Law Firm Branding: Four Steps for Building your Brand

The recent economic crisis has had significant impact on the competitive environment for lawyers and law firms. Clients are more discretionary with their financial resources and a larger number of lawyers are competing for a smaller number of clients.

To excel in a competitive market, lawyers need to effectively communicate to prospective clients and referral sources the answer to the question, why should I choose you?

Successful firms differentiate themselves and leave a memorable impression in the minds of their prospective clients and referral sources. This is achieved through an effective law firm brand.

For many lawyers, the term law firm brand is synonymous with logos and tag lines, symbols that are an outcome of a brand but are not the brand. An over reliance on a tag line, developed without a brand focus, can result in a generic, over used and indistinguishable message such as “experienced, caring and hard working law firm.”

Your law firm brand is your reputation and distinguishes you in the mind of your prospective clients and referral sources. A strong law firm brand will allow you to establish a significant and differentiated presence in your market that will attract desirable clients and referral sources.

Not creating a law firm brand can result in the following problems:

•   Other people will create your brand for you.
•   Your firm will not be distinguished in a competitive market
•   You will not attract clients who value what you do best
•   Marketing efforts will not be focused resulting in a lower ROI
•   Members of your firm may not be communicating a consistent message
•   Partners may be working on different strategies that drain resources and minimize results

If you want to avoid the above scenarios, consider taking the time to define your law firm brand. The following are four steps to help you get started:

  1. Schedule an off-site law firm retreat to answer five questions:
    1. Why does your firm exist? ( purpose)
    2. What do you hold to be true?( values)
    3. What do you aspire to achieve ( vision)
    4. What distinguishes you in the market?
    5. What type of clients do you want to attract?
  2. Develop a brand message ( marketing story)that will :
    1. Articulate your firm’s brand promise
    2. Create the brand voice- clarity and consistency of your key message
    3. Developing key messages
  3. Gain firm wide buy-in and excitement for law firm brand. Communicate your brand internally to entire law firm staff. Bring your values, purpose and vision to life with actual stories. Reinforce your commitment to deliver on your firm’s brand promise. Emphasize the importance of every staff member’s contribution to achieving the firm’s vision.
  4. Develop an integrated marketing and communications plan to consistently reinforce your brand to targeted clients and referral sources. You will see a greater return on your investment if all the components of your marketing plan work together and communicate a consistent message around your brand. The following are possible elements of your marketing and communication plan:
    1. Web site
    2. Logo identity and tag line
    3. Blog
    4. Press releases
    5. Articles and advertorials
    6. Social media
    7. Business development

Your brand is about being authentic and doing remarkable work, living your values and consistently delivering on your brand promise. This includes building trust and maintaining a reputation in alignment with your brand.

Reputation = Brand

A strong law firm brand will separate your firm from the rest, align employees around a common purpose and vision and support a focused and targeted marketing and communication strategy. Most importantly a successful law firm brand will allow you to build a profitable and fulfilling practice, one that attracts clients who value what you do best.

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