The Expert Guide to Branding Your Law Firm
10 Minute Read
A lot of people claim to be experts in how to brand a law firm. They talk a big game about branding, but in reality they just create boilerplate logos and the generic lawyer videos you’ve seen a thousand times.
You shouldn’t trust your law firm branding to just anyone. You need an agency that is all-in on brand positioning and messaging, a company that knows how to brand a law firm because they’ve done it countless times and—unlike the pretenders—treat it as a cohesive part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
That’s Twelve Three Media. We help law firms across the globe develop world-class brand identities and infuse every aspect of their marketing with a unique personality geared toward their ideal clients. And we do it by focusing on the big picture, not cookie-cutter deliverables.
If you want to build a unique brand for your law firm, the experts at Twelve Three Media have you covered. Contact us to get the ball rolling. Or, if you need convincing, see what the pros have to say about how to brand a law firm below.
The Basics of Law Firm Branding
Let’s knock out the essentials quickly so we can cut to the heart of the matter. The basics of branding a law firm are:
- Knowing yourself.
You need to know who you are as a firm, including the experience and skills of your staff, the types of cases you handle, your reputation in the local and legal community, and what makes you different from the competition. You also need to know your “why”—the driving force behind why the firm exists.
- Knowing your client.
You need to know what kind of clients your firm wants to serve. This goes beyond just “injured people” and takes into account demographic information, emotional triggers, and how they search for legal services.
- Knowing your message.
One of the most important aspects of developing a brand identity is defining and refining your message. You want—no, you need—to stand out from the crowd, and you must connect with potential clients in a way that earns their trust, aligns with their beliefs, and drives them to select your firm.
Some marketing agencies try to glean this information from a single 30–60 minute interview. Then they slap a logo together, shoot a generic video, and expect you and your clients to be impressed. They call that branding, but we call it a waste of time and money.
The problem with treating the building blocks above like a finished brand is that it leaves you rudderless when it comes to marketing your law firm cohesively. Far too many agencies fail to work with their clients to integrate a spanking new brand into their marketing and advertising as a whole.
So much time goes into law firm branding, but precious little goes into the actual execution of how to brand a law firm. Fortunately, the gurus at Twelve Three Media are here to break down exactly what should go into the brand marketing strategy for your law firm.
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The Blueprint’s in Your Head; Now It’s Time to Get to Work
We find that most lawyers and law firm marketing directors have a vision of who they are and what makes them different. The difficulty comes in translating those broad notions into a successful marketing strategy.
Having worked with law firms of all sizes in multiple parts of the world, we have found a recipe for success when it comes to branding a law firm. Get your umbrellas ready, because our experts are about to rain down some knowledge!
Connecting with Clients
Think you can just hang out a shingle and start getting cases? Guess again. You need to find a way to stand out amid the intense noise of the legal marketing landscape. Follow these step-by-step instructions to start creating a distinctive brand that will resonate with your target clients:
1. Find Your WHY
Think of the WHY like a vision statement. It should encapsulate the core beliefs at the heart of your firm, the motivation that drives you and your team, and the shared values underlying the work you do.
For example, a personal injury law firm might summarize their WHY as follows:
“We aspire to a world where every individual experiences safety, support, and value in their community.”
The WHY statement serves as a foundation for your law firm’s brand marketing. It also allows you to align your internal operations around the core values you identify.
2. Define the HOW
Once you’ve defined your WHY, you need to get into HOW you do things. This is your chance to create a unique selling proposition for your law firm.
Lots of attorneys probably handle the same cases you do. What makes your firm different? Do you focus on the quality of the cases rather than the quantity of the leads? Summarize the HOW that sets you apart, like so:
“Our law firm treats each client like a unique person, not a name in a file. We bring the full weight of our experience and success as litigators to provide comprehensive assistance to injured people and pursue the compensation they deserve.”
3. Land on the WHAT
The benefits of hiring your law firm make up the WHAT in your brand. In essence, they are a summary of the client experience. A personal injury firm might write their brand’s WHAT like this:
“We meet with clients at a time and place convenient to them—in our office, at their home, or in the hospital. Our team investigates the case and starts gathering evidence immediately. We identify our clients’ legal options and aggressively represent them in settlement negotiations and, if necessary, at trial. Clients can count on us to keep them informed and act in their best interest at all times.”
WHY, HOW, and WHAT are the three rings of the “Golden Circle” developed by author and business leadership expert Simon Sinek. The “Golden Circle” provides a framework for how great leaders inspire action.
At Twelve Three Media, we’ve adapted this framework to our brand positioning services to help clients understand the importance and, ultimately, success of purpose-driven marketing.
Know Your ‘Enemy’
No self-respecting law firm settles for second best. Whether you have a friendly rivalry or a bitter feud with other attorneys in the market, you want your law firm to be number 1 in terms of clients, cases, and results.
So how do you crush your competition like ants at a picnic packed just for you? Once you know yourself, you need to have an in-depth understanding of the competition.
4. Identify the Competition
It’s easy for lawyers to fixate on the big spenders, or the firms they have personal beef with. While winning out over your rivals is important, you don’t want to lose out on the bigger picture. The firms that could be taking business away from you might not even be on your radar.
At Twelve Three Media, we take our clients’ insights on competitors seriously. But we also do our due diligence in determining who’s ranking first in search, who’s dominating paid ads, and who has an inescapable advertising footprint out of home. These are the adversaries you’ll have to beat if you want to “be the man.”
