It happens without notice. You’re out and about, going to work, running an errand or taking the kids to school. You’re thinking about what you need to get done and suddenly you’re involved in a car accident. You’ve gone from hoping to remember to grab milk to wondering how you’re going to pay for the damages the accident just cost. And you’re usually in shock after a car accident, even if it’s a minor one.
It’s vital to call and report the accident asap, ask for an EMT and police officer to be dispatched to the scene. Even if medical attention does not seem to be required, it’s important for medical personnel to be there just in case. Also, you’re going to want the police there in order for you to fill out an accident report. An accident report is going to come in handy later one. Here’s why.
Reasons An Accident Report is Needed
The police accident report is going to contain information regarding the other drivers and help your attorney when he starts his investigation into your accident. The police report will contain the other driver’s name, contact and insurance information. The police report will also contain information about the owner of the vehicle if he happens to be different from the driver. The accident report will also contain:
-The date, time and location of the accident;
-The weather conditions;
-Detailed information regarding the road conditions;
-The name and contact information regarding eyewitnesses to the accident;
-Descriptions of the cars involved and the damages each car sustained;
-A description of the vehicles involved and the damage to the vehicles;
-Names and contact information of the injury victims and whether or not they required medical attention; and
-Information regarding the accident, including information regarding the accident scene, statements made to law enforcement, and a determination as to what each driver may have contributed to the accident.
It’s important to note that not all police reports are detailed and contain the above described information. Some law enforecement officers are more detailed in completing their report than others, but it is still in your best interest to make sure you obtain a police report that contains information regarding the accident. Your personal injury attorney may use the police report as part of information presented to the insurance company to establish liability.
The Possibility for Errors
It is possible that a police report will contain errors, so it’s a good idea to obtain a copy of the police report as soon as you can after the car accident. Always review the report and take note of any errors. Only factual information, such as the date, location and names of everyone involved, can be changed. If you dispute something another driver or witness has said, you can’t have the report changed just based on your opinion.
If you find errors, it’s best to let your attorney know as soon as possible in order to have the report corrected. It’s possible you can have a written addendum added if the police refuse to alter the information in the report. For more information regarding accident injuries, contact http://russellandhill.com/
It happens without notice. You’re out and about, going to work, running an errand or taking the kids to school. You’re thinking about what you need to get done and suddenly you’re involved in a car accident. You’ve gone from hoping to remember to grab milk to wondering how you’re going to pay for the damages the accident just cost. And you’re usually in shock after a car accident, even if it’s a minor one.
Blogs educate and entertain. They can help with SEO and can turn leads into clients. Blogs are also a great way to express your law firm’s brand identity. Remember, a law firm brand is more than a logo, color or slogan. It expresses of your law firm’s culture and identity.
Unlike a slogan or logo, a blog lets a potential client hear your voice. You can discuss issues that are important to you and your clients in detail. Readers learn your perspective and outlook through your writing. Every blog post is a chance to express your law firm’s culture.
How to Choose the Right Blog Subjects
Blog posts should not directly sell your legal services. Instead, a blog posts should help clients understand the legal system and their rights.
Often, people find a blog post because they are searching for information about a particular issue (and not for a lawyer). If your blog post focuses too much on your law firm’s services, the potential client may go elsewhere for the information she needs.
There are several ways to find good subject matter. You can address your client’s most frequent questions and issues. Or, you can perform keyword research through programs like Google’s Keyword Planner.
How to Format a Legal Blog Post
Regardless of how you find a subject, make sure that your blog post is informative and easy to read. People often skim blogs. You want to make sure that your readers are absorbing the right information.
Use Headings to Highlight Key Ideas
Most blogs include headings. Headings can help with SEO and highlight key points for your readers. You may want to use multiple headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) if you are writing a lengthy blog post.
Again, many people only skim a blog for information. If your post is long and does not contain headings, readers may not find it helpful.
White Space Makes Blogs Easier to Read
Lawyers love writing long, detailed articles. Remember, your blog is not a law review! While your readers are looking for helpful information, they probably don’t want a treatise. Again, they may just skim your post.
