Put a Bird on It: Making Your Legal Imagery Soar
Put a bird on it. There is a reason that this phrase from the quirky Portland-based show has stuck around — well there are two reasons:
- By placing a bird image on clothing, bags, and otherwise utilitarian items, they became elevated to art, perceived as inviting and worth more. Short lesson: images matter.
- A once whimsical image that provided visual intrigue & lightness to mundane designs got overused. It is now a tired stereotype. It represents a lack of imagination and creativity. Short lesson: don’t put a bird on it…And let go of overused stock photography.
Why You Care
Images make ordinary things emotional, increase engagement, and can keep people on your content longer.
Hm…maybe I should have put that last bit in an image. Did you know that just by visually imagining a written word as an image, it increases the likelihood that someone will remember the word? Already we’ve got two reasons to include great images on our websites: faster connection, stronger connection. But there’s more.
Images pack powerful emotional and cognitive sway. Remember when you do the group cohesion tests to find out what kind of learner everyone is? Examples include auditory, kinesthetic…the list goes on. But guess what — big surprise here — pretty much everyone, is also a visual learner. One more reason that images are something to care about on your legal website.
Stock Images that Won’t Kill Your Spirit
So, you’ve decided, you will put some stock images on your website. Fair enough. Here are a couple of free resources: compilation of many free stock images, variety of local and other high-res photos. We just ask, if you can, don’t put a bird on it…unless your business name is Mockingbird Marketing, then you should certainly put a bird on it. Really though, as you make decisions about what defines your firm and what makes sense for your branding, one easy rule is this: steer clear of legal images that haven’t had a rest since pretty much the beginning of law. See below for a solid, though not comprehensive, list.
Spare Yourself these Top 7
- Scales of justice
- European judge (unless you practice in Europe)
- Statue of Lady Justice
- Piles and piles of law books
- American flag laid over any of the previous items
Here’s a quick tip: Google “law firm.” Select Images. Anything you find here is very, very tired. Be polite, let it rest.
You Are Above the Gavel
Think of your firm and your firm’s photos as a personal calling card. They represent who you are, your brand, and if you can give people the extra edge to associate your firm or your photos with your firm, then you are one step closer to a phone call. Visuals are a huge part of how we tell our story and how we initially engage with people. It’s often our first impression beyond a Google Search. So, if you have the budget, one better than selecting compelling stock photos is to have attorney and firm photos taken by a professional photographer.
Think about what defines your law firm. What differentiates you? And not just what is interesting to you; flip that around. What will potential clients find important? What about your firm will be of value to them?
For example, say you think your law firm culture — relaxed, Hawaiian shirt Friday — is quite delightful and unique. I agree, go for it. BUT before you publish your luau Friday firm look to the website, consider this: why does a potential client care? Unless you can share (visually, written, etc.) how your hang loose Hawaiian look benefits the client, then keep it internal. Because worst case scenario here, it can come across as self-absorbed and inward-thinking.
From Selfie to Self-Assured
So we’ve just compiled a list of things to avoid. Let’s shift gears to things that work. Again, great law firm photos can help bring to life your qualities, value, philosophy, and story. They can give you an edge on how you are different from other law firms.
After launching over 500 legal websites, I have seen a wide array of law firm photos: the good, the bad and the ugly. From blurry head-shots, to poorly green-screened firm photos, to selfies in a courthouse bathroom, it’s all been done. And it all gets posted to the website.
Instead, take the time to hire a local photographer. Have staff prepared for the photoshoot and strategize beforehand with the photographer so that you know what you are going to get out of it.
Scout out locations in and around your office that are interesting. Are there major landmarks that people will recognize? Is there a good view near your location? Some of the best firm photos for websites are action photos. It doesn’t have to be rocket science. Just try to get everyone walking, speaking, and moving like great, engaging, caring humans do. Great law firm photos can tell a story and it is your job to make sure that story is worth telling.