There are 437,540 law firms in the USA¹. Personal injury alone accounts for 56,494 firms, with the industry employing 135,2212. That’s a lot of lawyers vying for business. How can you make your firm stand out in today’s competitive environment, so clients will want to choose you over your competitors? One way is to market yourself to the clients you want to attract. If you decide to engage in marketing, then the answer to standing out is simple: stand out for what you stand for. That is the essence of branding. But how you brand your firm and what that brand says about you is not that simple to achieve. It is well worth your effort and will pay off by making your firm stronger, nimbler, more self -aware and more recognizable in your community so you can attract the clients you want.
If you haven’t considered branding your law firm, let’s begin by understanding “What is a brand”?
Truth be told, you already have a brand, but it may not be the one you want. Just like nature abhors a vacuum, consumers’ minds abhor vacuums. If you don’t direct them towards thinking about your legal services and attorneys in the ways you want them to, they will think about you in the ways they have come to believe true. These impressions may range from, “I never heard of them, so how good can they be?”, to “ They charged my friend a lot of money for her divorce”, or “I saw their website and nothing stood out to me, so I don’t think they specialize in anything.” None of these statements may be accurate, but they can be repeated over and over again on social media, in reviews, and through word of mouth.
It’s your job, or the job of the branding professional you hire, to control the narrative by creating a brand that accurately reflects your firm and then raises your brand awareness to your target clients.
A brand, at its core, is one thing: It’s a promise you make to your clients that sets expectations for what your firm will do for them. If you keep your promise, your clients will continue to use your firm whenever they need legal counsel, recommend you on social media and to family and friends. Break your promise, and you may never see those clients again, and they may bad-mouth you on social media.
Thinking about a promise you can keep leads many firms to develop brand promises like, “We’ll fight for you” or “We get results.” While these statements may be factual, what law firm wouldn’t fight for you or wouldn’t claim they get results?
If you are a lawyer that tries cases in front of a jury, you know that jurors’ emotional reactions influence their assessment of the evidence. Similarly, potential clients react emotionally to your brand promise, which helps attract clients to your firm.
How you phrase your brand promise can be just as important as what you promise.
For example, a well-known Orlando-based national law firm, Morgan & Morgan, could have said, “We fight for you.” Instead, it chose three carefully crafted words, “For the People,” as their tag line to sum up their brand promise. It is the encapsulation of their promise to fight for the people, not the powerful. It stakes its claim to be the law firm that fights for the little guy and stands up to bullies of all shapes and sizes, including massive corporations and insurance companies.
Developing your brand promise is the most crucial aspect of creating your brand because everything else flows from that promise. So it’s worth spending the time to get it right.
When you think of your law firm, think about what you would tell someone if you could only say one thing about your practice. It could be about what your practice excels at or wants to excel at. It could be about your approach to treating clients that sets you apart. Now think about the emotions associated with what you chose. Articulating that sentiment is what creates a connection with a potential client and helps them remember you. Branding experts call it” brand recall.”
Let’s say, for example, your law firm specializes in family wealth and estate planning. Thinking about the emotions associated with your practice might lead you to develop a brand promise like this: “We promise to create family peace and harmony through estate plans that work.” Creating peace and harmony is an emotionally charged promise as a no-holds-barred family fight over an estate is a nightmare that clients count on their lawyers to prevent. Then, sum up your brand promise by creating a brand positioning line in a few words: “Partners in planning. Friends for life.” This is the brand promise of a respected Orlando wealth management and estate planning firm that embodies their philosophy of “working side by side with their clients to co-create their estate plans while enjoying a life-long relationship as friends and trusted advisors.”
In summary, to develop your brand promise:
- Define the unique and relevant attributes that your firm will always stand for.
- State your promise in a sentence beginning with” We promise to …”
- Once you’ve defined and written your brand promise, boil it down to as few emotionally charged words as possible that are meaningful to your clients. If it takes more than a few words, that’s OK. Getting it right is what counts.
Keep in mind, what is factual to you may evoke positive emotion in prospective clients. Case in point, another respected Orlando attorney bases his brand on how much money he wins for his clients. He has the testimonials and records to back up his claim, so his advertising is approved by the Florida bar. Attorney Dan Newlin’s brand promise simply states” he wins billions for clients” and backs it up with testimonials showing real people, real cases, and real results, including showing the amount of money won as part of each testimonial.
Once you’ve nailed your brand promise, consistently communicate these attributes to your target audience in ways that manage how your audience perceives your brand, such as on your website, social media, local radio and TV commercials, blog articles, and more. The key is for you to control the narrative, not those who might be disseminating misinformation.
If you are satisfied with your brand promise, you can develop a logo that reflects the brand. Your logo’s colors should also be used on your business cards, stationery, website, and collateral for brand continuity. Branding agencies that specialize in graphic design can help.
Defining your brand and promoting your firm based on your brand positioning is one step to establishing an emotional connection with new clients and creating confidence. What happens when clients interact with your firm should demonstrate your brand promise. If you want to convey that you care about your clients, create ways that will make them feel you care. From a friendly receptionist greeting your clients upon arrival at your office to providing convenient payment options, your brand is conveyed through each and every interaction your client has with your law firm. Only accepting paper checks can not only cause frustration, it can also cause clients to view your firm as being out-dated or out of touch. Consumers overwhelmingly prefer to pay with credit or debit cards or ACH payments.
Many forward-thinking law firms enhance their brands by accepting all major credit and debit cards as a payment option. It’s another way to display that you care about your clients by making it convenient for them to do business with your law firm. There are multiple other advantages to accepting credit card payments. You can set up automatic recurring payments for clients who have you on retainer or have a payment plan. Automatic receipts and streamlined bookkeeping and accounting further help provide your clients with a better experience.
Not all credit card processing companies are designed for the legal industry. It may be to your advantage to find a payment solution that will ensure your firm remains compliant with industry regulations, such as the requirement of having a separate trust and operating account. LexActum is an example of a reliable credit card processing company designed for the legal industry to ensure compliance. If you’re in the market for a merchant processor, want to change providers, or would like a free statement audit, call LexActum at 321-972-9838.