Before you can begin implementing aspects of a marketing plan, pause and reflect. Do you have a compelling law firm brand? Do people recognize you in the marketplace for what makes you different?
Whether you're in family law, personal injury law, or some other practice area, you need a way to help your clients choose you above other options.
If you're not sure of the answers to these questions, it's time for a rebranding. A deeper dive might be required to bring your law firm up to the level necessary to reach and convert prospective clients.
Your law firm's brand should be present throughout your marketing materials. Even with individual attorneys working for the firm, one cohesive brand should be seen in all of your marketing initiatives.
Let your brand strategy guide the other parts of your marketing strategy. Telling one strong story about who you are, who you help, and why you're the right choice to help that group of people goes a long way in setting your firm up for success.
What is Branding for Law Firms?
When most lawyers think about "legal branding," their business cards, law firm logo, and color schemes come to mind. While there's no doubt that having cohesive visual elements that tell your firm's story is essential, brand identity is about so much more.
Branding digs down into the personality of your business. Think about the landscape for legal services as it stands right now. Within your region, there are probably plenty of law firms of similar sizes with lawyers who have comparable experience and education.
For a consumer, if all those law firms don't brand themselves clearly, there's no perceived difference between one firm and another. You need differentiators to help your target clients feel like you're the perfect fit for them.
This is why branding is so important. Branding comprises your values, unique selling points, and the impressions you make on people. Branding goes beyond "looking good" and builds a relationship with a potential client early. If a company has a brand story that resonates, this drives action from target clients.
Research from Headstream shows that potential buyers are 55% more likely to purchase something in the future if the brand message resonates with them. Buyers are 44% more likely to share the brand story with others, and another 15% will buy immediately. Even if you're not directly selling a product but professional services, law firms can substantially impact their prospective clients with a great brand story.
Branding vs. Positioning
Branding and positioning are not the same for legal marketing, but are closely related.
With law firm positioning, you must:
- Define your ideal client
- Determine the marketing tactics that will reach that target client
- Know and articulate what makes you different from your competitors and why that matters
Branding, however, takes those elements and presents them to the world. In the increasingly competitive legal industry, branding and positioning are linked and work together to appeal to potential clients.
Branding vs. Reputation
Your brand gets amplified with a strong reputation. For example, if a personal injury law firm has a track record of winning big settlements in truck accidents, its reputation likely precedes it with other lawyers, insurance adjusters, and even victims.
While your reputation is not your entire brand, they are connected. The messages you put out as your brand and how you reach your audience build your reputation. Over time, this continues to influence your brand for better or worse. Consistency is key, so if your brand is built around personalized attention, make sure that it's a clear focus in every case.
Reputation and branding can help to attract more of your ideal clients. If you develop a reputation for handling catastrophic and complex injury cases and continue to deliver a good experience for those clients, their word-of-mouth referrals and online reviews speak volumes to other clients with similar cases. This social proof makes your firm stand out from other injury practices.
Personal Brands and Business Brands
While your law firm has a business brand, the lawyers who work at the firm can also develop brands of their own. Personal branding for attorneys can contribute to a potential client's perception of the law firm.
If you have a multi-specialty practice, but your lead personal injury lawyer has spent ample time beefing up their online presence, your firm may see an increase in PI cases because of a combination of the law firm's brand and that individual lawyer's brand.
Think about civil rights attorney Ben Crump and his brand. After representing the families of victims in several high-profile cases, Crump is a nationally-recognized name.
His personal brand and his firm’s brand are intrinsically linked to one another, and this shows in the messaging used on his website.
Crump reinforces his brand on social media by posting consistent and clear messages that demonstrate his passion and concern for justice, civil rights, police accountability, and racial inequality.
Ben Crump didn’t become a household name solely because he represented victims’ families in some of the most high-profile cases of the last few years. He’s spent significant time building his brand by keeping his voice in the public sphere.
Because Crump consistently speaks out, more people are exposed to him. Because his message is clear, more people know who he represents and why he represents them.
The brand recognition that Crump’s actions generate benefits his firm and its brand by association.
Not every law firm can attain the recognition achieved by Ben Crump, but that shouldn’t stop you from learning from his actions and using those lessons to build your brand.
Key Components of a Strong Law Firm Brand
Two key components help make a strong law firm brand: consistency and clarity.
