There are over 1.2 million attorneys in the United States. That means your clients have options when selecting a lawyer for their legal needs. Why should they choose you?
The answer to that question lies in your law firm branding, an important part of your overall marketing strategy. What makes you different, your unique selling points and attributes as an attorney all culminate to create your brand. To attract the clients that need you the most, you must harness the power of branding for your firm. Spoiler alert: it’s more than a simple logo.
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What Is Law Firm Branding?
Your overarching brand is the overlap of your firm’s reputation in the market with the promise you’re trying to make to your clients. In other words, your brand is your law firm’s personality. This includes many elements such as your unique selling proposition and your company values.
The Difference Between a Logo and a Brand
You might be wondering where the logo and other visual elements of your brand fit. Logos, web design, color choices, and more are your brand’s identity—the visual elements that distinguish your business in your clients’ minds. This helps your law firm branding stand out above the pack.
Illustrating the Difference Between Brand and Brand Identity
Consider one of the world’s most renowned brands: Coca-Cola. The company’s overarching brand message is to refresh the world while using sustainable ingredients and building a better future for the people they touch. In fact, they state, “we do business the right way, not just the easy way.”
They communicate this brand to the world via their brand identity, which includes their logo, website messaging, marketing materials, color schemes, and more. When you reach for a bottle of Coca-Cola, you recognize it from the red label and tell-tale script font. Plus, knowing what they stand for makes the reach that much simpler, right?
That’s the power of branding. It’s so successful that the Coca-Cola brand alone is worth $80.83 billion.
The Distinction Between Your Brand and Your Reputation
Earlier, we talked about how your brand is the overlap of your firm’s reputation in the market and the promise you’re trying to make to your clients. It’s important to understand that your brand and your reputation aren’t the same things, although they’re closely linked.
To your clients, your brand communicates what they’ll receive when they work with you, known as your brand promise. Your reputation communicates the proof of what you can do. See the difference?
For example, your reputation of being a good and successful attorney may increase referral traffic to your website, but it’s your brand that solidifies to your client that you’re the right choice.
The Importance of a Strong Brand
Your law firm isn’t a worldwide beverage company that’s been around since 1886. A strong brand is just as important for you as it is for Coca-Cola, however.
Possessing a strong brand:
- Builds trust. A strong brand is authentic, transparent, and client-focused, three things that continuously build trust. If a client can trust you, they’ll be loyal to you.
- Enhances loyalty. Around 89% of consumers stay loyal to brands that share their values. The only way to communicate those values clearly is via strong lawyer branding.
- Sets you apart from your competition. A strong brand is noticeable and begs for attention. As a result, you’ll stand out from the million-plus other attorneys out there.
- Helps you stay focused. With a clear brand strategy, you’ll stay focused on your firm’s mission and values. You won’t waste time or money on efforts that don’t align with your firm’s purpose.
- Encourages connection. Consumers make purchasing decisions based on emotion. A strong brand helps you connect with your clients on an emotional level, which inspires them to reach out.
Or consider our Labster, Erik Pelton, whose motto is “Making trademarks bloom since 1999.” And the bloom? He’s known as the sunflower guy! His site is full of sunflowers and he’ll even send sunflowers to clients at key points of their journey. By picking one, simple trademark and using it well, you can stand apart from your competition.
How to Identify and Create Your Law Firm Brand
We know this is a lot to take in, but we have good news: your firm already has a brand. The goal is to figure out what that brand is and make it coherent and cohesive.
Your law firm’s brand should be:
- Consistent. Everything from your logo to the way you answer the phone should communicate a consistent brand. If your website is formal, answer the phone in a formal manner. If you’re a hip firm targeting Gen-Z clients, be more casual in your marketing. Everything should work together cohesively.
- Authentic. If you’re not a playful, light-hearted person but you try to force playfulness into your brand, it’s not going to work. Around 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when selecting brands to like and support. Be who you are. If you force anything else, people will see right through you and they won’t trust you.
- Authoritative. Clients want the best attorney for them and their needs. Your brand should communicate your authority within your legal niche. As a result, you’ll build trust with your target clients. How do you build authority? Learn all you can about your clients’ needs, solve those problems, and share your expertise with others.
5 Simple Steps for Identifying Your Unique Brand
Labster Justie Nicol knows her brand. She runs one of the only all-female criminal defense firms in Colorado – and she’s loud and proud about it. Her branding colors are pink and black for a mixture of feminine and badass. It’s incredibly effective.
Identifying your brand isn’t as difficult as it seems. All you need is dedicated time for some thought work. If you have a team, involve them in the process.
Let’s dive into five simple steps you can take to start identifying your law firm’s brand.
1. Set Your Why
As an attorney, why do you do what you do? This goes so much deeper than practicing law. Define why it is you chose this practice, this niche, and these clients. Also known as your firm’s mission, your why will be the ultimate roadmap for your brand and your business. If something doesn’t fit your why, it doesn’t belong in your firm.