White space is the space around your text. It makes content easier to read on a screen. Try to include a good amount of white space on your blog. Break your text into small, easily readable segments.
Use Calls to Action
A call to action may be an offer for an e-book, a subscription to your newsletter or a free consultation. On your blog, you are not selling your law firm. But, potential clients may want more information than your post provides.
You can convert a reader into a potential client by offering a call to action. Calls to action offer valuable information in exchange for contact information. You can strategically place offers for newsletters and free consultations at the bottom of a blog post or on the sidebar.
Once you get a potential client’s information, make sure your law firm follows up and contacts them (either via email or by phone).
Make Sure Your Post is Mobile-Friendly
Your law firm’s website should be responsive. In other words, your website should format itself to fit your reader’s screen.
It can be challenging navigate a traditional website on your smartphone. Smartphone and tablets are the most common way for potential clients search the internet. If your website is hard to read (or outdated), they will go elsewhere for information.
How to Publicize Your Blog Posts
Social media is one of the most effective ways to share blog posts. Use your law firm’s social media feeds (including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) to promote blog posts. If your lawyers have their own professional social media feeds, have them share posts.
The hope is that your posts will be shared by clients, other lawyers and everyone else on the internet. If a blog post goes viral, your law firm will have tremendous exposure.
How to Use Data to Build a Better Blog
You can track a blog’s impact by using tools like Google Analytics. As your blog grows, look at which blog posts get the most views, shares and comments. Do these blog posts have a similar subject or format? Do your readers respond better to list posts or infographics? Use this information to create more popular blog posts.
Legal blogging is an art and a science. Your law firm needs to write compelling content and structure it so your readers (and the search engines) value it. This can take time and effort. If you need help with a blog, there are consultants and writers who can assist you. Visit the following blog for a perfect example to follow when it comes to formatting and blog content: http://www.losangelesduilawyernow.com/blog/.
Too often, law firms focus on getting clients, rather than keeping them. A successful legal brand attracts good clients and turns them into brand advocates. And, comprehensive branding and marketing strategy can help with client retention.
Law firm brands are the public expression of your firm’s culture and mission. It is more than a logo, slogan, or website. Branding also includes client communications and relationship building.
The Importance of Customer Service
Marketing does not end when a prospective client signs a retainer. Your clients expect more than litigation services. They hired your law firm because they liked your culture and mission. Now, you need to put the rubber to the road.
Every client interaction should reflect your law firm’s brand. If you promised to be compassionate and friendly, don’t push clients off the phone. You and your staff need to be living examples of your firm’s brand identity.
Welcome your clients to your community and keep them engaged. Send targeted newsletters or blog posts. Ask them for their opinions. (For more information, see our article about client questionnaires and reviews.) Show your appreciation.
And, keep them updated on their cases. There is an increasing number of software solutions that can help lawyers communicate with their clients.
The Benefits of Client Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
Communication is vital to the attorney-client relationship. Small firms often send letters to clients. But, you may want to consider using a legal Client Relationship Management (CRM) system.
CRM software is more than a client database. These systems give a structure to client communications. You can schedule appointments, phone calls and other communications through CRM software. CRM’s also can track leads and help convert them into clients.
If your law firm struggles with client communications, a legal CRM may help improve your organization.
The Benefits of Project Management Tools
Lawyers rarely think of themselves as project managers. But, you are working with a group of people to resolve a problem—it’s a project!
Law firms can use project management tools or a client portal to share documents and information with clients. While email can do the same thing, it may be easier to have all your communications in one place. (No one likes searching through email.)
Project management systems and client portals may also be more secure than email. It is easy to waive attorney-client privilege in an email thread. And, privacy is not assured when you email a client’s work or shared personal account. (At the least, encrypt and password-protect your client emails.)
No matter how you communicate, make sure your clients are updated and engaged in your legal representation.
Engage Clients Through Blogs and Social Media
Blogs and social media are a great way to engage clients. A law firm can give legal updates, helpful advice and feel-good moments to their clients through blogs and social media feeds. These posts will keep you in the forefront of your client’s mind and can build trust.
