Growing Law Firms Should Never Make These Common Branding Mistakes

Building a law firm for growth is no small feat. Yet so much of your firm’s success in a digitally connected world now depends on your brand. Would-be clients may know little about the cases you’ve won or the reputation you’ve earned. Instead, they rely on your brand and your marketing materials to learn about your firm.

The Worst Branding Mistakes a Growing Law Firm Can Make

So bad branding can translate into lost clients. Or it can mean getting the wrong clients–and dealing with the catastrophe of having either to work with them or fire them. With that in mind, here are the most common branding mistakes growing law firms make.

1. Lack of Cultural Competence

When you cater to people across multiple locations, especially internationally, a single site is rarely enough. Different cultures have different business norms, legal climates, and expectations of their lawyers. In an East Asian market, a focus on respect and an understanding of the role of shame is often key. So know your clients, and the cultures in which they live. Then consider building multiple websites targeted to their specific needs.

Cultural competence isn’t just about other cultures, though. We live in a changing world. The language that might have been acceptable a generation ago is no longer so today. Don’t assume the reader is male.

Avoid offensive language. Consider how different life experiences and social locations may color perceptions, and adjust your content and branding accordingly. You don’t have to like doing it. You don’t have to agree with your target client about everything. But if you can’t appeal to them, you will lose them.

2. A Focus That’s Too Local

For small local firms, photos in front of a famed bridge or repeated references to the hometown team can be a great marketing strategy.

When your focus is more global, these references fall flat. Clients are more interested in assessing your skill than measuring whether you’re like them. So ensure your images are consistent with a broader strategy, that your references are understandable no matter where a person lives, and that your branding does not create the impression that you cater primarily to clients in your area.

3. Generic or Bad Images

Your website and social media images are the first things most potential clients see. You have only a moment to make a first impression. Do you really want that first impression to be identical to every other law firm? Don’t choose stock photos, and don’t invest in images that are so generic that they might as well have come from anywhere.

It’s equally important for your images to convey a strong brand message, and to make clear that you have a global focus. So if you frequently work in Latin America or North Africa, your photos shouldn’t exclusively show white Americans. What do you want viewers to think when they see your images? Does your current crop of images accomplish that? If not, it’s time for an immediate change.

4. Inconsistent Branding or Messaging

Most large law firms practice in more than one niche. Many practice on both sides of an issue. A firm with an employment practice might sometimes represent insurance companies and also represent plaintiffs.

So it’s easy to end up with messaging that’s a hodgepodge of inconsistency. Don’t let this happen. If you talk about frivolous lawsuits on one post, consider how a plaintiff might feel reading that. Your branding should appeal to all of your target clients, and should display a consistent legal philosophy. The employment law firm might instead focus on the fight for justice, and emphasize that which side is the just side varies from case to case.

If that’s not possible because of the diverse range of cases you take on, consider creating several websites addressing each niche. This piecemeal approach is almost always superior to an inconsistent message.

5. No Marketing Analytics

Is your branding strategy working? Why? Who is your target client? What do they like? Which images appeal most to which groups? Which keywords bring in the best results? If you can’t easily answer these questions, then you’re essentially lighting money on fire. Don’t pay for marketing unless you have a way to assess whether and to what extent it works. This is the only way to tweak your message as necessary and ensure you’re presenting your firm in the best possible light.

6. Making it All About You

The era of bloggers and Pinterest and endless Instagram posts has turned everyone into their own personal brand. Law firms aren’t immune. Particularly if your firm is led by a group of charismatic partners, there’s a temptation to talk about yourselves. Sure, people might be impressed by the cases you’ve won or the education you’ve received. But what can you do for them?

You should not be at the center of this story. Clients want to know what your firm can do for them. So show them. It’s not enough to impress them with your personal credentials. Share your victories. Talk about legal strategy. Provide useful advice. No one cares about your vacation, and many won’t even care about your time on Law Review. Put yourself at the center of your law firm’s story at your peril.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Strong Brand

Potential clients want to believe in you. They want you to be the right choice. After all, no one likes searching for a lawyer–or handing their case over to someone they don’t trust. So make it easy for them. Present a consistent brand that clearly explains the value you offer. Need help? Gittings  is the legal branding and image expert. Let us show you how to stand out!

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