An amicus brief on branding for law firms

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You’re a partner at a law firm

You know the organization needs a stronger brand identity and a better marketing program to carry it forward. Relying strictly on referrals just isn’t cutting it.

But you have some problems. Nobody has time to focus on it because everyone’s taking care of clients. Maybe no one believes in it. And you don’t want to pay for an agency-led “branding process.”

The only thing tougher than getting attorneys to agree on anything is…well, actually, nothing is tougher than that. Not even getting cats to march in the Macy’s Day parade. But the individuality of lawyers doesn’t need to stand in the way of brand development for your firm.

If there are no objections, here’s a handful of 5 pointers

1. Don’t start with the logo. Evolving the firm’s logo may be long overdue, but it’s a patch, not a fix. Leave it alone until there’s consensus around the need for a clear brand, and what that identity really is. Then the logo will align.

2. Don’t get hung up on a slogan. Lawyers are very, very sensitive to language, and many will want to craft the firm’s message. We caution against it. There are some very strong law firm taglines out there but it’s important to know who you are before condensing it to marketing language. Insist on holding off on slogans until you know what attributes you want to represent.

3. Admit that every lawyer has his or her own “brand.” The widespread belief among lawyers is that clients hire an attorney, not a firm. So why build a brand around the entire practice? Answer: Because the well being of the whole is more important than the success of any single component – for recruitment, new business development, and industry reputation. To get over this hurdle, convince stakeholders that it’s possible to satisfy both objectives at once. Which brings us to…

4. Focus on content. In our experience, lawyers loathe fluff when it comes to marketing. So consider the following:

Start a blog. The content can be authored by different attorneys to showcase their expertise.

– Try a webinar. Build a presentation on trends, opinions, and fact-based legal experience. Record it and repurpose it as seminar content for businesses and B2B gatherings.

Do Q&A profiles with individual attorneys. A quick and easy way to create good content is to conduct interviews with attorneys and position the content on the firm’s website. This way, visitors can “hear” the attorney speak and get to know their style of communication and their way of thinking.

5. Think digital. A consumer survey done by FindLaw found that web-based searches for lawyers now outpace referrals from friends and colleagues, having increased from 7% to nearly 40% in the last 9 years. This is a recent development. A 2012 study still had direct referrals as the #1 way people searched for a lawyer or a law firm So consider:

Cultivate honest reviews from clients and request that they post them to primary lawyer review-and-rating sites such as avvo and martindale

Place geo-targeted banners on carefully selected websites rather than printing brochures and running ads in local papers.

Use LinkedIn. It’s a low-cost way of reaching people and without it you’ll seem small and irrelevant. So update your page and get clued in to best practices for law firms on LinkedIn.

In closing

Most law firms struggle with branding because they’re busy with clients (we get it), or there’s no one in charge of it, or there’s no decision-making tree. But you have to start somewhere. So contact us for a case study we think is a strong model for legal brand development.