With consistency, you need a plan for getting your brand out there that you can keep up with. The time to carry this out and the actual costs in your budget are worth reviewing.
With clarity, you should communicate who you are and what makes you unique on every platform where you market your law practice.
A consistent brand matters for all law firms, but it's vital for managing small law firms. This is because it's within your control to ensure that your law firm’s website design and content, social media posts, and ads all broadcast the same consistent message.
For example, if a law firm determines that its unique positioning is in handling car accident cases resulting in permanent injuries, that message should be found everywhere in the law firm's marketing. The law firm might:
- Blog about kinds of catastrophic injuries
- Talk about the intersection between workers comp and personal injury claims with disabilities in videos
- Reference the fact that other lawyers often refer more complicated cases to this personal injury practice
This clear and consistent message is likely to resonate with an injury victim or the family member helping them find the right law firm.
While plenty of personal injury firms represent victims in car accident cases, this firm's unique message is that there's too much at stake with a permanent disability claim. A victim who wants the most experienced and focused lawyer for a lifelong injury will likely hire this firm if the messaging is consistent.
You must be clear about who your target audience is and where you'll reach them. Trying to appeal to everyone for everything is a recipe for disaster. This is too generic and doesn't allow you to stand out from all the other law firms offering similar services.
Once you're crystal clear about who your target client is and where they spend time, take it one step further. Tell a strong story about why that client should pick you and what you can offer that others cannot.
How Large Law Firms Approach Branding
Morgan & Morgan is one of the country’s most recognized and strongly branded personal injury firms. Everyone knows they exist, and their billboards and TV commercials are everywhere. Their digital marketing mix includes a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.
Most importantly, the message they send across all these channels is clear and consistent. They adapt their posts for each channel to meet the expectations of the platform’s users while still sending out the same message and brand signals.
For example, attorney John Morgan’s posts on TikTok or YouTube Shorts are slice-of-life musings on everything from legal advice to pop culture because the casual audiences on those platforms expect personable content.
Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn posts run the gamut of post types that audiences on those platforms have come to expect. This includes infographics, celebrations of case successes, motivational posts, and even relevant memes.
Morgan & Morgan’s posts and ads may range from upbeat and goofy to heartfelt and empathetic, but every one conveys the same themes about the brand.
They lean heavily into the size and scope of their firm while still maintaining a personal touch for their clients. They consistently talk about fighting for all people everywhere with their nationwide team.
These concepts can be boiled down to their simple, memorable motto: "For the People."
This phrase reinforces the idea that they fight hard for victims no matter where they are. Their consistent messaging about the size of their firm and the billions of dollars they’ve recovered helps build trust with their audience.
Thanks to their marketing strategies, Morgan & Morgan has built up extensive awareness and trust to the point that they are instantly recognizable across the country.
How Small Law Firms Can Create a Great Brand
While you might have limited resources compared with giants like Morgan & Morgan, you can still create a great brand as a small law firm. The most important thing you can do is create clear messaging that's consistent across all the platforms where you connect with your audience.
The Dolman Law Group is a clear example of an attorney's personal brand strengthening a firm's brand.
The firm has a solid and consistent presence on Facebook, where they know their primary audience consumes content. They also post content on LinkedIn that is distinct from the Facebook posts but remain consistent with the brand image.
Attorney Matthew Dolman supports the firm’s brand with his personal brand by posting original content on TikTok and sharing news on his Twitter profile. Like Morgan & Morgan’s TikTok account, Dolman’s videos showcase his personality and interests while also allowing him to answer legal questions his audience may ask.
By building up his personal brand, he builds up awareness of his firm. By putting his personality out there to viewers, he lends some of his character to the firm's brand. His personal brand helps augment the firm’s unique identity.
@mattthelawyer Do you have any Medical malpractice stories? #fyp #law #medicalmalpractice ♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) - Danilo Stankovic
Dolman also co-hosts a podcast with partner Stanley Gipe, further combining the firm's brand with his own. Few attorneys take the time to create a podcast, so the fact that Dolman has one helps set the brand apart from the competition.
The long-form content the pair create on their show allows them to analyze legal questions, demonstrate their expertise, and even discuss their interests outside of practicing law. This helps them cement their brand’s identity as a smart, modern law firm that knows when to play hard and when to have fun.
