Many firms, especially small ones, think that branding is only the province of large corporations or huge law firms, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is, every law firm—and every solo practice—needs to think about its branding. After all, anyone who has heard of your firm has some kind of opinion about it, whether it’s positive, negative or indifferent. And whether you plan to or not, every time your firm appears in the news, or advertises in a local paper or gets a visitor to its website, you’re helping shape that opinion. Rather than do so haphazardly, you may as well take your time to consider how you want your firm to be perceived, and devise a plan to help you get there. You may as well, in other words, attempt to brand your firm. Here are some tips on how to do so effectively.
1 What general quality does your law firm have that makes it unique? Before you can start branding, you have to decide what your brand should look be. Is your firm particularly aggressive or discriminating or experienced? Pick an element of your firm that both sets it apart from your competitors and that is something valued by your clients, and find ways to work that aspect of your firm into every interaction with your clients and prospective clients. If you’ve been around for a while without consciously branding your firm, then you should begin by speaking with your clients and asking them a few questions about how they view your firm. This will help you determine how you should approach your branding.
2 How, specifically, does your firm display that quality? If you decide that your firm is aggressive, for example, how specifically does that aggressiveness manifest itself? Do you settle less often than other firms? Are your legal arguments unexpected and bold? Take those specific examples and be sure that your advertisement, marketing and website copy highlight them. The more effectively you showcase what makes your firm unique, the more your clients and prospective clients will associate your firm with that quality.
3 What other steps can you take to highlight your brand? For those companies that want to be associated with customer service, for example, their hiring and training practices are all geared towards producing employees gifted at handling customers. They make sure that their contact information is prominently displayed on their website and promotional materials. Their phone system includes redundancies so that they can handle high call volumes. In short, they plan carefully and invest time and money in successfully branding themselves: and your firm needs to do the same thing.
4 Use the Internet to aid your branding efforts. The Internet is a tremendous tool when it comes to branding. An ever-growing number of new clients find their lawyers through the Internet—a place where a little elbow grease can pay large and inexpensive dividends. Here are two affordable ways to promote your brand
- a. Video directories. These are similar to law firm directories, but instead of a static profile, you can create and upload videos. By being able to present yourself and your firm directly to the client, you’ll be able to brand yourself far more effectively than through text or photography.
- b. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Tweaking your law firm’s website in order to make it more attractive to search engines like Google and Yahoo! is a great way to increase your firm’s exposure. When you select your search terms, you’ll obviously want to focus on those that relate to your branding strategy.
The ultimate goal of branding is to get consumers to associate your law firm with a particular image or idea or even word. Choosing what you want your brand to be, and then systematically putting these steps into place will go a long way towards achieving that end.