Law Firm Rebranding Ideas

There are a number of reasons why you may not be the premier law firm in your geographical area, and it has absolutely nothing to do with your legal prowess.

Your attorney group understands every aspect of the law, and the ever-changing precedents, codes, and procedures that come along with your profession. You are fantastic at what you do. Your firm has the credentials, the case studies, and the partners to prove that you are the best in the business. So why isn’t everyone using your firm for their legal needs?

There are a number of reasons why you may not be the premier law firm in your geographical area, and it has absolutely nothing to do with your legal prowess. Unbeknownst to you, the firm’s brand may be turning prospective clients away, simply through irrelevance. It becomes frustrating, because you may not be doing anything that particularly harms your brand. But you also may not be doing anything to help it either. The core issue is, something is lacking from point A, you being an attorney, to point B, clients not beating down your door to reap the benefits of your expertise. What’s the problem?

The good news is, you are trying to determine where the disconnect lay. Even if you are not marketing savvy, it isn’t hard to understand that your billings aren’t exactly causing your accounting department to clock overtime. If you look closer, you may determine the answer extends to your firm’s brand or lacking brand identity.

Determining whether your law firm is due for a rebranding campaign can be accomplished in a few short steps. But, first, you must understand exactly what a “Brand” is, and how it affects your business growth.

Understanding Your Current Brand

Think of your brand in terms of what other people see. Your logo and corporate materials, your website and advertising campaign, along with media placements and community involvement all encompass your firm’s brand.

What you don’t see is your brand equity, and it is a large part of your success. Brand equity is the commercial value that prospective clients derive from your name based solely on perception, rather than a personal experience. Simply put, brand equity is what people think of your firm based on your image alone, even though they haven’t had any interaction with it personally.

Brand equity is important because prospective clients may have a negative connotation of your firm based solely on your existing brand, and that affects your bottom line. Evaluating your brand in a few simple steps will allow you to determine how you are perceived by the public.

An honest evaluation should begin with a few short questions:

  • Is your brand recognizable by your logo and corporate identity alone?
  • Is the public aware of your brand, and what your firm offers, as a result?
  • Does your brand communicate and deliver value?
  • Does your brand allow you to expand your reach, without reintroducing your firm from scratch?

Individuals who search for an attorney already have a need: Legal representation. Your firm provides this service. Why should they choose you? Your brand should answer that question.

If your brand isn’t currently driving work through your office doors, rebranding can help change that. Rebranding provides the opportunity to refresh your look, remain relevant and create streamlined marketing efforts that will demand a presence in the industry.

Rebranding Ideas: Start with the Basics

TechTarget.com describes the rebranding process as “The creation of a new look and feel for an established product or company. The usual goal of rebranding is to influence a customer’s perception about a product or service or the company overall by revitalizing the brand and making it seem more modern and relevant to the customer’s needs.”

When you think of rebranding your firm, do not immediately jump to the conclusion that a new logo and tagline is going to make the difference in your billable hours. Rebranding should focus on communicating and delivering the values of your brand.

The need for rebranding can be the result of outside influences that cause the ineffectiveness of the current brand, or the result of growth, focus, and change.

Rebranding factors can include:

  • Repositioning the firm’s focus
  • Eliminating a negative image
  • Focusing on a new market/client profile
  • Introducing a new legal expertise
  • Losing/gaining a partner
  • Moving to a new location
  • Differentiating from competitors
  • Regaining lost market share
  • Staying relevant
  • Bettering your overall image (eliminating a poorly designed logo, or weak appearance)
  • Streamlining your overall identity and marketing efforts
  • Broadening appeal, or scope of services
  • Updating personality

Historically, law firms were exempt from marketing concentrations, allowing their attorneys to focus on their clients’ cases and the laws that applied to them. Twenty years ago, if someone needed an attorney, he or she would simply open the phone book, find a firm, and inquire within. Now, online communications, starting with each firm’s website, legal search applications, review sites, and social media outlets open the doors to finding a plethora of legal options with a few taps on the keyboard.

Add the explosion of the litigious spirit in the United States, and a highly competitive culture emerges with fury. This requires each firm’s brand to sell the expertise behind the partners and the logo, instead of waiting for the clients to come to you out of necessity. Studies show that 83% of individuals in need of an attorney use review sites to find a lawyer. What does your company profile offer at first glance? Does it reflect your entire brand, and deliver a committed, trustworthy appearance?

According to Vendasta, a marketing firm with a local concentration, the star rating is the number one factor used by prospective clients to judge a business. How many stars does your firm have on Yelp, Facebook or legal review sites? These ratings matter incredibly to your livelihood and the brand that travels with your public perception. It is time to find answers.

