Great brands produce an immediate, visceral feeling. If you see the Apple, Coke, McDonald’s, or Nike logo, you know what it is and have an instantaneous association with it. Apple makes high-end digital devices. Coke makes soda. McDonald’s is fast food. Nike is athletic performance. You can dispute those descriptions, but there’s a shared understanding of what the company makes and who its target market is. That’s branding.
Most law firm branding is vague. With 1.3 million attorneys in America, it’s difficult for a firm to stand out in a saturated market. Postali helps your firm get noticed by the right clients.
Law Firm Branding Guide
Postali is a digital marketing agency working exclusively with law firms. Unlike many digital marketers, Postali doesn’t start the conversation with a sales pitch about SEO or website design, although they offer both.
Postali begins by working with the firm to define its brand. That process culminates in a branding guide, whose principles and specifications govern how the firm presents itself internally and externally. Postali’s branding guide engagement distills the amorphous concept of branding into two concrete products: written assets and visual assets.
While logos, colors, and fonts—visual assets—are obvious public expressions of a brand, those visual assets draw inspiration from something. FedEx’s logo has an arrow between “E” and “x” because FedEx believes its mission is to ship packages that absolutely, positively have to be there overnight. The “smiley arrow” on Amazon boxes reinforces its mission as a store selling everything from A to Z. Visual assets flow from an understanding of the business.
That’s why Postali starts by fashioning five written assets. These serve as the firm’s compass for decision-making and the lodestar for creating visual assets. Written assets include:
1) Target Audience: Define the firm’s ideal clients by demographics and behaviors. Knowing this target group affects the “where,” “when,” and “how” of marketing. It also helps with client intake and identifying who would be a good client once they first “touch” the firm. Understand who the firm aims to attract.
Sam Ballinger, Postali’s design director, offered an example: “Our ideal clients are well-informed and typically do their own research before making the decision to hire us.” The demographic is “well-informed,” and the key behavior is “do their own research.”
So, what does that mean? If they do their own research, the firm’s materials should emphasize substance and details. They should downplay background explanations or “fluff” because well-informed people have already researched the basics.
2) Position Statement: A good position statement contains three elements: (a) it tells what the product is, (b) who the product is for, and (c) why one should use the product. Sam’s example: “We are pioneers in the field of nonprofit law…[for] cause conscious clients…[to] support, guide and execute their realization.”
The product is the firm’s services, but uniquely presented—the attorneys are not simply “attorneys” or “nonprofit attorneys,” but “pioneers in the field.” The product isn’t for every nonprofit, but for “cause-conscious clients.” The firm doesn’t merely meet a need, but “support(s), guide(s), and execute(s)” the client’s vision.
Sam encourages active, vibrant language that resonates with the firm internally and clients externally.
3) Mission Statement: This is an easily communicated and easily understood expression of the firm’s purpose. Sam’s example: “To use the law to stand up for our clients, be the voice for their children, and offer families a brighter future.”
A mission statement serves as the firm’s North Star. Every business decision should support, or at least not impinge on the mission. Does a prospective hire impress in the interview that bettering children and families motivates them? What sponsorship or community service opportunities introduce the firm to its target audience while improving families?
4) Core Values: These should not enumerate all the firm’s favorable characteristics. Instead, core values should examine what is foundational and fundamental. Core values should feel cohesive with the other written assets. What values are shared by the team and, ideally, with clients? Core values could be simple virtues like honesty and teamwork. The firm’s personality or mission may warrant pithy, action-oriented values like “be heroic.”
5) Value Proposition: A firm’s value proposition is the above-the-fold headline or news story lede. Why should the buyer pick this firm? Brevity is key. Spark enough interest in the prospect for them to take the next step.
Sam’s example is a personal injury firm advertising “a painless way to get legal help.” The proposition’s flexibility allows the sufferer to imagine many forms of painlessness, such as a painless intake process or a painless customer experience. A powerful proposition says a lot in a few words.
Postali’s branding guide comprises three visual assets: a logo, color palette, and font families.
While the logo is inherently individualistic, Sam offers guidance on colors and fonts. A firm’s color palette consists of four to six colors. Each serves a primary or secondary role (e.g., title versus headings or body text). Font choices may be traditional or modern, depending on the firm’s personality and target market. Sometimes, Postali mixes traditional and modern fonts to reflect a long-established firm offering novel solutions.
Postali divides the creative process into four stages. First, clients complete a questionnaire to help Postali understand the firm’s personality and the “why now” of wanting to brand. Second, Postali’s creative team and the firm hold a discovery call, with the questionnaire guiding the discussion. Third, Postali refines agreed themes. Fourth, Postali produces draft is written and visual assets, which undergo client consultations and revisions before culminating in a finished branding guide.
The branding guide is the firm’s to keep. Postali provides the whole panoply of digital marketing services, but there’s no obligation to contract for those services as part of producing a branding guide. Once created, a firm can use its branding guide internally to create its own website, messaging, and marketing content.
Lawyerist Interview with Postali
Last updated April 7th, 2023