Is your law firm uniquely identified and differentiated from the competition online?

The financial crisis that swept the nation last year shook the legal community deeply. Across the country, numerous law firms implemented pay reductions, reduced billable hours, froze new hires, and cut back on philanthropy in order to stay afloat.

The wake of these setbacks only instills the need for law firms to pay closer attention to their brand management. Strong branding translates directly into revenue and profitability for law firms as it increases market share and allows for premium pricing.

Your firm’s brand isn’t just your logo: it is the personality of your law firm, from the substantive focus of your legal practice to the way you treat existing clients, employees, and potential clients. Branding conveys a set of expectations associated with a law firm, and for the strongest and most successful legal brands, that set of expectations differentiates the law firm from its competitors and translates into a leadership position in the marketplace.

Once your brand image has been established, the key to aligning branding with increased revenues lies in a law firm’s effectiveness in diffusing its brand image in every aspect of the firm’s marketing efforts, and the online credibility of your law firm is as important to a brand as offline credibility.

A critical component of law firm branding is your firm’s center of online marketing and communication: your firm’s website. With more and more people searching for legal services online, not having a user-friendly and attractive website that is consistent with your brand image can cost your firm the opportunity to convert new visitors.

A legal website should reflect a firm’s brand image and be consistent in message and design with all offline marketing material and advertisements. When used correctly, a law firm website is an inexpensive method for promoting a firm’s services, and when search engine optimized, it serves as a marketing vehicle to expand your reach to prospective clients online.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important aspect of internet marketing that increases your website’s visibility by improving placement on organic search engine results. SEO can position your law firm above the competition resulting in an unmatched method for advertising and promoting your firm.

Be sure to update your website with profile cases, upcoming speaking engagements, news, articles, commentary regarding new laws, and lawyer biographies. These regular medications emblemize a law firm’s credibility validation. In other words, it demonstrates that the attorneys are leaders who are current in their areas of expertise.

Implementing a legal content management system eases the process of having an up-to-date website. A Legal CMS automates the crucial processes of integrating new updates, ensuring search engine visibility, as it multi-tasks as an automated Internet marketing instrument, syndicating events, news and other legal matters to search engines.

In conjunction with having a user-friendly and search engine optimized legal website, it is critical that your law firm has a strong presence on social media networks.  A successful website will receive as much traffic from law firm social marketing as it does from search engines, and a comprehensive social media program is necessary to achieve this. Social media sites have the ability to steer clients to your website, send targeted messages, establish your brand online, and create an open line of communication between your law firm and your clients.

A recent survey from communications consultancy Greentarget notes that, “While the more traditional marketing channels for law firm credentialing continue to dominate . . . in-house attorneys now are using new media platforms to deepen their professional networks; to obtain their legal business and industry news and information; and to enrich their social and personal lives. Most importantly, they expect that trend to accelerate in the future.”

One of the best ways to put a face and voice on your legal expertise is to blog. When done correctly, building a credible discussion resource on legal topics can boost credibility, attract new clients, maintain current clients, and build your reputation as a leader in the legal industry. Making regular blog updates ensures search engine exposure and provides an informative experience for existing or prospective clients. Moreover, blogs are an inexpensive, yet highly effective catalyst for bolstering your law firm brand management campaign.

In conclusion, building an outstanding brand for your law firm involves commissioning a presence that is properly thought through, from your website content and design to the way you treat your clients and employees. Law firms that build strong brands attract the most prestigious clients, and consequently, they are among the most profitable law firms in the world.

Developing a consistent and identifiable marketing brand online is crucial to developing brand recognition and promoting your law firm. Infusing your brand into your website and logo, and then carrying that brand consistently into other areas such as social media marketing and other marketing materials will help instill a professional and recognizable brand for your law firm that sets you apart from the crowd and increases your online presence.

Guest contributor Lauren Pesko is Internal Marketing Associate for Auctori:law.

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