The law firm brand – is it important? Now, first things first, I’m blogging about it, so that probably means that yes, I think it’s important. And it is. In this context though, I’m talking less about physical branding – the logo, pantones etc. and about that classic phrase: “your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” (thank you, Jeff Bezos).
So what does your law firm brand have to do with legal PR? Everything, duh. When you engage in PR, you are often essentially paying to have your brand amplified to your target audiences, as identified by your key messages (what you want those target audiences to have in mind when they think about you – or indeed what they say about you – thanks again Mr B).
So your law firm brand is super-important, and also quite a slippery fish to grapple with. Here are some things to consider with regards to your law firm’s brand, which may lead you to consider whether there are steps you need to take to define, refine or significantly overhaul it.
1. You want people to say nice things about you when you aren’t there
- Many law firms rely upon referrals and word of mouth recommendations to generate new business. If people are saying negative things about you, this spells bad news for the future. Branding runs throughout every element of your business, so you need to work hard to try to understand what your law firm brand is, what it isn’t, and how you can ensure your team, surroundings, marketing and PR are all ‘on brand’.
Examples of where your brand says powerful things about you include:
The reception to your offices – is it clean, tidy, welcoming? Is your receptionist friendly?
Your toilets – genuinely. What does a 1970s avocado suite with scratchy loo roll, cheap hand soap and a damp smelly hand towel say about you?
Your staff and their manner – are they friendly, knowledgeable? Do they do what they say they will, and within any agreed time-frame?
Also your senior staff and partners if you have them? If you have any male, pale, stale dinosaurs lurking – what are they doing to your brand? This also cuts both ways so think about how all staff, young to nearing retirement, are representing your firm’s brand.
- We realise this is all REALLY OBVIOUS stuff. But the above are all things we that see far too often in real life (not generally with our clients though, it has to be said). Still, if you’re getting the basics right, well done and let’s move on to the slightly less obvious stuff…
2. You want people to send clients your way
- Linked but slightly different to point 1 – not only do you want people to say positive things about you, you also want them to actively recognise and refer potential clients to you. For boutique firms, this element of branding shouldn’t be a difficult one. The boutique nature of your work should speak for itself (along with your marketing strategy and PR of course) and people should understand what you do, and be able to refer excellent prospects your way. And if you aren’t driving these sorts of referrals – why is this? (Btw **shameless plug warning** we can obviously help you to answer this question.)
For high street firms, this may be a different story, and accordingly it is worthwhile having a think about what you are known for, and what you want to be known for; as these may be very different things. Again, if you’re firm isn’t getting a steady flow of referrals – why not?
3. Your brand doesn’t necessarily have to be positive (to everyone)
Some practitioners won’t want or indeed need a ‘positive’ brand. Some lawyers are simply ‘marmite’ and as long as they own that fact, they can certainly use the love:hate reaction they garner to their absolute benefit.
Examples of marmite people include Nigel Farage and Dominic Cummings, Tony Blair (and indeed Cherie Blair) and Judge Rinder (love or or hate him…)
These individuals tend to attract either super-fans, or real haters. For those leading a boutique, sole practitioners, or barristers for example, being a ‘marmite’ enables you to build a really strong brand, create a super-fan audience and often become very successful in the process.
It may be slightly trickier to work out where a ‘marmite’ employee fits alongside a firm’s brand and indeed whether the two can ever be truly compatible in the longer term.
4. You want to distinguish yourself
A lot of law firms say and do exactly the same as every other firm in the vicinity or their area of specialism. This means they can simply fade into the background as nobody really understands what they are about (or has any reason to care).
The firms that really stand out are those that know and understand where they are going, what they stand for, and what they want to be known for.
My advice is always try to be in the second group – don’t accept vanilla. But do understand that not everybody will like your brand, or buy into it. That’s ok – work out who your target audience is, and go and thrill it. Don’t be a people pleaser – be outstanding.
We are lucky enough to work with a number of rockstar law firms – they include; Latitude Law, Maguire Family Law, Hugh Jones Solicitors and Ratio Law . The leadership team in each of these firms know exactly what their business stands for, what it does, where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. And it shows!
In brief then – your law firm’s brand is very important and neglect it at your peril. By understanding and owning your brand, you can utilise it very powerfully to attract new business, and stand out from the crowd.
LexRex Communications is a specialist PR and communications consultancy serving the UK legal market. LexRex works with boutique law firms, challenger businesses and legal innovators across the UK.
Victoria Moffatt is the founder and managing director of LexRex Communications, and a former solicitor.
To find out more about our services, please visit: https://www.lexrexcommunications.com/
You can also contact us on 0161 393 6121 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org