Law Firm Branding: Bringing Brand Identity to Life

If you made a list of all the brands you see in a day, you’d probably be surprised. Brands are everywhere. Your clothes, electronic devices, the apps on your phone, your car, the bus you take to work and the cup or mug that your coffee is in. These are all examples that currently surround me as I sit on my train heading into work.

Brand identities allow individuals to connect with your brand, recognize it and believe in it. It encompasses the visual elements of the brand. This includes items like the brand’s name and logo, typography, colors, and any design elements that help set the brand apart from competitors, especially in the minds of potential clients.

Some of the main elements included in a brand identity are:

Logo:

This is where your brand begins to physically take form. We start brainstorming and sketching ideas using all of the research that we have gathered in order to create a logo that reflects your brand image.

Color Palette:

Users connect with color. Specific colors evoke specific emotions, feelings and experiences. Choosing the right color palette for your brand is important. You want to make sure your brand exudes the correct impression to your audience.

Typography:

Similar to color, typography has meaning for your brand as it portrays the value and overall tone of your brand. There are millions of typefaces to choose from and each one can provide a specific mood. Typography also helps with brand recognition (think of Coca Cola or Disney.)

Brand/Style Guide:

This is where it all comes together. We will put all of your brand identity materials inside a brand/style guide that helps ensure consistency throughout any medium that your brand will touch.

Our Plan For Success

Our next and final step in this series is to outline the path we follow in order to help you and your new brand succeed.

By pulling each of the above elements together in a way that represents and reinforces your firm’s core skills and values, you can create a successful brand identity in the eyes of your prospects and clients.

Law Firm Branding: Crafting Your Brand Image

Think of your firm’s brand image as the person we want to bring to life. A brand image is crafted from doing research into your current market bases, potential markets, and internal perceptions. We craft the brand image following an intensive research phase. Not only do we want to study the market and users, but we also need to study the law firm and how their employees and clients view the firm’s strengths and weaknesses.

Below is an overview of our process and the steps involved in defining a firm’s brand image.

Research Phase

As a marketing company with the goal of branding a law firm, we have a lot of questions to answer. We want to base your law firm’s brand on actual data and analysis, not just a hunch. We need to dig deep and discover who the market is, where your law firm stands, and how we can engage with that market. What differentiates your firm from other law firms? Where is there opportunity? These are questions we need to answer in the research phase.

Market Research

We want to discover and then define the current community where your law firm is established. We also want to look at potential markets and how to expand your brand into these markets. We want to define and answer:

  • Who is the current market? What are their hobbies, interests, and overall demographics?
  • Who are your current clients? How do they perceive your law firm?
  • What are the needs and desires being considered when your services are sought out?

Company Research

After defining the market, we want to see where your law firm can position themselves for ultimate success. In order to do so, we need to discover who the current brand of the law firm is. This includes:

  • Identifying company values and goals.
  • Assessing internal strengths/weaknesses.
  • Comparing against your competitors.
  • Identifying where your firm can bring the most value for clients.

Unique Selling Proposition

Once the research is done, it’s time to bring together the analysis. We understand your market, your internal perception, and where the competitors stand. With this knowledge, we can define your law firm’s unique selling proposition. This is when we define what actually makes your firm different and how we can position the firm to your potential clients.

Brand Personality

It’s time to start bringing the brand to life! Based on the research, we need to determine the brand personality. This will reflect the brand’s messaging, identity, attitude, and overall how the brand will be perceived from here on out. We take our findings and then select the appropriate archetype that lines up with our completed research.

Selecting an Archetype

Archetypes were created by psychologist Carl Jung, and in marketing, we use them to define how we will create a deep connection between your law firm and its users.

Defining the Brand Image

This is where we tie each of the above items together. We’ve done the research and agreed on a brand personality that will reflect your law firm’s unique selling proposition. This brand image will be laid out in the first part of your branding book to use for marketing purposes. It will define your brand personality, tone, messaging, and brand essence.

Brand Essence

The brand essence is the heart of the brand. Based on the personality defined, it’s time to write out to the world who your law firm really is. We want a finalized version of what makes the brand beat. Here we write out the values, mission statement, and vision statement.

Brand Identity

Our next step is to visually create your brand based on the image we have developed. Once we’ve crafted the heart and soul of your firm, it’s time to bring it to life.

Law Firm Branding: Why Should Your Firm Rebrand

In an earlier blog post titled, “What Is Branding?” our team member Branden outlines what branding means. Unfortunately, many law firms struggle with branding. In many cases, law firms created a brand years ago and haven’t gotten around to revisiting it since. The result? A dated logo, website, marketing collateral and/or a brand image that doesn’t fit the current agency’s personality.  Either way, there are plenty of reasons to consider branding or rebranding your firm.

1. Are you are getting fewer leads than in the past?

2. Are you are entering a new market?

3. Are you introducing significant new services?

4. Has your firm’s growth slowed or stopped?

5. Have new competitors entered the marketplace?

6. Does your visual brand look tired compared to the competition?

7. Do you struggle to describe how your firm is different?

8. Are you losing a higher percentage of competitive bid situations than in the past?

9. Has your firm changed significantly since you last adjusted your brand?

10. Are you struggling to attract top talent?

11. Have your customers changed significantly?

12. Are you trying to figure out how to take your firm to the next level?

Branding your firm, whether you’re revisiting, repositioning or starting from scratch, is a challenge that many law firms will eventually face. With the right plan and process, your firm can benefit immensely with a brand that will reflect your law firm’s identity for years to come.