For more information, see our articles about social media and blog posts.
What is a Brand Advocate?
A brand advocate is a law firm’s best marketing tool. Lawyers and staff members become brand advocates when they embody the firm’s brand identity and core values. Clients become brand advocates when they share your message with others.
Lawyers often get their best referrals from their clients. A client’s review or recommendation is invaluable. And, it extends your law firm’s brand. Firm reputation is a huge part of your brand, and nothing is more authentic than a client’s expression of your brand identity.
Even if you lose a case, a client can become a brand advocate. If your law firm exceeded their expectations in customer service, communication and culture, they still may refer you new clients. Good results can come in a lot of forms.
Every client interaction should reflect your law firm’s identity. If you have questions about law firm branding and client retention, contact a branding consultant for help.
Successful legal marketing is based on brands. A legal brand is not just a logo. Instead, it is a law firm or lawyer’s public image. Usually brands focus on culture, identity and mission.
Brands help differentiate a law firm or lawyer from its competition by educating clients on HOW and WHY they practice law. Clients often choose a law firm or lawyer because of an emotional connection or shared values.
Most law firms have multiple brands. These brands can include:
- Law firm brands
- Personal (lawyer) brands
Each of these brands is a separate identity and personality. (For more information, see our article about the relationship between law firm and lawyer brands.)
Large firms may have practice area brands. These brands are sometimes called subsidiary brands.
Why Should a Law Firm Use Practice Area Brands?
Law firms usually have more than one area of practice. Sometimes, these practice areas can be easily branded together. For example, workers’ compensation and Social Security practices can be branded similarly. (Both sets of clients are facing medical uncertainty, cannot work and want to assure their financial security.)
But, different practice areas can appeal to different buyer personas. A buyer persona is a subset of a law firm’s client base. Law firms can use buyer personas to attract their ideal clients through targeted marketing. (For more information, see our article about legal buyer personas.)
Your criminal defense buyer personas may differ greatly from your law firm’s Child SSI personas. If your law firm is having difficulty attracting the right clients, it may want to consider practice area brands.
But, there are risks involved when a law firm uses multiple brands. Sometimes, the brand messages and identities can conflict. Personal and subsidiary brands can also dilute the law firm brand’s core message.
Factors to Consider Before You Build Practice Area Brands
Again, practice area brands are not always necessary. A law firm should evaluate their practice and law firm brand before creating new brands. Introduce new brands only when they give a strategic advantage.
Are Your Buyer Personas Different?
Your law firm should do market research about their buyer personas. Have each practice area create a list of their buyer personas. You can use your own client data to determine what types of people use each practice area. Competitors’ websites also may give insight into untapped buyer persona markets. (Who are they marketing to?)
Once each practice area has described its buyer personas, compare the lists. You may be surprised to see that the demographics are similar. If there are marked differences, your law firm may benefit from practice area branding.
Is Your Law Firm Brand Too Narrow?
As law firms age, they often change missions or diversify. A business law firm may grow to offer estate planning and bankruptcy assistance. If the law firm’s brand stays narrowly focused on business development, it may not attract the right clients to its other practice areas.
Rebranding can be a good thing. An outdated or overly defined brand can cause tension in a law firm. Lawyers whose practice areas are underrepresented (or ignored) will feel left out. Their brands will conflict with the law firm identity, and they will lose clients.
Before building a separate brand for a practice area, make sure your law firm brand has room to grow. All of your subsidiary and personal brands should fit under the umbrella of your law firm brand.
If your law firm brand seems too narrow, shift your focus from one area of practice to your firm’s core values. A strong law firm brand often focuses on its culture and mission. Talk about what makes your firm exceptional.
Does a Practice Area Brand Dilute your Law Firm Brand?
Your law firm’s brand is your most valuable marketing asset. If your firm creates too many brands, it risks diluting its message. Make sure you align all brands, both subsidiary and personal, with your overarching law firm brand.
Build a practice brand as a subsidiary. It should use the law firm’s logo and color palette, if possible. A subsidiary brand may have a different voice or outlook, but it should be clear that it is part of your legal organization.
