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Law Firm Branding Demystified

By Mike Kneffel, 2XL Company

Products are things made in a factory and can be easily duplicated, a successful brand is timeless and cannot be duplicated.

Branding is based on a clear view of how your clients and prospects perceive your firm. A successful brand is perceived to have at least one attribute that makes it unique compared to the competition.

For example, one of our clients likes to tell people that they have been in business since 1865. By itself, this is not a unique statement, a lot of law firms have been around that long. However, when they tell you that some of their clients have been with the firm for over 125 years, that is a meaningful point of difference because not many firms can make that boast.

The prerequisites to creating a brand are:

  • A knowledge of how you are currently perceived.
  • A knowledge of how accurate the current perception is.
  • A knowledge of the firm’s attributes that make you different and better than your competitors.
  • A brand positioning statement.

How you are currently perceived.
The most accurate way to identify how your clients and prospects perceive your firm is through a survey. Short e-mail surveys can be implemented, collected, and analyzed quickly. From the feedback, you will build a profile of your firm in the eyes of your clients and prospects. Another way to collect this feedback is to ask your clients and any prospects you may have approached. However, I will caution that “asking your clients” will take much longer and provide a smaller response base compared to a survey.

How accurate the current perception is.
With the profile of how you are perceived in hand, you can look inward to measure how accurate it is. We work with a law firm that was perceived as “old and stodgy.” This perception was based on the fact that the firm had many attorneys in their 70s who would not incorporate technology into their practice (some did not even use e-mail!) This perception was not entirely accurate as many of the older attorneys had retired, and the new attorneys were 35-50 years old and very tech-friendly. Also, the firm had invested heavily in technology across all departments. In this case, the firm employed a brand repositioning campaign that shifted how they were perceived to more accurately reflect their current situation.

Attributes that make you different and better.
A competitive analysis is required to identify what makes you different than your competitors. By studying the competition across all attributes you will identify advantages and disadvantages attached to your firm.

Brand positioning statement.
This is a paragraph that defines the way you want your brand to be perceived. It states what you are selling, who you are selling to, and why you are different and better than the competition. This paragraph will also serve as your firm’s 60-second elevator speech.

Many times, law firms do not look at their services as being “sold.” Believe me, the legal industry has evolved to the point where a solid sales pitch is a prerequisite to any firm’s growth.

When measuring the results of your branding campaign, you will not see overnight results. However, over time, you will see an increase in client activity and more positive responses from prospective clients.

Another benefit of a successful branding campaign is an increase in interest from like-minded attorneys looking to move their practice. The power of your brand perception extends outward to clients and prospects, as well as inward to the attorneys and support staff.

Furthermore, a successful law firm’s “brand image” will add significant value to the firm’s credentials before and after the sales presentation when words like “reputation” and “trust” are discussed.

Branding vs. Marketing.
Many times, the terms branding and marketing are used as if they are interchangeable. The difference is that branding helps you know what to say, and marketing provides the vehicles to deliver the messages.

Just like a politician will steer any question back to the handful of key campaign points, your brand positioning steers all advertising, website content, brochures, public relations, and face-to-face selling to your firm’s competitive advantages.

Branding analysis and strategic planning are very common in the legal industry today. A successful brand image enhances the value of everything and everyone it is associated with.

Many times, it is the brand image that is the difference between winning new business, and coming second.

It’s All About “Making the Phone Ring”
To learn more about this topic please email Mike Kneffel at mike@2XLcompany.com, or feel free to call him at 248-818-0007.

About the Author
Mike Kneffel is the founder of the 2XL Company, a full-service marketing company specializing in the legal industry. Mike began his marketing career at a global advertising agency where he provided strategic planning and direction for clients in the retail, service, and manufacturing industries. He leverages his experience and expertise in identifying and engaging prospects to help law firms and lawyers build their brands and create new streams of revenue.

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