How to Create Your Law Firm's Brand
To create a cohesive and compelling law firm brand, you must know your target audience, determine the brand values and mission, and create your brand's story. This will help prospective clients understand what you do and decide that you're the right fit for them.
1. Know Your Target Audience
Knowing your target audience is critical for building your brand as a law firm.
If you've been in practice for some time, look back at your past ten cases. What do they have in common? Which of those cases did you prefer, and what elements made them unique? If you're new, think about who you want to represent.
Your target audience might share demographic data points and expectations of what they're looking for in a lawyer.
For example, a divorce firm focused on mediation isn't likely to attract a client looking for "an aggressive fighter to get me everything I'm entitled to."
Find your target audience by considering what these clients have in common and the messages that resonate best with them.
2. Determine Your Brand's Values and Mission
If it's been some time since you revisited your brand's values and missions, or you've never done it, reflect on what encouraged you to become a lawyer in the first place and what motivates you daily.
Defining your brand promise involves thinking about the passion and drive you bring to the table for each one of your clients. Your brand promise and unique selling position should always be created as a combination of your target audience's needs and your values/identity.
3. Create Your Brand's Story
Creating a brand story is important because it helps you achieve multiple goals at the same time, including:
- Allowing you to stand out in a sea of sameness
- Aligning your business with a mission or value system
- Connecting you directly with their audience and what they need most
- Generating a memorable brand experience and increased brand loyalty
According to branding expert Stephanie Jiroch, three major components must be clearly expressed in your branding: themes, characters, and conflict.
Your theme must be one thing that works throughout your entire law firm, a consistent thread that communicates value to your target audience.
With character, don't focus too much on the law firm or its attorneys as the hero of the story. Instead, you're the knowledgeable guides allowing your client to achieve a positive outcome. This makes your law firm client the hero, not you.
Finally, you must stand for something. Stories build emotional connections, so you must explain the force, organization, policy, or idea your law firm is against.
For a medical malpractice firm, the lawyers might be united in protecting the rights of victims harmed by hospitals prioritizing profits over proper staffing. A consumer protection law firm stands against predatory practices that cause financial harm to people.
Too many law firms struggle to land on a solid theme. This means they end up relying on a few different themes, ultimately unable to create consistency in their marketing.
Remember the Morgan & Morgan tagline, "For the People?”
This is a clear theme that says a lot about the firm in only a few words. It's instantly recognizable and calls up a picture of lawyers who fight hard on behalf of people who end up in bad situations that are not their fault.
Don't mix themes, as this creates a contradictory message that might negatively impact your brand. Instead, brainstorm on what one theme could be clear and consistent across time and client cases.
Do you think of your law firm as the main character in the story you're trying to tell?
If so, that's a big mistake. Your client is the hero of their own story. They come to you with a legal problem that, with your expertise and experience, you help them with as a guide.
Your client should feel as if your law firm will put their needs as the top priority and that you'll be there to guide them through the legal process they're facing.
It's definitely important to discuss the benefits of the service you provide. Those are valuable and helpful for a client, but they don't go far enough to create a strong brand story. You must also be ready to address a client's pain points.
If you're struggling to figure out what this looks like for your firm, consider the following question: who is the enemy you fight against for your client?
For example, with a personal injury lawyer, that conflict might be with insurance companies. For a criminal defense lawyer, the conflict might be with a justice system that doesn't always serve justice or protect constitutional rights.
4. Get Your Message to Your Target Audience
Being consistent gives you the best chance of getting in front of your ideal clients. Getting your message to your audience usually occurs through content marketing and SEO marketing for law firms. If you haven't yet implemented a consistent plan to make that happen, now is an excellent time to find a marketing partner to help guide you through that process.
Build on Your Law Firm Branding with Expert Marketers
When you have a firmly established brand and know how you'll reach your target clients, it's the perfect foundation to build your marketing efforts.
A marketing agency can make a big difference in capitalizing on all the work you put into the branding process.
At Rankings.io, we're committed to ensuring that law firms get in front of their target audience consistently to help drive more leads and new clients. We can help you use your brand to drive clients to your website through SEO so that you have more qualified leads and a strong online presence.
To learn more about how we can help you grow your brand and legal practice, contact us today.