What is a brand?When most people are asked to consider what a brand actually is, they’re thinking about company colour schemes, a catchy strapline, and instantly recognisable logos like McDonald’s golden arches or Lloyds’ black horse.
But however important these factors are, a brand is as much about substance as it is memorable stylistic choices. A way to define not just your company’s who and what, but also your why.
Take one of the most recognisable brands in the world: Apple. What does the business stand for? What does it value? What is it trying to achieve?
The answer is to ‘strive to bring the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals, and consumers around the world.’ Its products, services, website, and events are designed with that single mission in mind.
That’s the Apple brand.
It acts as a differentiator to other tech companies like Microsoft (‘empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more’) and Amazon (‘we aim to be Earth's most customer centric company’). So, where Microsoft’s brand champions the consumer, for Apple, the product is the brand.
It might be easy to see these examples with big companies that provide products, but legal firms who provide a service can still do so with a clear brand value in mind – why did you start your company? What gets you out of bed in the morning? What makes your day worthwhile? Chances are, those questions hold the key to your brand values.
Watch Simon Sinek's TED Talk explore 'How great leaders inspire action'
Review your existing ‘brand’Before creating a brand from scratch, start by looking at what you already have. Consider what works and what doesn’t. As a legal professional, there’s a good chance you’re focused on creating a sense of trust, credibility, and authority.
But are you doing it in a way that connects with clients?
When we spoke to users of The Law Superstore, many of them said they chose their lawyer because there was a human connection with them. That, essentially, is the brand substance. It’s this element that you’ll want to build on.
- Who you are
- Who you want to reach
- What you want to achieve
- Which needs you want to meet
- How you want to be perceived
It might be that a pattern emerges, and you can either double down and run with it, or take a step back and look at how you want to reach different types of clients.
Defining your ‘voice’If your company could speak, what would it sound like? You should be able to ‘hear’ a brand. For instance, Coca Cola might talk like your summer-y best friend, but Pepsi would absolutely sound like your cool teenage brother.
This is why understanding how your target audience talks is a major element of brand-building.
If you know how those users talk, you can set about creating a ‘tone of voice’ for your own firm, defining the way you speak to your through your website, social media, and other communications.
As a bonus, it also helps you optimise your websites for the search words and phrases your target market actually uses, helping to further boost your online presence.
Creating an authentic tone of voice should focus on the impression you wish to make. Because a large part of branding is emotion-based, ask yourself how you want your clients to feel about you.
All legal firms wish to be seen as trustworthy, able, and successful – but there are different ways of bringing that to the fore to create a clear difference between you and your competitors.
Do you want clients to see you as traditional or as trailblazers? A supportive, family friendly firm or a glossy and stylised business? Do you want to be the comforting, parental figure guiding them through their first home purchase? Do you want to be seen as the cut-throat firm who will go to bat for them, demanding they get what they deserve?
Your approach to your clients will often be replicated in your legal style. How do you approach a case, and how does that translate to how your business is viewed by customers? There’s no right or wrong answer, so long as the perception is authentic and matches the values of your potential clients.
Take the time to visit the websites of those in your industry and you’ll see that even firms within the same sphere choose very different approaches. Some law firms are supportive, others authoritative; some inspire confidence, others encourage outrage and a sense of injustice.
Very few ‘serious’ companies can get away with a playful tone, especially in the legal world, but if you were appealing to a younger demographic, it may work – life insurance providers deadhappy.com offer a good example of this.
If that company has done their audience research, they can feel assured that they’re ‘talking’ to clients in the manner they’d expect.
- Who does your brand sound like?
- How is that different from your rivals?
- What words would it use (and what words wouldn’t it use)?
- What emotions are you trying to provoke in your audience?
Understanding your audienceIt’s impossible to build a brand without knowing your audience. If you’re serious about building a brand, take the time to research your market – there are plenty of online tools and platforms to give you useful data.
In certain cases, this could mean shifting from your existing audience to capturing a new one. So, from a legal standpoint, you might be trying to move into (or place renewed focus on) a new service area.
Once you know who your audience is, you should meet them across the digital landscape. For instance, if they’re on Google searching for a comparison of legal services, your quotes on The Law Superstore are well-placed to reach them. Likewise, if you provide business legal services, it may help increase conversions with well-targeted LinkedIn ads.
- Who is your audience (or who would you like it to be)?
- Where are they based?
- What do they want?
- What do they need?
- What do they care about?
- How do they talk?
For many people coming to you, this will be their first experience with a legal expert.
Creating a great online impression
It’ll feel a bit like buying their first car. They wander, wide-eyed, onto the forecourt, knowing they need one, but unsure of what to check, what to look for, and what half the words they’re hearing mean.
A strong brand addresses these feelings long before you pick up the phone to chat about their case.
The first time most new leads ‘meet’ you will be through your website. This is the ‘face’ of your brand. This is where you can spend time on those all-important stylistic aspects – and know that it can take a lot of time to perfect designs that match your company’s brand and mission.
Not only should your website be well-designed – because today we all have certain high expectations – it should also be easy to navigate.
Today, customers have far more choice than ever before – and with sites like The Law Superstore, it’s even easier for them to find what they’re looking for. If a potential lead visits your site to find broken links and endless scrolling, how will they feel about you as a business? And how does that reflect on your brand?
Perhaps, more pertinently, will they continue to use you for future legal needs? Research suggests that new customer acquisition costs around five times more than retaining your existing clients. Yet, increasing customer retention rates increases profits between 25% and 95%.
The Law Superstore doesn’t charge for previous leads returning outside of the website – you’ve nurtured that lead, so you reap the benefit of their return custom.
Coupled with your website are your social media accounts. While you don’t have to post every day, leave it too long and you’ll create the impression of a company that’s inattentive, lethargic, or, worse, closed for business.
An update at least once week is good, offering a chance to strengthen your brand and display real authority. For instance, posting reliable news on a topic likely to be of interest to your clients.
If you’ve already signed up to The Law Superstore, don’t forget to add a brief bio and links to your site and any review sites. It gives leads the opportunity to get to know you in advance.
For more tips on building a better brand with The Law Superstore, have a chat with our legal sales managers, or visit your partner dashboard.