Branding can help attract and retain clients. But, it’s difficult to define and build a brand. If your law firm is struggling with its brand, or is considering a rebrand, it should contact a marketing professional.
Law firms have been slow to embrace social media. But, social media (like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) have become increasingly important marketing tools.
Globally, billions of people use social media every day. Social media is not just for cat videos and pictures of cute babies. Increasingly, we rely on social media provides for news and information.
Today, a law firm must have a social media presence to survive.
Law Firm Branding and Social Media
Social media feeds are a wonderful way to express your law firm’s brands. Social media allows lawyers instant access to their clients and followers. It gives clients a steady feed of information that educates and entertains.
Your law firm’s posts should reflect your brand. A brand is the public face of your law firm. It describes your cultural identity and law firm mission. Avoid posting information that does not align with your firm’s core values.
What should a law firm share on social media?
Your social media feeds should not just be targeted at prospective clients. Many of your followers are current or past clients. Posts should speak to people at every phase of the buyer’s journey.
The legal buyer’s journey describes how people develop from potential clients to brand advocates. The journey is described as follows:
- A person searches for basic information about a problem.
- He identifies his problem, and considers his possible solutions.
- He wants an attorney, and begins to lawyer shop.
- Now a client, he wants ongoing service and value.
(See our article about marketing fundamentals for more about the buyer’s journey.)
People find different information helpful at different phases of their journey. Your posts may include:
- Basic information that would educate the general population about your practice.
- Legal updates that impact your clients.
- Feel-good stories.
- Reminders about community events that impact your clients.
Try to keep your posts informative and entertaining. If you want to create a longer discussion of an issue, share a link to your blog.
But, social media needs to be treated with caution. Along with its benefits, social media can pose branding and ethical challenges.
Personal vs. Professional Accounts
Lawyers should keep their personal and professional social media accounts separate. Most lawyers do not want their clients seeing their vacation pictures. At best, you are over-sharing with your clients. At worst, your personal images and posts can damage your professional brand.
Keep your personal social media accounts private. It’s pointless to keep a professional account if your personal account is open to the public.
Legal Ethics and Social Media
Lawyers must follow their State Bar’s ethical rules. Often, there are specific rules on advertising and client solicitation. These rules apply to social media. Here are some best practices:
Don’t Publish Confidential Information
Lawyers and law firms should not publish client information without the client’s signed consent. It’s tempting to post war stories on social media. Client success stories are compelling.
But, if you give too much detail, you may violate your clients’ right to confidentiality. Tread carefully, and when in doubt, ask for permission.
Don’t Accidentally Create an Attorney-Client Relationship
A lawyer publishes a blog post. In the comment section, a person asks questions about a claim. The lawyer responds with legal advice.
The lawyer may have accidentally created an attorney-client relationship.
Once there is an attorney-client relationship, you must protect the client’s privacy and avoid conflicts of interest. You should avoid giving legal advice online. You should also put disclaimers in your comments.
Requesting a Connection Can Be Solicitation
A construction law specialist meets a developer at a social event. The next morning, she sends the developer a LinkedIn request. Has she improperly solicited a client?
Lawyers should be careful when making social media connections. The individual could already be represented, or your friend request could be considered a solicitation.
Use Disclaimers to Protect Yourself
Don’t forget that social media is really a marketing tool for your law firm. Make disclaimers that your posts are general, and should not be considered legal advice.
If you need help with your social media strategies, speak with a marketing consultant.
Logos, color and fonts are some of the easiest ways law firms express their brand. But, design elements are not your law firm’s brand. Instead, logos and images help your clients understand your firm’s identity and outlook.
Good design helps define a brand!
Logos can be powerful expressions of brand identity. Mouse ears and or golden arches make us think of their representative brands immediately. Law firm logos are usually less iconic.
Law firm logos tend to be conservative. They use traditional typefaces and are often monochromatic. They also rely heavily on gavel, scales of justice and Greek columns.
Law firm logos seem to offer very little brand differentiation. Your firm can do better.
