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Successfully Brand Your Law Firm With Strategy, Empathy, and Consistency

What’s in a Brand Identity?

You may not think of your legal practice as a “brand,” but just like Gap, Target, MasterCard, or Subaru, it is. Done well, a law firm brand creates a memorable picture of your firm, builds trust with current and potential clients, and helps your firm stand out in the legal industry. So how do you effectively manage your brand and develop a brand identity?

Successful brands share three common traits:

  1. A foundational strategy
  2. Acting in empathy
  3. Maintaining creative consistency

Below, we will discuss these three core facets of effectively building and managing your law firm’s brand.

Defining a Successful Law Firm Branding Strategy

The first step to establishing and maintaining a successful brand is developing a comprehensive brand strategy. Begin by thinking about your ideal clients: Who are they? What do they struggle with? How can you help them relieve their struggles? Using what you know about your clients, you can shape your brand to speak to and connect with them. Today’s legal consumer is more sophisticated than ever. In fact, 42% of people with legal issues research their situation online, and 10% of people who hire a lawyer continue to do legal research on their own. Everything you do should speak to your ideal clients, offer them helpful tools for addressing their legal issues, and direct them to your firm for help solving their problems.

The first step to establishing and maintaining a successful brand is developing a comprehensive brand strategy.

Many law firms struggle to build a brand that speaks to their ideal clients. For example, they might overemphasize accolades, board appointments, and recognition in the legal community. Unfortunately, these factors don’t resonate your target audience, because most people are skeptical of awards and can’t put them into context. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include them on your site, it just means that your Super Lawyers badge shouldn’t be your main selling point.

Instead, your law firm’s brand should be rooted in your perspectives and beliefs as attorneys and clearly communicate how you help clients meet their needs and solve their problems. This is known as your brand promise. It can include information about your track record of success, your ability to handle complex claims, and the empathy you have for people facing a tough legal situation. By leading with value statements that relate to your target audience’s current troubles, you’re establishing your firm as a human, helpful, and relevant brand.

The data supports this approach to branding. In a survey of over 1,500 people conducted by Casey Meraz, none of the people surveyed indicated that awards, recognition, or honors were important in their decision-making process. Instead, some of the top qualities people look for include ratings, results, ethics, honesty, trust, and competitive price. Another survey by FindLaw discovered that the four most important factors for potential clients included expertise (such as your years of experience and your practice areas), recommendations, cost, and trustworthiness.

Some of the top qualities people look for include ratings, results, ethics, honesty, trust, and competitive price.

In short, branding for law firms is not about how great you are; it’s about how great you are at meeting your potential clients’ needs.

Understanding Empathy and Applying It to Your Law Firm Brand

Successful brands understand their clients at a deep level. Your clients reach out to your firm in times of real need. Rarely does someone seek out legal services in a time of great joy. Time and again when we read and listen to testimonials from our most successful law firms’ clients, we hear, “he took care of me,” “she listened to me,” “he made me feel like I was his only client,” and “they treated me like I was part of the family.”

Bringing empathy into your branding process requires time and effort on the part of anyone who interfaces with your clients and potential clients — from your receptionists to attorneys and partners. The good news? There’s a good chance you and your firm are already operating with an empathetic approach to client service. You just need to integrate it into your branding strategy.

In short, branding for law firms is not about how great you are; it’s about how great you are at meeting your potential clients’ needs.

An empathetic approach isn’t limited to how you treat people who come through your doors. It’s also part of your logo design, the colors and design of your website, and the words you use to communicate your message. People are coming to your firm in their hour of need; everything client-facing needs to be human, helpful, and empathetic. Your brand’s messaging should speak to where consumers are, and reiterate the ways your law firm can help them solve their problems. Even the smallest details, like where a form appears on your website, your typography, or your color scheme communicate your brand message proposition on an unconscious level.

If you’re not sure how to bring your brand to life, it’s time to consider working with an experienced team to help develop your brand through logo design; brand colors and typography; mission, vision, and value writing; brand voice exercises; website development; and more.

