Branding is Essential to a Successful Law Practice
Branding is the cornerstone of your practice. It is the framework, the basis of all your marketing decisions, and the way you communicate your values as a lawyer. It tells consumers what you are and how you practice law. And, if they like what you are and how you practice, they will hire you and refer others to your door. Your particular brand pulls people to you.
Your sense of brand began when you decided what type of law to practice. That decision helped you set the foundation for all the other decisions you made such as:
- The type of service you provide
- The geographic location for your practice
- Your idea of the client you wish to serve
Branding v. Marketing
While marketing can find and activate clients, branding is what makes them loyal to you and your firm, and what makes them send more people your way. All organizations, including law firms, must sell to succeed. How they make those sales may differ. The thoughts, actions, policies, ads, and marketing promotions either encourage or discourage brand loyalty to those exposed to them.
Branding v. Reputation
Brand differs from reputation. Brand focuses on what type of service the firm promises to its clients. The brand is how the customer differentiates your service from that of another firm. Your brand helps communicate that your firm's services are uniquely qualified to meet a client's needs. Its strength depends on how well you fulfill your promise to your clients.
Reputation focuses on the credibility and respect your firm has with employees, other lawyers, the community, and customers. Your reputation is affected by your financial performance, management skills, treatment of employees, and handling of ethical issues. A strong reputation is important because you depend on the goodwill of the local community in which you operate to succeed.
It is your brand of service, however, that creates loyal clients. It's what sticks in their minds when the task is completed. Clients who write "Above all, he is a great human being who genuinely cares for his clients." (divorce lawyer) or "They work very hard to make sure you have winning results." (criminal) or "They made me feel like we were working together as a team." (personal injury) are expressing their opinion of your brand, your values—their lived experience of your style of service.
Consistency Protects Brands
To protect your brand, it's important to be consistent. Successful law firm brands will be those that provide a consistent client experience. Law firms also must be consistent in the physical expression of their brand such as using 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.
How do I Find My Brand?
Think and you will discover your brand. A brand that will complement your marketing strategy, reflect who you are, and be consistent in how the firm is perceived. The right brand is the foundation of a successful practice. It will resonate with your target clients. Understand and protect yours.
Roberta 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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