It is so important for law firms to take the time to dedicate some resources to creating a strong logo—one that accurately represents what a law firm and its attorneys have to offer. But a logo is just one piece of a firm’s overall branding strategy.
A brand is one of those words that is used widely but not always completely understood. In fact, the definition of what a brand actually is has evolved with time.
So What Is a Brand?
To put it simply, a brand allows a firm to assert how it wants others to see it, through the voice, vision, and visuals it uses in its marketing materials.
At its core, a law firm’s brand makes a number of promises to clients. In almost all cases, a law firm should use its brand to demonstrate that it offers certain values, quality, and consistency. It also tells your clients how their lives will be improved by buying your services. A law firm brand has its own style, voice, and persona, and ideally it should set off some sort of emotion when clients come across it.
A big-box retailer, for example, might have a brand that tells people they can expect to get great deals for their money. A high-end clothing boutique, on the other hand, will use its brand to parlay a sense of style and sophistication—that customers will pay more, but will get unparalleled quality in exchange.
It’s important to understand, however, that a brand is far from stagnant. It is a living, breathing and constantly evolving entity, and it may take several forms as time goes on and styles and client preferences change. For that reason, you need to be constantly aware of these shifts and ensure that the brand you create and maintain is always relevant and engaging.
Consistency Leads to Brand Recognition
The ultimate goal of branding is instant recognition from clients when they see your logo, colors, and visuals. Your social media followers and potential clients should immediately think or feel something positive once they experience your brand. And they should not always immediately associate your brand with a specific product or service—it should be a separate entity that represents all that your firm has to offer.
So how can you create a powerful brand? For one, your brand should have some sort of personality. Know what you want your firm to be and how you want people to view it. If your services are in a niche area of the law, don’t try to be everything at once—consider your clients and the needs they tend to have. Your brand and its key messages should be aimed at clients who you want to become passionate about your firm and what it delivers.
One great example of a brand that has had a substantial impact on our culture in recent years is GoPro, the makers of action cameras that users can mount to helmets, bikes and just about anything else, for a first-person video experience. When people see GoPro’s logo or even hear the name, they immediately tend to think of action and adventure. That’s exactly what the GoPro is going for with its branding.
Your brand is also more than just your logo and associated visuals. It should have a story behind it, and clients should know that story. One of today’s best brand stories comes from TOMS, a company that was founded on the idea that for every pair of shoes sold, one would be given to a child living in poverty. Hundreds of millions of people are aware of this story and associate the brand with contributing to the greater good.
Your firm’s brand story might not be quite as compelling, but you still have a story to tell. Don’t be afraid to share with your clients how your business got started, who launched it, and why you offer the legal services you do. Now more than ever, people want to have some sort of connection with the brands with which they interact, and the more ardent fans will even share their experiences and feelings on social media.
Avoid Branding Pitfalls
While there are numerous businesses and organizations out there that lawyers can emulate as great examples of effective branding, there are also some well-known entities falling short in today’s ever-evolving marketplace.
One company that has very publicly struggled to maintain a positive brand image in recent years is retailer JC Penney, which went through an unsuccessful re-branding and suffered from a lack of cohesion within the company’s culture. Because there wasn’t large-scale internal buy-in to some of the radical changes the company aimed to make, including the discontinuation of markdowns and revamping store layouts, these efforts have largely failed—with some experts wondering if the company will even survive.
Another example of a struggling brand might be surprising: McDonald’s. The fast-food giant is grappling with how to appeal to younger consumers, especially members of the millennial generation who tend to be more conscious about what they eat. Recent ads focusing on the quality of the restaurant’s ingredients have largely flopped. And although McDonald’s still remains one of the world’s most recognized brands, that may not always be the case.
As you develop your law firm’s brand, think about what you want your existing and potential clients to feel, think and experience when they see your logo or think about your story. How can you differentiate yourself among your competitors, and how do your visuals, color scheme, and content support your brand? By maintaining overall consistency, adjusting your practices as time goes on, and always keeping your target audience top of mind, you’ll be well on your way to creating a high-impact law firm brand experience.
Read the next post in this series: "Branding: Let’s Talk Visuals."