Branding is a way of declaring who you are to the people that matter: your clients, your prospective clients, colleagues, judges, the community that you service, and the public. Here’s what you must know about branding for family lawyers.
By Martha Chan, Marketing and Branding Expert
Branding helps you attract the kind of clients and cases you want in your practice. Do you want complex divorce cases, high-asset or high-conflict clients, or collaborative cases? Do you want to attract men, women, or both? Military divorce cases? Custody cases?
4 Key Elements of Branding for Family Lawyers
1. Business Objectives and Marketing Positioning.
Branding is a way to accomplish your business objectives. Are you interested in growth? Changing your company’s direction? Securing more cases from the same kind of clientele – or expanding to include a wider range of cases? Branding must also address the marketing positioning of your firm, so you need to know exactly who your target audience is and what kinds of cases you want to attract.
2. What Sets Your Firm Apart?
Why should prospective clients choose your firm rather than another one? You have to differentiate yourself from other lawyers in such a way that your ideal client thinks that you’ll be their ideal lawyer.
3. Determine Your Main Message.
What is the primary message you want people to know about you or your firm? If they were to visit your website, can they tell within a matter of seconds what services you offer, whether your outlook and ethics are compatible, and why they should hire you? According to HubSpot.com, 55% of visitors spend fewer than 15 seconds on a website that doesn’t appeal to them. You must distill your main message down to a clear, concise statement so visitors can see – right away – whether or not your firm is right for them.
4. Manage Your Online Reputation.
Your branding is not limited to your own website or marketing materials: it includes everything that is available online, whether you like it or not. You may be a great family lawyer with a strong reputation among your peers, but online, you are your Google results. Have you performed an online reputation audit recently? If not, the simplest way to start is to Google your name and the name of your firm. If the results are unflattering, it is time to take control of your online reputation.
Branding for Family Lawyers: The Process
Step 1: Perform a SWOT Analysis
When you are branding yourself and your firm, you need to be aware of who your competitors are. Many of them may be colleagues who refer business to you – but some are also competitors who can take business away from you. Perform a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to help you determine what you, your team, and your practice might need to compete successfully for desirable clients and achieve your goals.
First, you need to be clear about what your business and personal goals are; then you need to do an honest review of yourself and your practice to determine how your current SWOT will impact your goals.
You also need to decide whether you are branding yourself or your company. If you are a sole practitioner, then your personal and corporate branding could be fairly similar. But if your firm has multiple attorneys, then you must establish your corporate branding first, and then, within that corporate brand, each attorney’s personal branding could be different.
Step 2: Marketing Positioning
Questions you need to answer regarding positioning your firm include:
- Who are your primary and secondary prospective clients?
- What is your unique value proposition (UVP)? Your UVP describes the benefits you offer clients, how you solve their problems, and what distinguishes you from the competition.
- What position do you own now – and what position do you want to own?
- Who will you be competing with?
- Can you match or surpass your competitors?
Step 3. Execution
Apply your answers from the above exercise when you’re creating or reviewing your marketing materials – including your logo, tagline, business card, the design of your website, advertisements, videos and brochure, the text that you use to describe your practice, and your image choices.
Many law firms do not have logos – and that’s a mistake because a good logo can say a lot about you. It can be ultra-modern or traditional, brightly colored or conservative, and it should be consistent with your marketing positioning.
Case Study: Successful Branding for Family Lawyers
Divorce Marketing Group recently worked on branding for an established law firm in Chicago. They handle high-net-worth divorce cases – including business owners and professionals – and they also handle custody cases. Their issue was that their brand did not accurately reflect who they were as lawyers or speak to their desired clientele. Some clients they thought should have retained them went to other law firms with fewer credentials, so they asked us to help them secure more high-net-worth cases.
First, we interviewed the partners to create a full and accurate picture of them and their ideal clients, worked with them on their UVP, and then devised a tagline that reflects who they are: “Family Lawyers Who Mean Business.” We also modified their logo and redesigned their business cards.
We changed the look and feel of their website – which included a new tagline and new photos that show them as strong, no-nonsense, and business-savvy lawyers. Because it only takes a prospective client seconds to decide whether a firm might be right for them, we highlighted their preferred clientele on the homepage.
We applied the same marketing approach to a magazine ad, their firm’s e-newsletter, and their business cards.
Martha Chan (MBA) is the V.P. of Marketing for Divorce Marketing Group. Prior to joining the company, she was the Director of Strategic Planning and Development at American Express, where she was responsible for their insurance portfolio, new product development, and the branding and marketing of four of their charge cards: Gold, Green, Company, and Corporate Cards. She has given marketing presentations at conferences attended by family lawyers and divorce financial analysts from across North America.