your brand is more than a logo, font, or color palette; it’s your public-facing persona and guides how people see you.
What is each firm trying to express with its design and content choices? How do they make you feel?
Dewey, Cheatem & Howe’s brand is aggressive and grounded in its clients’ desire for strength and bravado. While some people will love this messaging, others might find it too impersonal and calculating. Hopefully, the firm knows its target audience well and has made intentional decisions about its imagery, voice, and tone.
In comparison, Webster, Webster & Cohen’s brand is client-focused and empathetic. The firm is marketing itself as a source of empowerment and hope and thinks that its target audience wants reassurance and education.
What Does Branding Do for My Law Firm?
Having a cohesive brand experience can help you and your firm:
- Build trust: Your brand should closely align with your law firm’s approach. If you call Dewey, Cheatem & Howe, looking for a no-holds-barred fighter, and find yourself talking to a soft-spoken lawyer who wants to discuss the subtle nuances of your legal issues, you’d be dissatisfied. Branding should reaffirm your values in every interaction with a lead or client. According to a 2019 report, 81 percent of consumers said trusting a company is a major consideration when they purchase goods and services.
- Grow loyalty: Odds are you are not the only law firm available in your region. Developing your firm’s voice and values—and expressing them through branding—can attract new clients, encourage them to stay, and even transform them into brand ambassadors in the future.
- Create a competitive edge: The legal landscape is competitive and crowded. Identifying the reasons why you rise above the rest and communicating them through branding is paramount.
A solid brand foundation that is built with clarity and consistency will help set your law firm apart from the competition, while also giving clients the peace of mind that you are the best choice for their case.
More Than Just a Logo: How to Build Your Brand’s Foundation
While many lawyers may be aware of general marketing concepts, your education and experiences are rooted in communicating with other lawyers and judges. However, most of your clients are non-lawyers, meaning your brand needs to successfully convey the reasons why the average person should choose your firm.
Even if you feel like you have strong word-of-mouth messaging or have established solid long-lasting relationships, it is important to continually evaluate the core values that make you stand out against the competition. You may be surprised to discover that defining your law firm’s brand involves introspection. To start, you’ll need to reflect on your values, mission, voice, and audience.
What Does Your Law Firm Stand For?
Your brand should clearly express your values and mission. You probably didn’t go to law school to make a quick buck. If you’re like our clients, you have a deep-seated respect for the law and want to help people solve their most complex problems. The practice of law is one of the hardest (and personally rewarding) professions out there, but lawyers’ missions and values too often get glossed over, even though they can be some of the most compelling selling points for potential clients.
What Sets Your Firm Apart?
What makes your firm unique? Are you known for aggressive tactics or for your brilliant oral arguments? Do you have a reputation for working closely with clients or and holding wrong-doers accountable? These differentiators will positively establish your brand and distinguish it from the competition.
Who Are Your Firm’s Ideal Clients?
While it would be nice to serve every person that needs help, that is neither feasible nor realistic. Many law firms have a niche practice, whether it’s personal injury, divorce, or intellectual property—and you want to reach people with very specific needs and legal questions.
However, when you’re thinking about your ideal clients, you need to dig deeper than just “truck wreck victims.” Think about your clients’ jobs, lives, constraints, and needs when you build client personas. Personas are the fictional examples of your client base. For example, a personal injury law firm might use these two personas when building their marketing strategies and brand guidelines:
- Laura Santos: A 45-year-old teacher and mother of two, Laura was in car crash with a drunk driver. She doesn’t have a lot of free time during the week, so Laura hasn’t really researched lawyers or scheduled consultations. However, the insurance company is pressuring her to settle, so she’s getting anxious about her case. She’s relatively comfortable with technology and would prefer to text her lawyer than book an in-person appointment. Laura values efficiency and results rather than handholding.
- Marvin Jones: A 55-year-old electrician, Marvin had been planning on retiring in five years, but he suffered a serious back injury on the job recently. His doctors have told him he needs a fusion surgery, but he’s nervous and would rather try other options first. Marvin takes a lot of pride in his job, and he’s worried that he’ll never get back to work. He hates using the computer and was referred to the firm by his union. Marvin isn’t the “suing type,” but his medical bills are starting to pile up.
Ask yourself, what concerns do these two people have in common? What messages will resonate with them? How does your law firm best serve their needs? While your overarching brand should speak to both Laura and Marvin, you may use different tactics to reach them, and that’s okay. (For more information about content marketing tactics, check out our ebook, Understanding Your Potential Client’s Journey: A Comprehensive Approach to Digital Marketing.)
Why Do Your Clients Choose Your Law Firm?
Take some time to talk with clients past and present about the factors that attracted them to your law firm, the experiences they’ve had with other lawyers, and the reasons why they decided to place their trust in you. What do they need? What are they seeking? What keeps them awake at night? Once you have those answers, you’re ready to communicate the resonant values to potential new clients.
For instance, if you know you want to target clients like Laura Santos, emphasize your process, results, and technology capabilities. If you want to target someone like Marvin Jones, consider emphasizing your value propositions, especially if part of your ethos is standing up for the working man when the worst kind of accident happens.
Use Your Core Values to Inform Consistent, Powerful Assets
Colors, shapes, and words matter. The look and feel of your assets, from your logo, to your website, to your social media, and the photography you use should reflect your mission and values. Your values should be clear and persuasive on every channel—including billboards or TV ads—so when potential clients encounter your firm, they immediately recognize it as yours.
However, it can be challenging to build social media channels, compelling website design, effective copy, and other assets when your wheelhouse is law, not marketing. Therein lies the value of working with an agency like LaFleur. We can help you build a strong brand foundation, including outlining your driving principles, identifying your ideal clients, creating client personas, designing and writing effective assets, and setting you on the path to digital marketing success. And when you work with our team, you’ll own everything we create on your behalf.
Your values should be clear and persuasive on every channel—including billboards or TV ads—so when potential clients encounter your firm, they immediately recognize it as yours.
LaFleur Marketing Can Help Your Law Firm’s Brand
At LaFleur, we’re proud to partner with law firms across the country, developing strong brands that stand the test of time. Our experienced team of skilled writers, designers and strategists are happy to guide you through every step of the process, from design and development to copywriting and social media, so you can feel confident and empowered about your marketing deliverables.
We look forward to speaking with you!
Brand (n.d.). Merriam-Webster. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/brand
Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: In Brands We Trust? (2019, June 18). Edelman. Retrieved from https://www.edelman.com/research/trust-barometer-special-report-in-brands-we-trust