Most business owners hear the term branding and immediately think logos and taglines. Their mind goes to the Nike swoosh logo or the McDonald’s arches. They tell themselves “I’ll never have a brand that’s recognizable like that.” In the case of law firms, the partners might mistakenly think that because they’re not selling a popular consumer product, creating a strong brand isn’t necessary. In reality, your brand is incredibly important to the success of your law practice.
In order to explain what branding means, let’s first detail what a brand is NOT.
Misconception: your brand is your logo
Although the visual identity of your company is important, it’s not the end all be all of your brand. Yes, Nike and McDonald’s are immediately recognizable by the visual representation of their logo. But that’s because they’ve also built a great customer experience. They deliver on the promises they made, and consumers keep returning because of that.
Misconception: your brand is your tagline
In order to stand out from the increase in competition, many companies create taglines, slogans and catchy messages to capture the attention of consumers. Taglines and mottos often become very recognizable, but that’s not your brand. A great slogan doesn’t necessarily mean the customer will have a good experience or start to build a relationship with a company. And if the customer has a bad experience, it can damage a company’s reputation and brand.
Misconception: branding is a once and done activity
Successful companies are evolving with the changes in consumer behavior. What was relevant a few years ago may not be applicable in today’s business environment. That’s why you need to periodically revisit your brand and how consumers perceive it.
So what is a brand? It’s the experience someone has with your company, and what they say about you when you’re not in the room.
You might be thinking “how will I know what my brand is if I don’t know what clients say!”
Well, this is why branding is all about the experience – from the first touch to the ongoing follow-up. You need to create strong marketing messages, and then deliver on those brand promises. As you work with a client, you should be reinforcing this message. And when the work is complete, the client should be singing your praises to their friends, family and business contacts.
Branding isn’t an isolated interaction with your company. It occurs over the duration of the relationship, and can evolve depending on the level of service you provide.
How can law firms build a strong brand?
One of the best ways to build a brand for your law firm is through inbound marketing. This differs from traditional outbound advertising tactics that bombard consumers with messages through TV, radio and print. Ten or 15 years ago, advertising was a relatively good way to build a brand – but that has changed!
Inbound marketing attracts potential customers to your business, placing an emphasis on quality content that positions the firm’s attorneys as experts. With the internet readily available, consumers are conducting research about potential solutions to their problem. The first interaction your law firm has with a potential client is likely through your website. That first touch should immediately start to position you as an expert and lay the foundation for your brand experience.
This where branding, marketing and sales begin to overlap, and why it’s important to have a good strategy in place. An inbound marketing strategy considers all of these steps, and ensures that you have a positive experience in place for each client. And when the work is done, there are steps in place to help spread the word about your brand, which will help attract new clients as well.
Have more questions about law firm branding? Leave a comment below and we’ll respond!