Your firm's brand will be far more important in 2017 than in the past simply because more law firms are on the Internet competing for space. Having a brand identity and message will lead to more targeted and consistent marketing, which will increase your business.
What is a brand?
A brand is a name and/or symbol that uniquely identifies a seller's goods or services in the market. Brands enable customers to rapidly recognize the providers of services. Over time, and with consumer experience, brands acquire reputations for quality, value, price-level, reliability, and several other traits that help consumers choose among competing offerings. In legal terms, a brand is a trademark.
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 things such 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.
Developing your firm's brand.
Start by creating a firm brand journal. This is important if you have staff and several lawyers in your firm. You want everyone to be on the same page and a journal can help. Make sure to include:
- Your firm's business goals, including planned practice additions or changes
- Your logo and color palette
- The descriptive words you use in marketing
- A description of your target audience
The secret to successful branding is to take time to plan so all the parts merge into one identifiable pattern that clients recognize. Think about how your clients view your firm. Don't know? Simply ask—why did you come to our firm? The answers may surprise you. It may be simply because you were geographically close and your firm description included your work in a charity the consumer supports. All of those facts are part of your brand.
While it's true that clients develop relationships with particular lawyers, only through law firm loyalty created by good service and 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. It's also true that in-house counsel has an easier time selling XYZ law firm to their board if it's known and its image is easily recognizable.
Branding is important for both large and solo law firms. When a solo retires and sells the practice, its value is based on the network of referrals, connections, word of mouth business, and the strength of the firm's reputation—all indicators of a strong brand developed and sustained over many years. Taking the long view of your firm's branding will help you understand that not everything you do to promote your firm will have immediate results. However, by patiently promoting your brand, your firm's business will grow.
Your profile in 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.
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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