U.S. law firms were generally prohibited from marketing until 1977. That’s when a landmark Supreme Court decision made it clear that preventing lawyers from advertising was a violation of their free speech rights. In the 43 years since, law firm marketing has come a long way.
Today it is all about utilizing as many online sources as possible. Interestingly enough, the idea of online marketing has introduced branding to the legal industry. The question for many is whether or not branding is truly important to their marketing efforts. In a word, yes.
It might seem like branding and law practice are not compatible. But 50 years ago, law and advertising were deemed incompatible. We know how that turned out. The reality is that branding is a necessity throughout all of online marketing. It is not only compatible with law firm marketing; it is essential to do it.
Brand Equals Identity
One reason branding is not so widely accepted in the legal sector is that far too many people see it only as logos, color schemes, and taglines. Webtek, a Salt Lake City company that specializes in digital marketing for lawyers, says it is so much more. They say that branding is essentially an organization’s identity.
It is essential that law firms seek out partners who can provide SEO services. It is important to have a professionally designed website that looks good and performs well. But the benefits of digital marketing only reach their full potential when pursued within the arena of branding.
Take a personal injury law firm, for example. They specialize in defending the rights of accident victims. So their brand should in some way make it clear that they are champions of the little guy. Branding can take one of many angles depending on how the law firm wants to identify itself.
Branding and Value Proposition
A law firm’s identity is commensurate with its value proposition. In other words, what does a particular law firm have to offer above and beyond the competition? Why should someone in need of legal advice use that firm instead of another?
Marketing and SEO experts have long held that an organization’s value proposition should be targeted at that core audience known to produce the most paying customers. By way of illustration, imagine a law firm specializing in divorce. The firm’s attorneys further specialize in representing either men or women.
The value proposition portion of their branding would target that particular group with messaging designed to get their attention. Imagery and taglines would be combined with other branding elements to create productive marketing materials.
It was earlier stated that branding is not just logos, color schemes and taglines. Nonetheless, these elements are important to branding impression. They go a long way toward helping customers associate identity and value proposition with easily remembered images and phrases.
Coca-Cola is one of the most recognized brands in the world. In its more than 130 years of business, the company has embarked on dozens of memorable marketing campaigns. They all go back to the unmistakable Coca-Cola logo and color scheme.
One of their more recent campaigns proves the effectiveness of branding impression. It is the polar bear campaign that emerges every holiday season.
We all intrinsically know that polar bears do not drink Coke. We also know they don’t sit around on icebergs enjoying family life. Nonetheless, one can hardly see a picture of a polar bear roaming an ice cap without thinking of Coca-Cola. The company has done such a masterful job of marketing that they have made a lasting impression on how polar bears are perceived.
Branding Should Not Be Ignored
Any marketing expert will tell you how critical branding is. It is as critical to law firm marketing as any other form of marketing. When law firms ignore it, they are only selling themselves short. They are telling their local communities that they do not have an identity distinct enough to separate them from the competition.
Prior to 1977, law firms relied on business cards and referrals to drum up business. It was very difficult to make it as an upstart lawyer for that very reason. Small numbers of large law firms dominating the sector in most cities.
Law offers a more level playing field these days. That is partly due to the Supreme Court decision back in the 70s. But it is also partly due to digital marketing channels that give law firms of all sizes an equal chance of tapping the market. Doing it successfully involves making branding an integral part of digital marketing.