Here are a few pieces of advice:
1. Work with a Graphic Designer
Most lawyers don’t have the skills or time to make a logo. Your firm may have an idea of what your logo should be, but may not have the technical ability to bring it to life.
A graphic designer can create a high-quality, custom logo with your brand in mind.
2. Do Market Research
When you do market research, don’t just look at law firm logos. Instead, study other markets. Create a file of logos that speak to your firm.
Then, consider WHY these logos are successful? What message do they convey? Are they modern or traditional?
You also need other people’s opinions. If you are a partner at a 25-member firm, do NOT include them all in the design process. Instead, ask a small group to give input into the logo design. If you cannot agree on a logo, get help from your graphic designer or a marketing consultant.
3. Choose a Simple Logo
Most iconic logos are simple and elegant. They usually have one to three colors. This makes them easy to recognize.
Color consistency increases brand recognition by 80%, according to a 2007 University of Loyola, Maryland study. But, color also evokes emotion and can help define your brand.
The Psychology of Color
We associate colors with both positive and negative feelings. Think about your law firm’s brand and culture. What emotions do you want to express in your branding? Ferocity? Trust? Optimism?
Now, select colors that evoke these feelings. Most Americans link these colors to the following feelings:
- Red: Power, aggression, passion and strength
- Blue: Security, dignity and trust
- Green: Wealthy, fresh and youthful
- Yellow: Positive, energetic and warm
- Gold: Historic, traditional and valuable
- Grey: Conservative, responsible and serious
- Pink: Feminine, playful and youthful
- Purple: Sophisticated, creative and royal
- White: Truthful and pure
- Black: Serious, elegant, and bold
- Orange: Cheerful, optimistic and exuberant
You also want to select colors that are complementary and easy to read.
Again, a graphic designer or marketing consultant can help you select a color palette.
Sometimes, law firm images and photography seem like an afterthought. Too often, law firm websites rely on cliché stock photography and poor quality profile photos. But, images are an important part of your firm’s branding strategy.
The images on your website (and other marketing materials) should align with your law firm brand and client base. Before you select a stock photo, ask these questions:
- What does the image say about my clients?
- Does the image reflect our culture and values?
- Is the image consistent with the rest of our marketing materials?
- Are my competitors using the image?
You should choose images that are unique and directly relate to your brand identity.
Just like color, images can express emotion. Consider the message you are trying to convey with an image. And, consider how that emotion relates to your brand.
Similarly, attorney profile pictures should be high quality and consistent. A poorly lit, low-resolution image will not positively advance your brand identity. It is worth the time and money to hire a professional photographer.
The Need for Consistency
Law firms should use graphic design elements consistently throughout their marketing. Your social media feeds, print materials and website should share common design elements.
Along with logos and color, consistent use of font, images and taglines help define a brand. Your law firm should provide clients with a consistent message and visual aesthetic. This consistency will help your clients understand your firm culture and identity.
Within a law firm, there may be many brands. You have the firm brand that represents the entire organization. There are also lawyer or personal brands. It can be a challenge to balance these brands.
A brand does not describe WHAT you do. Instead, a brand highlights WHY and HOW you serve your clients. Legal branding differentiates lawyers and law firms from each other by highlighting differences in culture and outlook.
What is a Law Firm Brand?
A law firm’s brand covers the entire organization. It is the public image and identity of the firm. This brand reflects the values and culture of the law firm.
A law firm brand is expressed through graphic design, including colors, logos and formatting. A firm’s branded content also has a consistent voice and message.
What is a Personal Brand?
Many lawyers have their own personal brand. A personal brand is built on the lawyer’s (rather than the law firm’s) personality and reputation.
This brand can be based on a variety of factors, including:
- Community and political involvement
- A dedicated personal client base
- Involvement in high-profile litigation
- Leadership roles in professional organizations.
Personal brands are valuable to both the lawyer and the law firm.
Unfortunately, personal brands are portable and can cause conflict. If a lawyer leaves a firm, his brand goes with him. Or, a lawyer’s brand may diverge from the firm’s message and identity.
How to Use Law Firm and Personal Brands
Sometimes clients hire the lawyer, not the law firm. (And, vice versa.) Your marketing strategy should accommodate both law firm and personal brands.
