When you operate a professional services business like a law firm, your success is directly tied to your brand.
Some attorneys might think a brand is limited to a professional-looking logo or a memorable slogan, but the truth is much deeper. Your brand is the sum of all the experiences people—be they clients, prospective clients, or members of your community—have with your firm. Put another way, your brand is your reputation. Your brand represents what your legal practice does and how you do the work in the eyes of the community.
Your goal may be to be known as the law firm with a staff that is always polite, prompt, and willing to go the extra mile without nickel and diming clients. The most trusted legal practices—and, in turn, the ones that get the most cases—are those with the strongest brands.
Brands take time to build, dedication to maintain, and they can be destroyed overnight. Everything you do as an attorney either contributes to or takes away from your brand.
Every phone call you answer, every case you take, every image you post on Instagram—it all can work to make your brand stronger or weaker.
What Can a Great Brand Do for You & Your Practice?
What makes law firm branding so important? Great branding streamlines client acquisition and increases the value of any legal practice. If you find yourself questioning this, ask yourself why people are willing to pay twice as much money (or more) to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks when they can get a cup that’s widely considered to be as good (if not better) at McDonald’s for $1?
People are willing to pay that kind of markup because of the brand that Starbucks has cultivated. The Starbucks brand’s panache is worth paying 100+% more, even though the quality of the actual product doesn’t necessarily merit it.
Does a Subpar Brand Put My Firm at Risk?
You bet it does. The dangers of developing a lousy brand are as real for attorneys as they are for any other company. A shoddy brand will make it more difficult for your firm to connect with the community, develop deep, meaningful relationships with prospective clients, retain existing clients, and win new business.
In this day and age, it doesn’t matter how adept you or your firm is—if you don’t possess a great brand, the phone will ring less and less until, one day, it won’t ring at all.
How Do I Know If I Have a Strong Brand?
Not sure how strong your brand is in your community? Start by asking yourself:
Does my firm...
- Show up at or near the top of Google Search?
- Project itself in the community in a consistent way?
- Own a strong social media presence on key platforms such as Facebook?
- Have lots of 5-star reviews on key websites such as Yelp and Google?
- Maintain a polished, professional website that instills confidence in prospective clients?
If the answer to those five questions is a resounding YES, then the chances are good that your firm maintains a strong brand. If, however, the answer to even one of those questions is NO, there is an opportunity for growth.
How Can I Build a Stronger Brand?
There are several steps you can take to build a stronger brand for your legal practice right now.
Some are easy, some are more difficult, but all effectively help you build the type of brand and reputation that leads to considerable and sustainable law firm growth.
Figure Out Your Brand’s Purpose
Every great brand has a purpose, and that purpose isn’t simply to fix problems and make money. Your purpose is greater than that. It’s why you get out of bed in the morning and go through the trouble of being an attorney.
As you try to define the purpose of your brand, ask yourself some critical questions:
- If I was hiring an attorney, what would I expect in the way of client service?
- Why is my firm still in business when some of my competitors have failed?
- What makes my practice different in the eyes of clients?
- Who is the best client I’ve ever worked with?
- What motivates you to get up and go to court in the morning?
- Where do I want my firm to be in 5 years?
Deep, honest reflection on these questions will help you sort out what drives your business. Use your answers to start defining the underlying purpose of your brand.
Then, start thinking about the promises you make every potential client that calls your firm or visits your website. These can be verbal promises, or they can be promises that prospects infer through online interactions with your practice. Your brand promise provides a foundation of what clients can expect if they decide to work with your firm.
Do you promise to devote more time and to make clients feel more valued than your competitors? Do you promise to always be clear and honest about the expectations your clients should have? Do you promise to involve clients every step of the way?
Whatever your brand promise(s) may be, make sure you communicate them at every touchpoint—then, most importantly, make sure you follow through on them.
Examine Your Competition & Find a Differentiator
Knowing who your competitors are and how they present their brands is an important step for you to take. If you look like, sound like, and act like the competition, your brand will never stand out in the crowd. And if your brand blends into the background, what incentive is there for someone to call your firm over another? Scrutinize your local competition, analyze their respective brands, and drill down to find something you offer that no one else does.
From this, you find where you can best position yourself against the alternatives out there.
Be a Teacher, Not a Seller
The strongest legal brands don’t “sell” their services. Instead, they educate people in their community.