Your Current Brand Holds the Answers

Before you can rebrand your firm, you have to know why you are rebranding. The objective of the new brand is to create brand awareness in the community or regional areas where your firm focuses.

This awareness will create the security to which your other associations can attach, including spreading your marketing into new territories. If your brand is generating awareness in one zip code, it can spread easily to a new area thanks to word of mouth, concentrated marketing efforts and the equity that travels with it.

Once the community becomes familiar with your brand, it is up to your marketing efforts to create an attachment to your firm. This visibility will help your firm gain favorable consideration when they need legal representation.

How do you signal a commitment to the community, while expressing your firm’s allegiance to their legal needs? You rebrand.

Step One: Create Substance

The complication of remaining relevant in the legal industry takes work, and it is completely understandable that you – an attorney – do not have the time to do it. Remember when building a web presence provided the luxury of being found near and wide, with a single search? Those days are long gone, and every attorney reading this knows that to be true. The complication of remaining relevant in the legal industry takes work, and it is completely understandable that you – an attorney – do not have the time to do it.

Creating substance through renewed branding efforts signals to your target market that you take your work seriously, and you can be trusted to handle their case in the same significant light. Rebranding allows your firm to keep up in the community, and enjoy the one thing all firms require to be successful: Top of mind awareness. You want to be first. You want to be the go-to attorney in your legal focus. Rebranding can help accomplish that goal.

Creating Substance

A new logo does not create a new brand. A new website design does not create a new brand. A new brand enhances your clients’ experiences, and that is what you are accomplishing with a refreshed approach.

Before you can rebrand your existing firm, you must understand where you are failing as a brand now.

Failing brands can be attributed to:

  • Poorly designed logo and collateral
  • Lack of engagement in the community
  • Partners with differing outlooks
  • Scattered target markets
  • Inconsistent goals

Whether you are a two person team, or a one hundred person firm, everyone within your organization must be on board with your new branding initiatives. Giving the people what they want is not as easy as it sounds, but if everyone in your firm is “selling” something different, it is even more detrimental to your approach in creating substance behind the name.

Creating substance begins with:

  • Communicating information
  • Differentiating your position (from the competition)
  • Creating a reason to contact your firm
  • Developing positive attitudes towards the firm

This rebrand, the moment you begin discussing it, is all encompassing and includes a new outlook and new participation before the physical components of change even come into play.

Step Two: Create a Position

Positioning your company for rebranding includes building a clear proposal for identifying your target audience and how you are going to promote your services to meet their needs.

Take a close look at your competition to understand how your image and theirs are similar. Mid-market law firms often create homogenized looks that lack differentiation. If the public cannot tell the difference between your firm and one down the hall (street, or even a city over) from you, why should they choose you over your competitor?

Examining your brand against your competitor’s is a sobering experience, which is why everyone in the firm should be involved in understanding how important your actual position is in the community.

If you cannot distinguish the differentiating factors between you and the competition, you do not have a position to build from, and you must start there – now.

Next, create a promise that your brand will fulfill. In legal terms, you can’t promise to win a case “or get your money back!” However, there are significant approaches to “selling” a reason to believe in your position. Working on a contingency basis is a very popular approach in the legal industry, but it has also been adopted by most firms already – so you aren’t any different by offering the “If we don’t win, you don’t pay” approach.

Promises in character, customer service, and availability can deliver the difference between your firm and your competition. Evaluate your competition closely, and frequently. This will allow you to maintain effective positional promises that evolve with your firm, instead of working against your principles and meshing into the same offerings of the other firms nearby. This can be accomplished with a positioning statement.

Create a Positioning Statement

A positioning statement is a summation of your focus, and how your clients should perceive you. This statement delivers the totality of your integrity and promise to your clients, and is used for internal purposes.

Writing a positioning statement will take time, simply because you want it to fully reflect the following components:

  • Clear and concise difference between you and your competitors
  • Unique value of using your firm
  • Focus on past, present and future client satisfaction
  • Motivational and memorable
  • Consistent and easy to understand
  • Credible and believable
  • Effective marketing and branding copy

Once you craft a positioning statement that you can stand behind fully, honestly and effectively, you can move on to reflecting that statement in your firm’s behavior. This will be the statement that you, and your employees, begin the work day practicing.

Step Three: Practice What You Preach

Rebranding provides a fresh approach to company behaviors, policies, and administrations. While you are busy representing your clients in the courtroom, your office will be busy upholding your new commitment to quality, professionalism, and client focus.

These behaviors begin with the attitude of the person answering the phone and progress to the time it takes to return the message left from the call. It extends into every communication effort thereafter and is followed by a commitment to satisfy the client’s needs based on your new positioning statement.

Attorneys provide a service, which means the satisfaction level is dependent on the firm’s interaction with its clients. This achievement is now measured in the reviews the firm receives online, which is a marketing tool for future clients to explore. The connection between the attitude of your receptionist to the accuracy of your billing practices and the advice that is administered during consultations is the compilation of bottom line results.