A lawyer’s brand can seem bigger than the law firm’s brand. This can happen when the personal brand covers:
- An iconic founding partner
- A recognized rainmaker
- A public figure, such as a politician or philanthropist.
Your lawyers are not the same and they bring different strengths to your firm. You can highlight these by allowing internal differentiation. Allow for flexibility within the firm’s brand.
Personal Brands and Legal Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are subsets of your client base. They have different goals, perspectives and needs. (For more information, see our article on buyer personas.) Your law firm can appeal to different buyer personas through personal brands.
Consider these two buyer personas:
- John (age 30) was in a car accident. He was a software engineer at a large company, but he is now off on medical leave. John is married with two kids. He suffers from depression. The thought of litigation is overwhelming.
- Marta (age 45) lost her husband in a car accident. Another driver was at fault. She is a trauma nurse and is taking time off to grieve. Marta is angry. She expects a large settlement for her pain and suffering.
While a good lawyer could represent both clients, John and Marta may be drawn to different personal brands. John may choose an attorney who seems patient and compassionate. Marta may want the brashest rainmaker she can find.
Using Blogs and Social Media to Build Personal Brands
Lawyers can build their personal brands through blogs and social media. Blog posts and social media can give clients insight into a lawyer’s personality and legal perspective. A regularly updated blog or feed also can build trust with potential clients.
But, a lawyer’s blog or social media feed must still follow the firm brand. A lawyer’s content should not conflict the firm’s brand and must stay professional. You should also use consistent design elements (color, photographs and logos).
Your law firm may want to create social media guidelines or a digital code of conduct. Remind your lawyers that social media posts and blogs must meet your state bar’s ethical standards. (For more information, see our article on law firms and social media.)
How to Fix Conflicting Brands
When you have big personalities (and therefore big brands), conflict is bound to happen. A lawyer may use his own photographs and colors scheme, or refuse to use a firm logo.
As a lawyer, you are trained in dispute resolution. Use those skills! Many times, compromises can be made. But, if you cannot agree, it may be time to hire a branding consultant.
It is possible that the law firm (or the personal brand) is overly defined and rigid. A branding professional can help you re-brand the lawyer or firm, allowing both brands to flourish.
Unfortunately, they don’t teach marketing concepts at law school. Lawyers enter the workforce knowing how to write a brief, argue a case and negotiate a settlement. But, few lawyers understand the fundamentals of marketing.
At Altitude Branding, we want to change this.
The Legal Buyer’s Journey
Marketers often compare the sales process to a journey. A buyer’s journey includes three stages:
This process can also be compared to a funnel. At the top, you have many potential buyers. As the funnel narrows, the population drops (until you are only left with clients).
While lawyers sell services, rather than material goods, the analogy still applies.
Clients start the buying process when they notice a problem. At the Awareness stage, the buyer is looking for information, not a solution or service.
In the legal field, the Awareness stage begins when someone notices a problem or opportunity. Some examples could include:
- John has a sore back and searches for information about back pain.
- Marta wants to become more active in philanthropy and looks online for options.
At this stage, the buyers are not specifically looking for legal help. They are just searching for general information.
If you try to sell legal services to someone at the Awareness stage, you may appear too pushy. Instead, a law firm can engage a buyer at this stage by offering neutral information.
- John may be interested in a webpage discussing the causes of back pain.
- Marta may appreciate a blog post about a successful philanthropist or top-rated charities.
A prospective client enters the Consideration phase when they have defined their need and are looking for a solution. Our legal buyers now know they have a problem, but may not realize they need a lawyer.
In our examples:
- John now believes his back pain is work-related.
- Marta decides she wants to donate her estate to several charities.
Our buyers are ready to become leads or prospective clients.
At the Consideration stage, law firms should educate leads about their services and solutions. This is often the stage when a prospective client contacts a law firm.
Our prospective clients may appreciate:
- An E-book about workers’ compensation claims.
- A webinar about charitable trusts.