The best way to do that is with content. What is content? It’s the material you see other law firms and legal “personalities” publishing on the Internet in the form of blogs, videos, tweets, etc.
Great content educates prospective clients, provides them with value, and finds a way to be memorable.
If content is something your legal practice has never tried before, ask yourself the following questions before getting underway:
- What common questions do I frequently hear from prospective clients or current clients?
- What changes are happening in my field that every potential client should know about?
- Do I have the time, interest, and energy to create and publish content myself, or should I leave content to marketing professionals?
Use your answers to determine when, where, and how your firm should use content to educate prospective clients in the community.
There are a few challenges that come with creating content, though. The growing popularity of content marketing and the ease with which attorneys can publish it these days has created an overabundance of information for potential clients. Some firms even have entire departments whose sole focus is to attract business through content marketing.
That’s why it’s important to dig deep to find what truly makes your firm unique. Are you known for doing more extensive research than your competitors? Achieving outstanding results for your clients? Getting to know them on a personal level? It can even be helpful to conduct external interviews with former clients or colleagues, in order to get an unbiased understanding of what sets your firm apart. There may only be one or two true differentiators for your practice, but in today’s competitive environment, it’s extremely important to understand and make them clear in your content.
Get Clear on Who Your Best Clients Are
For your brand to succeed, it can’t try to be all things to all people. Identify the types of clients you truly want to go after so you can build a brand that speaks directly to them.
For example, “married women” isn’t specific enough to be a good definition for who your “best clients” are. However, “married women between the ages of 35 and 45 living in the zip codes 90403, 90404, and 90505, earning more than $120,000” is specific enough.
Think about the characteristics or traits that your “best clients” have in common.
What ties your most valuable clients together? Is it their…
• Income level
• Education level
Or is it something else entirely?
Granted, it’s not always easy to get this specific, but the effort will pay off when you’re trying to build an impressive brand. It will make it easier to win business from (and form a connection with) the people who will give your firm the best chance of success.
Use Happy Clients to Your Advantage
Positive client reviews are a powerful form of educational content for two reasons:
- They shed light on the natural strengths of your firm.
- They provide social proof to the community that your practice can be trusted.
Nothing helps a legal practice cement its brand in the community like the endorsement of former clients. In fact, 91% of clients read some form of online review before choosing where to spend their money, and 68% form an opinion about a firm after reading as little as one online review.
Put plainly, prospective clients value social proof more than anything else.
Consumer-awareness platforms like Yelp and Google My Business are built around their ability to offer people unsolicited public reviews sourced from former clients. When it comes to the legal industry, these reviews are highly prized by prospective clients. From a brand-building perspective, your firm should engage with every review and comment it receives on these platforms. Even a simple thank you demonstrates your firm’s commitment to serving the community.
If your practice doesn’t have profiles on Google My Business, Yelp, and Facebook, create them immediately. Without those profiles, current clients have no way to leave reviews and future clients have nowhere to get the community-based affirmation they desire.
Above All, Be Consistent
You know how when you walk into an Apple Store, the store always looks and feels the same no matter where you are? Every brick-and-mortar location features the same minimalist layout, displays the products the same way, and plays the same music—that’s intentional. Apple is incredibly consistent with their brand because they want people to know exactly what they’re getting no matter where the store is.
The most important aspect to building a strong brand for your legal practice is consistency. If your brand is going to become a strong identity in the community, it needs to be reflected in every aspect of your firm. When you are consistent with your brand, you’ll instill confidence in your clients, strengthen your firm’s reputation, and lay a firm foundation for growth.
As you can see, building a strong, recognizable brand doesn’t happen overnight. It requires you to think deeply and honestly about what your practice does best, what it does differently than any other firms in your local market, who your ideal clients are, and how you can best communicate and follow through on the promises you make to prospective clients.
As an attorney, you know your firm best—therefore, it’s partially up to you to determine the unique factors that have gotten your practice to where it is today. However, there are people and solutions that can help you bring your success to the next level.
With two decades of experience in legal digital marketing and a cutting-edge advertising platform, Scorpion provides personal injury firms with the solutions and services it takes to reach your goals. We can help you hone in on your firm’s unique brand, then amplify your message to reach the exact types of clients you’re looking for.
If you’re interested in learning more about how our technology works to put your firm in front of the best possible clients, just visit ScorpionLegal.com or reach out to me directly at Nicolas.Gomez@Scorpion.co