This aggregate of components to your firm’s success only underscores the importance of everyone understanding the company’s position and putting it into practice successfully.

Step Four: Promoting Your New Image

A clear positioning statement and the positive approach in delivering it going forward will begin to change the culture of your firm for the better. It is time to position the appealing, relevant and committed approach to your physical marketing efforts. The consistency in your message and identity streamlines your marketing efforts.

These efforts can include:

  • Logo
  • Tagline
  • Position statement
  • Corporate colors
  • Corporate identification (Business cards, letterhead, envelopes, invoices)
  • Corporate collateral (Brochures, printed informational pieces)
  • Website
  • Images
  • Billboards
  • Online advertising
  • Directory listings
  • Correspondents (Email signatures, digital communications)
  • Social media platforms
  • Signage

The consistency in your brand will drive your commitment to the community, the law, and your clients’ personal cases home. Regulating these materials, whether in print or electronically, regularly is important and necessary to continue your commitment to rebranding properly.

These changes may begin with your positioning statement, but they should continue throughout your office. The corporate culture, including the office and employee appearances, requires the same review as your identity in print and online. Your firm is one business, with multiple moving parts. It cannot run like a well-oiled machine if you are only administering lubricant to some of its pieces.

Building Brand Equity

The equity involved in rebranding your firm is tangible. The attitude and commitment that goes along with your cultural overhaul, resulting from the top down changes for the better are too, even though you cannot put them in a box or weigh them physically. Rebranding isn’t just about changing. It’s about building a better brand than the one you had before.

If there is a magic formula for rebranding, whoever has it could be a billionaire upon releasing it. If we had to put it into an equation, care and quality control would be the top two elements behind the process. Rebranding your firm will take time, and should happen with both care and quality control in mind at all times. Stripping the paint off the walls will not change the attitudes around the office. Getting a new logo will not suddenly make your attorneys friendlier and exceptionally responsive. The majority of the changes rebranding will drive is 80% behind the scenes. They go completely unseen by the populace because they are cultural. These changes translate into trust, commitment, and quality, which develop client relationships that last.

BrandExtract declares, “It is important to have the entire team on board with a rebrand. The purpose must be clear, and the communication concise, otherwise you are wasting a lot of time, effort and money. Then, what’s it all for?”

This does not mean that your visual communications should not evolve with your rebranding efforts. Make a list of everything that has your logo on it, from email correspondences to signage and websites to directories and implement a plan to update the brand accordingly for each. This, too, will take time, and requires a focus from your external marketing partners.

Plan a meeting with each marketing representative that has a hand in your firm’s applications. Everyone from your designer to your online marketing group, and explain the cultural changes you are embarking on. These professionals will help you build a plan to create a consolidated and rational approach to rebranding your materials.

Developing Solutions, Galvanizing Commitment

Solutions take time but begin with clarity and focus. Creating a strategy to rebrand your firm will take work, but it will deliver results.

Start the process by meeting with your partners, office employees and even contract workings, where applicable. Talk to courtroom employees, marketing partners, and even community activists to understand what they think about when your company’s name is mentioned.

Honesty is not only the best policy, it is the only policy when it comes to rebranding. If you don’t know what’s broken, you certainly cannot fix it. Solicit real comments and concerns from your clients, partners and the public. You may not like what you hear, but you have to understand where you are falling short.

Before even thinking about making a design change, take the time to understand the following:

  • What do people think when they hear your name?
  • What are your strengths?
  • Who is your audience?
  • What is your legal expertise?
  • Can you deliver niche representation that sets you apart?

When you can answer those questions, or survey others to provide honest answers for you, you will be better equipped to take a rebranding approach that is successful.

Rebranding is the perfect approach to delivering consistent and streamlined marketing efforts that will end up in front of your target market. What works for one firm may not work for another, so concentrate on your practice and how to differentiate your appeal from the masses.

Creating a top of mind awareness in your community may take time, but it will allow your firm to evolve into a relevant source for legal representation for years to come. Do not wait until you absolutely have to accept the fact that your firm is not creating the business you need it to before getting started.

During his the twenty years as CEO of General Electric, the incredibly successful Jack Welch always said, “Change before you have to.” Get in front of your marketing efforts by making a commitment to be the best legal representation available in your community. These rebranding efforts will set you apart from your competitors, allowing your bottom line will develop with your growth.

It is time to take the bull by the horns and create a positive environment within your firm that everyone can get behind. Go call a meeting. Share this article with your office, and allow everyone to provide feedback on how you are going to proceed with a clear, concise and exceptional message that leads to rebranding your firm successfully. Now is the time. Let’s get started!