Your Firm, Your Brand

Clear & Convincing Feature Article

Your Firm, Your Brand

brand, per the American Marketing Association, is “A name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.”

Think of the brands you know—Coca Cola, McDonald's, Target, Meijer, Apple—each has a distinct name, image, and color you can recognize anywhere. McDonald's in Moscow displays the golden arches and the same picture menu (with a few variances to account for local taste) as the McDonald's in your hometown making it easy to order. The language may be different, but the service and taste is roughly the same. You know what to expect.

Your law firm has a brand, whether it is one you created and control or one imposed on you from the outside world. It is a combination of reputation and such things as the font you use on your business cards, the colors and style of furniture in your office, the words you use in advertising, or the sign on your door. The secret is to develop a strategy so it all merges into one identifiable pattern that clients recognize. 

But clients hire lawyers, not law firms.

While it’s true that clients develop relationships with particular lawyers, it is also true that only through law firm loyalty created by good service along with branding will clients stay on if that lawyer retires. For junior members of the firm, a strong firm brand can help a lesser-known lawyer get better speaking opportunities, appointment to a prestigious non-profit board, or be quoted by the media. In-house counsel have an easier time selling XYZ law firm to their board if it’s known and its image is easily recognizable.

It’s important to be consistent. Law firms must use the same colors, logo, imagery, and promotional language over time to be easily recognizable to their present and future clients. Placing the firm name or using the wrong words in the wrong place can damage the firm image. An elder law firm would not use the same images or words as a litigation firm. Brand consistency is a factor in achieving recognition.

An effective law firm branding strategy will:

  • Help with new business development
  • Support client loyalty
  • Cross-sell services if you’re a full service firm
  • Stimulate internal pride in the firm

A firm’s brand makes a promise; it tells the world what service to expect and how it will be delivered.

To create an effective brand for your firm, you need a strategic plan. To create a strategic plan you will need to:

  • Know your firm’s business goals
  • Understand your firm’s culture
  • Be clear about where it fits in the marketplace

Spend some quiet time thinking and you will find the right brand for you—a brand that will complement your marketing strategy, reflect who you are, and be consistent in how the firm is perceived.  The right brand will resonate with your target clients and with the firm’s staff making them proud to be associated with something greater than themselves.

Your profile on the SBM Member Directory is part of your brand. ZeekBeek makes it easy with its expanded profile, where you can include location, courts where you practice, languages spoken, publications, or events. Check it out.

Roberta GubbinsRoberta Gubbins has served as the editor of the Ingham County Legal News. Since leaving the paper, she provides services as a ghostwriter editing articles, blogs, and e-blasts for lawyers and law firms. She is the editor of Briefs, the Ingham County Bar Association e-newsletter, and The Mentor, SBM Master Lawyers Section Newsletter.

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