Also, be sure to check out our eBook, What is Branding? It explains the basics of branding, what our process looks like here at Mockingbird and why you should invest in branding your law firm.

 

Law Firm Branding: What is Branding?

We hear it all the time, “the word branding, but what does it mean? Is it the firm’s name? Is it a firm’s logo? Is it their advertisements? Is it their values posted on their website?” The answer to all of these questions is yes, but not individually. A successful law firm brand is your firm’s idea that is perceived by clients’ trust and experience. A successful brand has the brand image and identity in sync so that your law firm’s value and promise are reflected throughout the client experience.

Brand Image (Brand Essence, Personality) + Brand Identity = Brand.

Brand Image

The brand image can be divided into three parts.

First, establishing brand essence. Brand essence is the heart of your brand. What is your law firm values and vision? What promise will you keep to your clients? What personality will your firm have to help satisfy those customers’ needs and desires?

The second part of the brand image is value proposition. Understanding your clients and market are essential to establishing trust and differentiation.

The last section is brand personality. Based on the brand essence and value proposition, we can determine the best personality to bring the firm to life.

Brand Identity

After the brand image is established, your firm will want the brand identity to match. Brand identity includes but not limited to visuals like logos, colors, typography, and business cards that a law firm uses to connect with its audience visually.

Branding Goals

A successful brand needs to meet these seven goals:

  1. Emotions – What types of emotions do we want to establish with your clients?
  2. Desires – What desires will your firm satisfy for your clients?
  3. Differentiation – How can you stand out from other law firms?
  4. Trust – How can you establish trust in your law firm?
  5. Value – What are the core values of your firm? Do your clients share the same values?
  6. Connection – Law firms will want to connect with the outside world. How can your law firm share your clients’ emotions with the outside world?
  7. Belongingness – How can you connect and reflect your clients within your brand? You want your clients and community to feel like they are a part of your brand.

Successful Law Firm Branding Steps

  1. Your Law Firm Idea/Creation – What value will your law firm bring? What are your practice areas and goals?
    Your law firm will need to have a mission and vision statement created that will align with your firm’s purpose.
  2. Positioning – What position do you have in the market? Who are your competitors and what differentiates your firm from others?
  3. Personality – As what type of person do you want your brand to be perceived? What tone will messaging have? How will this personality satisfy the branding goals listed above?
  4. Idea of attractiveness – Brand Identity. Establishing your color palette, logo, typography, iconography, photography, and more. These visual identifiers of your brand will be synced with your positioning and personality.
  5. Communication – Rolling out the brand. How will your law firm connect to your clients and the world? Ads, websites, billboards, speaking engagements, and more are all ways for your law firm to communicate with the outside world.

Is Your Tagline as Creative as You Think it is?

Aggressive. Experienced. Cliché.

We at Mockingbird began to notice a trend in many firms’ taglines, namely, that they focus on the same overused, generalized words and phrases to describe their value to clients. I took a look at a random sample of 50 personal injury attorneys’ taglines across the country from Avvo’s directory, one from each state, and populated the word cloud* you see above.

It’s easy to see which words dominate the personal injury attorney tagline world. More than a quarter of the 50 taglines harp on their experience, 16% brag about how aggresive they will be, and 14% sing praises of the compensation they will earn for their clients. Sure, you’re aggressive in seeking justice for your clients. Sure, you have years of experience. But I shouldn’t be able to take your tagline and paste it into another law firm’s homepage and have it fit like a glove. Do you want potential clients to think you offer services identical to your competitors, approach situations the exact same way, and support them like every “run-of-the-mill” attorney?

No, you don’t.

So don’t use a slogan that makes you sounds just like the rest of them.

The whole point of having a tagline is to differentiate yourself from the competition, but when you sound just like everyone else you’re doing the opposite. What’s the solution?

  • Focus on what makes you different. Ask, “who are we and what makes us different from every other attorney we compete with?” This should be the first question you address when creating a tagline. Are you incredibly fast at responding to inquiries from potential clients? Do you take particular pride in the relationships you build or the settlements you have won? Then encapsulate that sentiment in a concise tagline.
  • Avoid clichés.
    When thinking about how to market yourself and your firm, stay away from broad generalizations. Choose wording and phrases that convey why you’re unique and in an exceptional position to give clients the legal support they need. A general rule of thumb is to shy away from adjectives. More often than not, they end up being too general and don’t convey the distinct advantage clients have to gain by choosing you. Lean more towards nouns and verbs to give your tagline energy and personality.
  • Remember that you’re speaking to real people.
    It goes without saying that whatever event happened that caused an individual to reach out to an attorney was a very trying situation. So think about what your potential clients are looking for. Put yourself in their shoes. They are seeking help. They are likely already under stress from having suffered a personal injury. And now they are looking at eight different firms that all promise aggression, high compensation, and are telling them how experienced they are. Speak to them with language that sets you apart and addresses the concerns and values THEY have.

If you believe that you are different and better positioned to help clients than your competitors, put words to it. Craft an original and honest tagline that sets you apart from the other firms your potential clients could be picking. Identify what you have to offer that is unique, and then don’t shy away from using that to market yourself. Don’t let your voice get drowned out in the crowd.

Need help crafting your own original and impactful tagline? Contact Mockingbird today to learn how we can help build a strong and successful brand for your law firm.

*Extraneous words (e.g. conjunctions such as “for,” “and,” “nor,” “or,” “yet,” and “so”) were removed before creation of the word cloud and similar words (e.g. “experienced” and “experience”) were categorized as the same.