Appointments with people in the Consideration stage should focus on education, rather than selling services. Our prospective clients aren’t ready to hire a lawyer, but they are getting close!
Our prospective clients now realize that they need to hire a law firm. At the Decision stage, they will evaluate their options. They are going to “lawyer shop.”
When prospective clients shop for a lawyer, law firm branding becomes very important. Your marketing message should help a prospective client understand your firm’s culture and identity as much as your practice areas.
People hire law firms based a combination of technical expertise and emotional appeal. This will help differentiate your firm from the competition.
Technically, retention is not part of the buyer’s journey. But, client retention is vital to law firms. You want to keep your clients!
Marketing at the Retention phase should remind your clients of your value. Give legal updates, share success stories and ask for performance reviews.
Engaging Clients Throughout the Legal Buyer’s Journey
Clients may contact you at any stage of the buyer’s journey. Successful legal marketing has content appropriate for each stage of the journey.
You can create email campaigns, blogs, e-books and other content that appeal to a wide variety of buyers.
Your content should be targeted directly at your prospective clients. Legal marketers and branding experts often use buyer personas to understand client behaviors. Buyer personas are composites of a law firm’s client base. (For more information, read our article on buyer personas and legal marketing.)
The Importance of Legal Branding
Successful legal marketing builds trust and rapport. Clients choose a law firm for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons are tangible:
- Geographic location
- Practice areas
- Cost of legal services.
Other factors are less tangible:
- The law firm’s reputation
- A sense of competence or trustworthiness
Law firm branding helps clients understand your intangible value.
Your firm’s brand is more than the services you provide. Your brand is your identity, your motivation to practice law and your connection to the community. A law firm brand highlights the emotional aspects of your firm and differentiates you from your competitors.
A law firm mission statement may help in defining your brand. (For more information, see our article about mission statements.)
Successful marketing attracts clients and retains them. If you need help with developing a marketing or branding strategy, you should contact a legal marketing professional.
Branding is essential to a successful legal marketing campaign. Your brand explains your law firm’s value and attracts your ideal clients.
A law firm’s brand is its public identity and personality. A brand is not the services you offer. Instead, it describes how and why you provide these services.
When you are defining your law firm’s brand, a mission statement can be helpful.
How to Draft a Mission Statement
Think critically about what makes your law firm special. While your brand can include your practice areas, it must focus on the value your firm adds.
As a firm, brainstorm over the following questions:
- Why do you practice law?
- Why did you choose your area of expertise (criminal law, personal injury, etc.)?
- Why are you better than your competitors?
- Why do your clients love you?
Focus on what makes you exceptional. Don’t be afraid to dig deep and don’t be too humble. The more specific your responses, the more detailed a mission statement you will create.
Once you understand your mission or brand, turn it into a narrative. Infuse your content and design choices with your message. Explain why your practice and your clients matter deeply to your firm.
Why Create a Mission Statement?
A Mission Statement Helps Set You Apart From Other Law Firms
On the surface, law firms can be difficult to differentiate. But, a mission statement can help set your law firm apart from the competition. Your firm’s history, motivations and culture are unique. A mission statement should explain your culture and outlook to clients.
Generally, clients don’t care how big or old your law firm is. While they are interested in your practice areas and location, these characteristics rarely differentiate you from your competition. Culture sets you apart. Clients want a firm that matches their personality and goals.
For example, imagine two different business-related firms. One has a strong brand identity while the other does not. The non-branded firm’s phonebook ad announces:
“Our Community’s LLC Team. Founded in 1980. Free Consultation.”
A potential client sees that this firm helps with business creation, but not much else.
The branded firm’s website states:
“Our community thrives when small, local businesses are successful. We are a small business and experience the same challenges. We guide, educate and collaborate with our clients through every stage of a business’ life. Let’s build something together.”
The branded firm also boasts a business law blog and a client portal. Together, this firm gives prospective clients a better understanding of how it treats its clients and practices law.
A Mission Statement Educates Your Clients
When clients choose a law firm, there is an emotional component to their decision. Clients often choose lawyers because their early conversations built trust and rapport. A strong brand and marketing strategy can build trust even before the client contacts you.