This is important to brand positioning. In order to position your brand, you have to understand what your competition is doing and saying, how they are talking about their firm and its points of difference, so you can ensure that you are differentiating yourself.
5. Define What Sets You Apart
As an attorney, you know that all lawyers aren’t the same. The trick is telling potential clients that so they go with your law firm over the competition.
A slick logo and an over-produced video aren’t going to cut it. Every aspect of your marketing—from your website to your social media channels to all of your marketing videos—needs to be fueled by your unique brand identity.
We can’t count the number of times a personal injury lawyer has told us that the essence of their brand is “We care.” That’s great, but everyone says it. HOW, exactly, do you care? Do you pay closer attention to your clients’ needs than other firms? Are you active in the community? Do you work with the state legislature to push for a safer, more just world? All of these components should be front and center in your law firm branding.
6. Explain the Benefits
Both rational and emotional reasons drive consumer decisions. When it comes to how to brand a law firm, your firm’s branding must present both emotional and rational benefits. The rational benefit may be getting top-quality legal representation, but the emotional one would be the confidence or security a client feels knowing they have a dedicated advocate in their corner when they need it most.
The benefits of choosing your law firm can be gleaned not only from how you perceive yourself, but how clients view you as well. Reputation management isn’t just about fostering a positive image for potential clients, though that is very important. It is also about learning from satisfied (as well as unsatisfied) clients and using what they say to make your firm better.
Audit Your Marketing Assets
Unless you’re just starting your law firm, you’ve likely worked with an agency or two. You have a website and some other collateral at your disposal. Will the brand assets you have help you reach your marketing goals?
Let’s take a look…
7. Evaluate Creative Assets
Creative assets essential for marketing and advertising include:
- Logos and icons
- Copywriting (taglines, marketing emails, etc.)
- Office decor
- Mailers, pamphlets, brochures, and other collateral
- Print, radio, and television ads
- Billboard and other out-of-home ads
When branding a law firm, each of these assets should convey the firm’s identity quickly and effectively. If the design, copywriting, and collateral don’t do that, a refresh is in order.
8. Assess Digital Presence
To know where you’re headed, you have to know where you’ve been. It’s crucial to audit your digital marketing and advertising efforts to see how they fit with your brand. This may include:
- Your website design and user experience
- Website content, including practice area pages, blog posts, etc.
- Social media posts
- Digital advertising campaigns
- Attorney bios and firm profiles on third-party websites
- Earned media coverage
If your assets are outdated, generic, or not representative of your firm, it’s time to reboot your branding.
9. Define Your Brand Character
Both the key messaging and visual design for your law firm brand are driven by character. It may be helpful to think about your brand persona in terms of a well-known fictional character (e.g., Perry Mason) or real-life person (e.g., Clarence Darrow) who represents the values and personality of your firm.
If you can’t imagine this “avatar” saying something from your previous marketing efforts, that means it’s time for a change.
So you’ve audited your law firm branding and found it wanting. Now what? Lesser agencies would tell you that you need a new logo, a new website, and a snazzy “how we win” video packed with slow-motion shots next to a courthouse ASAP. At Twelve Three Media, we like to set our clients up for success—REAL success.
That’s why we focus so much on laying the groundwork for how to brand a law firm, not just the deliverables. We find that consistency is essential for making a law firm brand the best it can be.
10. Develop Key Messaging
Having fleshed out your brand positioning and what makes you different, it’s time to hone in on the key messaging for prospective clients. This should be written in the voice of the character you selected in step 9 (see above).
Your key message should encapsulate all of the values and unique selling points of your brand. It should connect with potential clients on an emotional and rational level, and persuade them to choose your firm for their legal needs.
11. Design a Brand Style Guide
The brand style guide is the bible for the look and feel of your marketing and ads. It should create standards for the following assets:
- Logos with a few different color variations
- Icons (can be used for your website favicon, as a watermark on stationery, etc.)
- Brand colors
Having a brand style guide helps keep internal stakeholders and outside agencies on the same page. It guarantees that the colors, typeface, and iconography you use in your marketing stay consistent and convey your brand.
12. Create a Brand Roadmap
The final step is rather open-ended. It consists of taking all the work you’ve done on the branding for your law firm and implementing it across your marketing and advertising channels. Before going off half-cocked, we recommend putting a detailed plan in place for leveraging your brand positioning and key messaging.
Meetings with key individuals inside your organization (e.g., partners, marketing director and staff, etc.) are critical. You should also work closely with your marketing agency to ensure the creative assets, copy, and other elements are integrated cohesively and consistently.
Finally, you should set goals for the new strategy. Your ultimate goal is to generate more revenue, but you should also pay attention to your search rankings, the performance of your ads, and other key metrics.
Not Sure How to Brand Your Law Firm?
Does all this law firm branding sound like a lot of work? Trust us, it is. You can try to do it yourself, or you can entrust your brand positioning and key messaging to a group of experts committed to taking your firm to new heights.
Our Brand Positioning Workshop is a unique half-day workshop that can help you:
- Align your marketing efforts
- Increase brand recognition
- Create trust and brand loyalists
- Improve advertising ROI
- Align your firm internally
In just 4 hours, our Brand Marketing Experts will walk you through a series of unique exercises to define the key aspects of your brand. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that provides immense value for each of our clients who takes part.
From there, our consummate pros will:
- Perform a competitive market analysis
- Develop your persona, brand positioning, and key messaging
- Deliver your brand pyramid, including:
- Brand Essence
- Brand Positioning Statement
- Brand Character & Personification
- Competitive Insight
- Reasons to Believe