Five Quickfire Questions and Tips to Form Your Law Firm’s Branding Strategy
Over the last few years, we have seen more foreign law firms setting up offices on our shores. This has led to greater competition for law firms in terms of hiring employees and getting clients.
It is now critical for law firms to diversify service offerings and create flexible fee agreements to boost client retention. At the same time, firms need to have a strong focus on practice specialties to differentiate themselves. Not only that, as corporate companies are focused on internationalization as a key growth strategy for their businesses, legal work naturally becomes more cross-border in nature.
The time has come for law firms to take a more active approach in differentiating themselves and making themselves known through branding and marketing initiatives.
But what exactly is branding and marketing? A common misconception is that they are both the same. However, they are not. Here is a simple illustration of each term.
Branding is what comes to mind when people think of your company. It is what they expect from working with you, and it is what they tell others about you.
Marketing is the set of processes and tools that assist you in promoting your business. This could include online methods such as search engine optimization (“SEO”), social media management and traditional promotional methods such as print advertisements.
In order to get optimized business results, branding should precede any marketing efforts. Branding is not a push, but a pull. Here are five quickfire questions and tips for you to start planning your firm’s branding strategy.
1. Do you know your firm’s purpose?
The first thing you need to clarify is why you do what you do. Is there a specific problem you want to solve or a specific group of people that you want to help? This could be expanded further to your firm’s mission and the values that the firm stands by and wants to be known for. Defining a good set of values will serve as your firm’s guiding principles for work.
2. Do you know why your customers choose to work with you?
Many might not pay much attention into this, but these golden nuggets of information from your customers are valuable to help in validating your strengths and understanding the positioning that you have in your customers’ minds.
3. What do you want to communicate to both internal and external stakeholders?
Your integrity as a firm depends heavily on the culture that you cultivate. Happy employees are productive and cohesive, making your business stronger. Do invest time in having bonding sessions and establishing communication channels to update employees on your firm’s happenings or for employees to provide their feedback.
As for external stakeholders, do not try to be everything to everyone. Identify a target audience and find the single most important thing that they value.
4. How would my brand appeal to my audience?
First impressions do count. Imagine when you meet a potential client for the first time, the client will take into account how you introduce yourself and your firm. Your dressing and mannerisms would form a certain impression in his or her mind. Similarly, how your logo, brand colours and corporate stationery look will set the tone and personality of your brand and it can be used to evoke specific feelings in your audience.
5. How does my audience remember my brand?
Having brand consistency goes a long way in not only recruiting new clients but also building long lasting relationships with current clients. The copy on your firm’s website, the logo and visuals on your printed collaterals and even the office scent that greets your visitors should all be consistent.
Being consistent in communicating your firm’s values, visual identity and written identity will benefit your brand in:
- Creating the connection. The language and imagery of branding humanizes your firm and make it easier for potential clients to feel an association with your firm without having met you
- Making you memorable. People who hear and see the same messages delivered in the same tone from the same firm will remember, even subconsciously, who you are and what you stand for.
Do keep in mind that consistency has to be maintained across all touchpoints and platforms (online and offline).
Fortis Law Corporation is a medium-sized law firm in Singapore. Although the firm was growing its practice rapidly, it was lacking proper brand communications. Within the law firm and externally, there was no consensus on what the brand stood for.
Through comprehensive interviews and surveys, we uncovered previously unaddressed issues that employees had. We had a series of discussions with the management team and the firm’s plans were made more inclusive.
To close the gap between the management’s ideals and external perception, we identified a positioning that was aligned to the firm’s plans and also focused on the strengths of the law firm as a whole instead of just the founder himself. We also brought employees on board through further engagements, where they were updated on the business direction and the new brand identity and messages.
After Fortis Law completed its branding exercise, and within a year, the firm doubled its team, including several senior lawyers and middle management hires.
Branding is not a one-time thing that you do. It is an on-going effort that permeates your business goals, processes and culture. The measure of your branding success is in earning loyal customers who become your brand ambassadors, which rings true to this quote by Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, “Branding is what people say of you when you are not in the room.”