For example, an immigration attorney might say their mission is to help clients achieve their dream of becoming U.S. citizens. Or, a divorce attorney might say their mission is to help clients find the hope and support individuals need to create a new life.
Whatever you choose, make sure it rings true for your firm.
2. Define Your Ideal Client
Labster Amber James runs a family law firm called New Beginnings. Her ideal clients want mindful, kind resolutions to their issues. And everything from the name of her firm, to the text on her site, to what her staff say to potential clients reflects this feeling of peace. So, she gets clients who are willing to put in the work, calmly.
So ask yourself — who do you want to serve? Although it’s easy to answer this with “everyone,” this is far from the truth. In reality, you serve a small subset of clients who will benefit most from your services. Who are they? That’s up to you to decide.
Start by creating a client persona—a description of the ideal client you wish to serve. List your ideal client’s demographics, motivations, goals, challenges, and pain points. Remember, your ideal client’s goals, challenges, and pain points should align with what you have to offer. Your firm should fill the gaps.
Armed with this persona, you’ll be able to build your brand with your ideal clients in mind. Everything from your website content to the way you communicate will fit their expectations and feel personal to them.
3. Discover Your Law Firm’s Values
Your values define your firm, from the way you design your firm’s culture to how you build your brand. They are the foundation your firm is built upon. To set your values, consider the goals your firm wants to achieve. Next, select values, that if followed, will help you achieve those goals.
For example, we’ve built Lawyerist around these seven core values:
- Build the tribe.
- Improve the ecosystem.
- Deliver value first and seek profit second.
- Learn and teach.
- Think inclusively.
- Do great work that supports a great life.
- Find the lever.
Once you set your values, communicate them through your law firm’s branding. As you make decisions on how your logo should look or how your message should come across on your website, remember these values. If something doesn’t align, go back to the drawing board.
4. Understand Your Unique Value Proposition
Your unique value proposition (UVP) is a statement that communicates the services you offer, how they solve your clients’ needs, and what makes you different from the competition. This UVP will be one of your most critical brand assets, as it will appear on your marketing materials and be the driving force behind how you interact with your clients.
To define your UVP, answer these questions:
- What services do you provide?
- Who do you serve?
- What needs or concerns do those services solve?
- What makes your firm different from other firms?
For example, a personal injury attorney’s UVP might look something like this: “Our firm provides legal counsel and support to clients struggling with injury due to the actions of someone else through collaboration, experience, and unwavering dedication.”
It’s important to note that your UVP may be a couple of sentences or a few words. Length is not important here. What matters is that you can clearly communicate who you are in a way that inspires potential clients to reach out.
5. Identify Your Brand Voice
Your brand voice is your unique personality communicated through the language you use in your branding. Its purpose is to cut straight through the noise of the legal industry to tap your ideal client on the shoulder, grabbing their attention.
How does your ideal client wish to be spoken to? For example, if you’re an IP attorney trying to attract tech start-ups, you might choose a voice that showcases authority and innovation. If you’re a family law attorney focused on divorce and child custody, a voice that’s warm and welcoming yet professional might be best.
Select two or three adjectives that describe your brand voice. As you move forward, make sure your marketing materials and client communications are consistent with your brand voice.
Creating Your Brand Identity
Now that you have a law firm branding backbone, it’s time to dive into the creation of your brand identity. Components within your brand identity will include:
- Firm name
- Color scheme
- Typography and fonts
- Marketing materials
- Stationery such as letterheads and business cards
- Copy such as website and blog content
Document and follow these elements consistently across the work of your firm. Your unique brand identity might require all of these elements or just a few. We recommend starting with your law firm’s logo, as it is one of the most commonly used brand assets.
Once you have a logo, move on to select your color scheme and typography. Remember, color invokes emotion, so make sure the colors you choose reflect your brand’s voice. From there, move forward to create a website, marketing materials, stationery, and more.
Branding & Visuals: More Than a Logo
Although your logo is the center of your branding efforts, it’s only the beginning.
While you may have developed a primary logo for your business, it’s important to have more than one version of it to use in different scenarios—and to keep your brand from becoming boring. The logo you use on your website might also not be appropriate when it comes to your printed materials and social media profiles, and vice versa.
But you might need to use a secondary logo if space on a web page or printed document is limited. Some firms, for example, have a version of their logo that contains only an image, rather than including the name of the firm itself. This allows you to maintain your brand image while meeting the different demands of various platforms.
How Your Color Scheme Reflects Your Brand
Although many studies have attempted to find the color schemes to which consumers will best respond, colors are extremely connected to each person’s feelings and experiences, and so these studies have been largely inconclusive. More broadly, however, it appears that the impact of colors on consumers depends on the types of products and services the brand in question offers. Essentially, the colors you use should fit your offerings.
In one study, researchers found that purchasing decisions might be profoundly impacted by color simply because they have an enormous effect on how people perceive a brand. Most law firms, for example, opt for bold and traditional over bright and flashy, as they typically aim to establish a sense of professionalism and authority in their branding.