An accurate mission statement is also the foundation for your clients’ expectations. Honest communication and accurate expectations are the key to strong attorney-client relationships. Don’t tell your clients you are compassionate and patient unless you really are. If you’re not disposed to long appointments with a lot of handholding, own it.
Mission Statements Can Guide Design Choices
As a law firm, you also don’t want a website or marketing campaign that looks like everyone else’s. Logos, images, and color choice all have emotional impact. Your visual elements should be as consistent with your mission or brand as your written content.
For example, people often connect colors with feelings. Red is associated with power while blue is often linked to peace or calmness. Together, Americans associate them with patriotism. What colors represent your law firm best? (For more information, see our article on visual branding.)
When you are developing print or digital materials, consider how your imagery reflects your brand or mission.
If you a struggling to brand your law firm, try creating a mission statement that expresses your firm’s individuality and value added. Marketing professionals can also help refine and build law firm brands.
Do you go to a movie or restaurant without checking its reviews? Thanks to social media, our purchases are often influenced by reviews and ratings. Today, reviews are an important part of legal marketing.
Hiring a lawyer is a big decision. Many potential clients rely on word-of-mouth and reviews to help with their decision. A happy client is a law firm’s best advertising.
Your law firm may be familiar with review-based websites like Martindale and Avvo. But, you can use client reviews in a more active way. Your clients’ opinions and experiences can be a powerful way to extend brand identity.
Reviews on Third-Party Sites
Sometimes, clients will voluntarily post a review. These reviews often appear on third-party sites like Facebook or Yelp. These reviews can be sporadic and unreliable.
Everyone loves a positive review! But, your client’s positive review may lack detail and marketing value. Which of these reviews do you prefer?
- “My lawyer was great!”
- “My lawyer kept fighting, even when things got tough. She always listened to me. I was surprised how quickly the other side settled! I have already sent friends to my law firm for help. Thank you.”
Both clients were happy with their lawyers. Clearly, the second review gives more information to potential clients. You can’t edit a client’s online review. But, you can encourage happy clients to post detailed online reviews.
If you receive negative reviews, write a prompt and empathetic response. Encourage the unhappy client to meet with you, and work to resolve the issue. While you cannot make everyone happy, prospective clients will notice your quick and courteous response.
How to Create a Client Questionnaire
You should also create your own client questionnaire. At the end of a case, send each client this questionnaire. Information from a client questionnaire can be used both internally and for marketing purposes.
A client questionnaire is simple to make, and should ask open-ended questions. Potential questions include:
- What did our law firm do best?
- How would you describe your relationship with your lawyer?
- How would you improve our law firm’s services?
- Would you hire our law firm again? Why?
- Would you refer friends and family to us?
- Would you like a free subscription to our email newsletter?
- Can we publish your review on our website?
If you want to publish reviews, you must get the client’s permission.
Client Reviews Can Show Strengths and Weaknesses
When you use a client questionnaire, you should analyze the responses, and look for trends.
Internally, these client reviews can be used to highlight a law firm’s strengths and weaknesses. If a staff member is providing exceptional service, it should be recognized and rewarded. Similarly, if clients regularly complain of communication delays (or other problems), you should improve your processes.
Your clients’ experience should always be consistent with your marketing message.
Client Reviews and Website Marketing
Again, a well-branded law firm’s reviews will reflect its mission or identity. You can use these reviews to extend your brand.
Prospective clients value reviews. If the reviews are consistent with the law firm’s message, they build trust. So, publish client reviews that express elements of your brand or mission.
For example: A personal injury firm prides itself in both its compassion and fierce representation. These characteristics are the pillars of its marketing message.
On its client review page, the firm has published these comments:
- “I always knew I could call my lawyer for help. The firm helped me through my darkest hour—and negotiated a great settlement!”
- “The insurance company couldn’t push my lawyer around. I was in good hands. He never stopped fighting for me.”
These client reviews match the law firm’s message—and are particularly persuasive because they come from clients.
A well-designed law firm website should include published client reviews. Give your prospective clients insight into your firm culture and mission through client reviews.