Law Firm Branding: The Secret to Success

Law Firm Branding: The Secret to Success

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Law is a competitive field. According to data from the American Bar Association (ABA), there are approximately 1.3 million lawyers in the United States. Attorneys and law firms need to be able to attract qualified clients to thrive. In 2022, building a clear, cohesive, and comprehensive brand is one of the keys to success in the legal field. In this article, you will find an overview of the secrets to success when it comes to law firm branding. 

Understanding the Basics of Law Firm Branding

When most people think of brands, they conjure up images of common consumer focus products and services—such as Target, Nike, Apple, and Google. Though, the reality is that every business has a brand identity. A law firm is no exception. As defined by Investopedia, a brand is an “intangible marketing or business concept that helps people identify a company, product, or individual.” The most successful lawyers and law firms have well-considered, cohesive brands. In the legal field, the same old messaging strategies are not working as well as they did before. Law firms need to create a compelling message in the mind of their target audience. A brand includes: 

  • Message: The core message that a law firm is trying to get across. 
  • Perception: The perception that a firm has in the eyes of its current and potential clients. 
  • Promise: The promises and expectations that a law firm puts in the minds of its clients. 

In some ways, a law firm’s brand identity is about the core “personality” of the business. As law is a competitive field, potential clients have a large number of lawyers and law firms from which to choose. A firm that has not built a core brand may not stand out from the competition. Branding is important because it highlights a law firm’s principles, core selling points, and the unique value proposition that it offers to potential clients. A lawyer or law firm with a strong and well-developed brand identity is far more likely to resonate with its target audience. 

Secrets of Success: Know the Elements of a Strong and Compelling Law Firm Brand

What makes up a successful branding strategy for a law firm? To start, it is about understanding that branding a law firm is a long-lasting process. It is a marathon and not a sprint. Creating a strong brand takes time, effort, and dedicated focus. How do you create the right brand identity for your law firm? You need to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy that is narrowly tailored to achieve your goals. Here are the secrets of success for law firm branding:  

  • Knowing the Core Value Proposition of Your Law Firm: What makes your law firm different from the competition? This is the single most important question that you need to answer when developing a branding strategy for your law firm. The core value proposition offered by your firm is generally the thing that will be central to your brand identity. It could be personalized attention, vast experience, specialty work in certain practice areas, or something else that will catch the attention of a potential client. 
  • Communicating Your Story in a Way that Connects: Your law firm undoubtedly has a story to tell about its history and why it can deliver top-quality legal representation. As part of your branding, you need to develop a strategy for communicating that story to potential clients in a way that connects with them at a deep level. Communication is one of the secrets of success for law firm branding. 
  • Understanding the Message that Potential Clients Get: In some ways, businesses do not actually get to decide the identity of their brand—at least not directly. Ultimately, your brand is not the way you say it is, but what your target audience says it is. Put another way, law firm branding is about perception. You need to carefully consider the perception that you are creating in the minds of current and potential clients. It is useful to try to put yourself in their position so that you can best understand what they see and what they feel when viewing your law firm’s brand. 
  • Emphasizing Clarity and Consistency: Clarity and consistency are perhaps the most underrated secrets of law firm branding. Too many law firms undermine their own messaging by trying to do too much. Their brand’s value proposition may not be clear to potential clients. There is strong evidence that consumers—including the individuals and businesses that hire lawyers—desire clarity. A clear message that is consistently delivered can help to keep your brand identity in the minds of your target audience. 
  • Developing a Plan to Promote Your Brand: Imagine that you and your partners have put in a tremendous amount of effort to develop a clear, consistent, and compelling branding strategy for your law firm. Is the strategy going to be successful in attracting more qualified clients? It will not be successful if no one actually knows that your law firm exists. When you have your brand in place, you also need to develop and implement a plan for promoting your law firm. This is the part of the process where marketing comes into play. Marketing is key to getting your brand’s message before qualified leads. 

Attorneys May Have Personal Brands Too

It is important to emphasize that individual lawyers may benefit from having personal brands as well. In many cases, a lawyer’s personal brand will overlap with the brand of the law firm where they work. This is especially true for solo practitioners and partners at small and mid-sized law firms. When developing a branding strategy for a law firm, it is important to consider the lawyers that actually work at the firm. 

You do not want to try to build a law firm branding strategy that is inconsistent with the already established personal brands of the individual attorneys. As an example, imagine that your law firm is developing a family mediation practice. Your firm also has a personal injury practice that is led by an attorney who has developed a reputation for being “aggressive” and “tenacious.”  Those terms may not be consistent with the new family mediation practice. You need to consider how to bring the brand of the firm together into a coherent package. There are many different strategies available to help ensure that the branding of lawyers and law firms are complementary. 

Common Law Firm Branding Mistakes to Avoid 

In developing a brand, many lawyers and law firms make some of the same errors. By avoiding some of the most common mistakes, a firm can develop a more effective brand. Here are four common law firm branding mistakes to avoid: 

  1. Law Firm Branding Mistake #1: Failure to Develop a Coherent Plan/Message

One of the central tenets of effective branding is that strategy must be clear, coherent, and consistent. Remember, a law firm’s brand is not just about the message that its lawyers are trying to send, it is about the actual perception in the minds of previous, current, and future clients. Building a successful branding strategy always starts with planning. Without well-defined goals—including reaching a solid understanding of who comprises your target audience—you will be a step behind. 

  1. Law Firm Branding Mistake #2: Lack of a Comprehensive Digital Strategy

In 2022, building a successful law firm brand must include a comprehensive digital strategy. Thomson Reuters recently cited data showing that a substantial number of consumers and businesses find their lawyers online. Even when potential clients learn of a law firm “offline,” they often do some background research on the internet before setting up a consultation. All law firms should have a well-developed digital strategy as part of their branding strategy. Among other things, this includes: 

  • Ensuring that their website is fully up-to-date; 
  • Developing web content that is consistent with the brand identity; 
  • Putting the best search engine optimization (SEO) practices in place; and
  • Creating social media profiles that fit well with the law firm’s core message. 

  1. Law Firm Branding Mistake #3 Not Collecting and/or Evaluating Data

A law firm’s branding strategy is something that should always be reviewed and refined. The most effective branding and marketing strategies are data-driven. Law firms that have data—both quantitative and qualitative—about their branding strategy will be in the best position to assess its effectiveness. You can use relevant data to figure out what works and what needs to be adjusted. 

  1. Law Firm Branding Mistake #4 Trying to Build a Brand Strategy Without Professional Help 

Branding and marketing a law firm is complicated. You do not have to develop the entire branding strategy alone. Professional guidance and support from a legal branding and marketing expert can make a tremendous difference. A top law firm marketing agency can help you and your partners develop a plan for the present and future of your law firm. With a comprehensive, cohesive, and compelling branding strategy, your law firm will be in the best position to connect with more qualified potential clients.

Don’t make mistake #4!  If you don’t want to go to the time and trouble figuring out the branding strategy for your law firm, ONE400 can help.  ONE400 is an award-winning legal marketing company that has created hundreds of law firm branding strategies.  More about ONE400 can be found at www.one400.com.

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About the author

Allen Rodriguez Allen Rodriguez is a legal product development strategist who has been serving the legal industry for over 21 years. Over the course of his career, Allen has built a reputation for creating innovative legal services products as well as developing highly effective law firm business and marketing strategies. Allen is a valued speaker on the topics of law marketing, legal services product development, and future of law issues.

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