It’s easy to see why color is so important to a brand’s effectiveness. A University of Loyola study found that color increases individuals’ recognition of a brand by about 80 percent, while 92 percent of consumers surveyed said that they place top priority on visual factors when making purchase decisions.
Furthermore, there’s evidence to suggest that color increases one’s ability to remember something, as it allows the brain to process and store images more efficiently than it does with grayscale images.
When it comes to choosing the color scheme for your brand, it’s worth looking at the different feelings with which certain colors are generally associated. For example:
- Green: This color displays a sense of health, wellness, and wholesomeness. Examples include Whole Foods, Android, and Starbucks. Law firms focusing on family law might want to use green in their branding.
- Red: Energetic and bold, this color is at the center of brands like Target, Coca-Cola, and YouTube. Firms focused on personal injury law might use red if they want to convey they will fight aggressively for their clients.
- Black: Brands that use black as a core color typically want to display class, dignity, and sophistication. Examples are Bentley, Adidas and the New York Times. Many business and corporate law firms make heavy use of black as well.
- Blue: This color is used to display a sense of honesty and reliability. LinkedIn and Visa use blue at the core of their brands, for example. Blue might work well for a law firm focused on estate planning.
Using Visuals in Your Content
There are a number of ways to use your logo and visuals for your brand, including on printed materials like your letterhead, business cards, brochures, and billboards. You should use the same logo (or a standardized variety of it) on all of this marketing collateral, as it will help you reaffirm your brand in the eyes of your current and potential clients–along with your fellow attorneys and other partners.
Visuals also play a significant role on social media, going far beyond which logo you use. When you post to your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn profiles, be sure to include photos of you and your staff, and you may use stock images that are relevant to your posts. Social media posts that include visuals have much higher click-through rates, as images grab the attention of users and encourage them to read more.
The same goes for your blog posts and email marketing efforts. Each piece of content you create and post should have an image associated with it, whether it’s a headshot of the author or a photo of something relevant to the topic of the content. And if you’re engaged in an email marketing campaign, be sure to feature one or two images within each message, as it will increase the likelihood that the recipient will actually read it.
Visuals are a cornerstone of your firm’s overall branding efforts, and there are many different ways you can use your logo, images and messaging to convey the value your practice and its attorneys offer to clients. Be sure to keep this in mind as you continue to develop your unique brand and reach out to legal consumers in an increasingly dynamic digital world.
Consider Working With a Law Firm Branding Professional
It’s impossible to discuss every brand asset and its design on this page. Plus, we’re not designers. But we do know the benefits of working with a law firm branding professional, should you need some assistance with designing your brand.
Sure, you can follow the steps included in this guide to get started on your own. After all, you know your firm best. When it comes time for creating your brand assets, consider reaching out for help. A lawyer branding professional will evaluate your law firm and conduct market research to find what’s working for your ideal client. From there, they’ll help you design visual assets such as your logo and website.
Does all of this feel overwhelming? Are you ready to hand over the entire process? A branding professional can also help you build your brand from the ground up. You’re not alone in this; help is available for you!
How to Promote Your Law Firm’s Brand
Brand awareness—the ability for your clients to recognize your brand—is critical for business success. The only way to increase awareness is to promote your brand.
The bottom line: promote your brand everywhere and make sure your brand is used consistently throughout your marketing.
A few quick tips:
Go Where Your Clients Go
You must incorporate your brand into everything your ideal clients can see online and offline. Remember the ideal client persona? Use it to determine where your ideal clients like to hang out. What social media channels do they use? How often are they on their email? What websites do they visit often for inspiration, information or enjoyment? Wherever they are, make sure your brand is there, too.
Create an Online Presence
Did you know that 88% of consumers who search for a business on their mobile device call or go to that business within 24 hours? If you’re not online and on mobile, you’re missing critical leads.
Publish Valuable Content
Consumers love great content that delivers value to their lives (Google does, too). As you publish online content such as blog posts on your website and beyond, you’re promoting your brand on a larger scale. Publishing content will generate traffic to your website while also increasing your brand’s authority in your niche.
Consider Paid Advertising
Social platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn offer paid advertising for your brand at a relatively low cost. Even a small paid advertising campaign can help promote your new brand to potential clients. With every impression, you’re growing your reach.
Start Small When Overhauling Your Law Firm’s Brand
Thinking about overhauling your brand (or just getting started with it) can seem overwhelming. But remember, this process won’t happen overnight. Building a strong brand will take some time. Start with some bite-sized tasks such as determining your ideal client or brainstorming what makes your firm unique. These quick wins will inspire you to move forward. You can do this.
Starting a New Solo or Small Firm?
Good news if you’re looking to get your marketing in shape: We offer a 10-week online course and group coaching program that features Lawyerist’s philosophies and resources. Interested? Set up a time to learn more.