RELATED: The 10 Essential Elements Your Law Firm’s Website Needs

Creating Branding Consistency for Your Law Firm

Once you’ve established a brand strategy, you’ll need to apply it consistently across all your assets and marketing efforts. Creating a set of clearly articulated brand guidelines can help. Your brand guidelines should outline how your law firm uses images, logos, typography, voice, and tone to express its brand.

If your brand is established, you’ll now need to perform a careful audit of all your branded assets (publications, web pages, social media profiles, directory listings, letterhead, etc.) to make sure they adhere to your brand guidelines and communicate a consistent, empathetic message to clients. For new brands, you’ll want to create new, branded assets that reflect your brand guidelines as you expand your online and offline presence.

Strategies for Maintaining a Consistent Law Firm Brand Identity

 

  1. Work in Campaigns: Marketing campaigns have a consistent central message or theme that is shared across platforms or outlets. For instance, a personal injury firm might launch a campaign trying to reach people injured in a car crash that includes paid advertising, sponsored Facebook posts, optimized organic content, and local billboards. Promoting a message through a campaign also gives you a tremendous amount of control over your messaging and the ability to measure campaign success through careful analysis.

 

  1. Meet Prospective Clients Where They Are: With consistent campaign messaging across digital and traditional outlets, you can share your message with potential clients wherever they are. Digital and traditional marketing tactics can work together to deliver a consistent, persuasive client experience. And even if people don’t need your services right away, your firm will be top of mind when they do. In fact, pairing a search engine optimization strategy with billboards boosts its effectiveness by an astounding 40%.

 

  1. Stay True to Your Values: The heart and soul of your brand is your firm’s unique position and perspective. Your brand has the best chance of staying consistent, recognizable, and trustworthy if it is based on values you truly believe in, rather than trends or personas you adopt to appeal to more people.

 

  1. Build Brand Champions: Once your client’s legal matter is resolved, it is not the end of their journey with your brand. Don’t forget to collect a positive review to post on your website, on social media, and everywhere else you can online. True success stories about real people will build brand equity with prospective clients faster than the best ad campaign ever will.

 

Consistent branding reinforces what you want to be known for no matter where the client meets you: in print, online, or even in conversation. When your brand effectively delivers on its promises time and time again to the people who interact with it, you will start to see the rewards of good strategy, empathetic legal service, and creative consistency. Those rewards include emotional connections, high-quality ratings, referrals from satisfied clients, a growing following of brand advocates, and — most importantly — trust.

Consistent branding reinforces what you want to be known for no matter where the client meets you: in print, online, or even in conversation.

Develop a Brilliant Legal Marketing Plan With LaFleur

At LaFleur, we’re proud to work with law firms from across the country, helping them develop strong brands that translate to more clicks, conversions, and clients. To learn how we can help your firm elevate your brand identity, reach your target clients, and stand out in a competitive legal industry, please don’t hesitate to reach out! Simply give our office a call at (888) 222-1512 or complete this brief online form.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

References

Kabiri, N. (2016). Sink or swim: How to adapt to the New Legal Consumer. Avvo. Retrieved from https://www.martindale-avvo.com/wp-content/uploads/how_to_adapt_to_the_new_legal_consumer_avvo_whitepaper_2016.pdf

Meraz, C. (2016, April 18). Hiring a lawyer: What potential clients really care about. Jurisdigital. Retrieved from https://jurisdigital.com/what-consumers-are-looking-for-before-hiring-a-lawyer/

Sesto, G. (2018, August 25). Out of Home by the Numbers: 64 Amazing Outdoor Advertising Stats. DashTwo. Retrieved from https://dashtwo.com/blog/out-of-home-by-the-numbers-64-amazing-outdoor-advertising-stats/

Wilson, M. (2014, July 29). FindLaw survey: 4 factors clients look for when hiring a lawyer. FindLaw. Retrieved from http://blogs.findlaw.com/strategist/2014/07/findlaw-survey-4-factors-clients-look-for-when-hiring-a-lawyer.html