A Beginner’s Guide to Branding Your Law Firm
9–11 minutes to read
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 or 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. For example:
“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 from anyone else in your geographic market?
- If I need a lawyer, why should I call your firm?
- What is your unique story?
- What is your message?
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.
Not sure what questions you should be answering to get at your own unique value proposition (UVP)? Don’t worry, we’ve put together the perfect worksheet for you to dial in on what makes you special and hone your message. Download the Law Firm’s Guide to Determining Your Unique Value Proposition below!
Let’s dive deeper into the basics of branding for your law firm.
Your Law Firm’s Brand
Many law firm owners think of themselves as attorneys first. What’s important to recognize, though, is that your law firm is a business, and you need to bring in new clients in order to drive revenue and create success for your firm.
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 how you handle administrative tasks.
Chances are, you understand why your firm must be run like a business. But have you considered the importance of your firm as a brand?
What is a brand? Your brand is the impression you make on those who come into contact with your firm in any way — whether it’s an advertisement, walking into your office, or talking to a friend about you. Your brand is a consistent, distinct portrayal of your services that allows potential clients to understand what your firm is really about.
In a recent episode of The Game Changing Attorney Podcast, Hall of Fame Trial Lawyer Mike Papantonio, also known as America’s Lawyer, spoke to the importance of branding for law firms, and what he considers to be a part of his brand.
The most important aspect of your brand is knowing what will 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, whether it’s a visit to their store, viewing their website, or interacting with one of their representatives, 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 on your team.
Let’s say you’re in a car accident and perform a Google search for a personal injury attorney. You see that there’s a small firm nearby that specializes in car accidents, so you click through to their website.
- The website is slow to load on your mobile phone.
- There are no photos of their attorneys.
- It doesn’t look like the site has been updated in the last few years.
- It’s hard to tell if they are even open still.
You leave the site, not really understanding who they are and how they can help you. Though that firm might have the best attorneys, they didn’t make much of an effort to show you. The firm lacked the branding necessary to appeal to you, a potential client with no previous knowledge of the firm.
So, you go back to Google and click on another firm’s website.
- The design is sleek, modern, and it loads quickly.
- There are biographies and photos 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.
- They make their active social media presence known.
- They have a lot of really positive reviews on Facebook and Google.
This firm has refined their branding strategy.
Which firm would you pick from the two? It’s undeniable that the second firm is much more appealing to any potential client. Here’s a great example from one of our clients, Alexander Shunnarah, with an awesome brand video, and an effective website to go along with it.
Beginner Tips for Branding Your Law Firm
Branding is vital for any successful law firm. That much is obvious. Now, where do you start? Most attorneys are not branding experts, after all.
Tip #1: spend some time answering the following questions. Use your own judgment, ask associates at your firm, and rely on past clients for insight. Their answers may surprise you.
- 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?
Tip #2: 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 and filled with legalese, that indicates brand inconsistency.
Before you build a brand concept, you have to reconcile these inconsistencies. This might challenge the ideas you previously held about your firm. 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.
Consider this: if you want to brand yourself as high-end or sophisticated, but you are a personal injury attorney specializing in car accidents, it might not be in your best interest. If your target audience is made up of people injured in a car accident, this casts a very wide net. You will need to appeal to a broader audience, as adopting a sophisticated, high-end feel may alienate a segment of potential clients.
Tip #3: When building a strategy for the brand you want to evoke, always keep your ideal 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 ideal client. This will help you define a strategy that’s more successful at winning you new business from the right audience.
A great strategy some of our clients use is client testimonial videos. There’s no better way to reach your ideal client than by showing them an example of someone you helped who was in their exact shoes.
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 piece of branding your law firm is to write a brand statement. Think of this like a mission statement — 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 in its messaging. Your potential clients should understand almost immediately what makes you stand out.
- Realistic for your target audience. Understand who your client is and what type of branding will work best for your firm.
- Differentiated from your competitors. 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 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
Take this example of The Law Offices of Polly Tatum. A caring, approachable family law attorney with personal experience that influenced her decision to focus on this practice area, who will guide you through a difficult time with compassion:
Implement Branding Elements
A branding element is any touchpoint, visual or auditory, that influences how a person feels about your firm. Now that you’ve covered your basic understanding of branding and concept, you’ll need to list every branding element your firm already has — and what you still need. It should look something like this example.
Branding elements we already have:
- A website with an updated design and great functionality
- A logo
- Office decor and environment
- A direct mail letter to send to each new client
- Intake process
- Radio ads
- Billboard ads
- Involved in community events
Branding elements we need now:
- A brand video to showcase on the website
- Attorney profile photos and bios
- Active social media channels
- A more distinct tone for the brand
- Profiles on sites like Avvo, Justia, and FindLaw
- News coverage about the firm
- More content pieces to distribute across channels
- More 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 associates 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 to be done.
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 brand new 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.
Additional Tips for Branding Your Law Firm
- 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/