“Google it”. It even has its own verb - by ‘it’, I mean Google. When your company name becomes a verb, safe to say things are looking good. A few weeks ago, I was in London at the Google St Giles’s offices for a training event. Although the new Kings Cross space has been dominating the headlines lately, the St Giles High Street offices left a lasting impression. Multinational tech companies don’t come bigger, so expectations were accordingly big. Luckily it didn’t disappoint and weeks on … I’m still talking about it. Why? The Google brand: a perfect blend of personality and consistency! Every touch point reinforced or related to the Google brand in some way. By the time I left I felt more invested in and engaged with the company than I did when I had arrived that morning.
This blog discusses why law firms should invest in developing their brand identity (it’s not pointless navel gazing, honest).
With good brands, it’s all in the detail
The Google experience starts before you enter the building; a majestic monolith, clad in Team Google colours, can be seen way off in the distance. It’s vast, so could easily be impersonal or intimidating but they’ve tempered this by dressing it in happy, primary colours. What they’re saying, albeit non-verbally, is “Yes, we’re a huge corporation, in fact we dominate the internet and structure global intelligence, however … we’re also warm and friendly - come on in!”. Pretty clever when you think about it. The world’s largest internet company comes across more personable and welcoming than cold or clinical, and this is almost entirely due to the various ways in which it communicates itself. Mass media might bay for the next tax evasion scandal but it’s almost pointless; the company’s reputation is solid and strong.
From here on, brand Google is in everything: from the cheery professional staff who greet and escort you to the correct floor; to the branded cupcakes at lunch; to the red cube-shaped mic to facilitate audience questions during the course. Nothing you take in is the result of a decision arrived at in a “that’ll do” fashion. I’m not saying that the happy, cheery Google style of branding is appropriate for law firms but that the attention to detail, or a lack thereof, really matters. The impression given by the sum of well-considered details is a successful business with direction, purpose and longevity.
A brand consists of (but is not limited to)
- company values / traits
- staff etiquette
- on and offline marketing material
- colour palette
- visual identity
- verbal identity - tone & language
- style guidelines
- key messages
Your law firm - in just one sentence
A film producer we work on new video content with for our Curated clients has this rule of thumb: “try to sum up what you want the clip to say in one sentence and I’ll convey that in some way in every frame”.
Law firms should consider their customer journey and the various touch points (i.e. all client facing elements) in the same way. Sum up who you are, what you do and what you stand for and you’ve got the basis of your brand’s identity. Everything clients and prospective clients come into contact with, on and offline, should complement, reinforce and ultimately, communicate the brand and its values. Every detail should be fit for purpose. When telling a friend about the red foam cube mic*, she said “that is so Google!” – and that’s just it: Google only do things that are ‘so Google’. Do likewise for your firm. By understanding your brand, you then only make decisions in keeping with, and appropriate for, it. Only do things that are ‘you’.
*we wouldn’t advise this as a good move for law firms – quirky branding has its place!
But you’re not that kind of law firm? You should be!
We appreciate that not everyone has the time to conduct branding exercises. We also appreciate that the process of sitting down to ascertain what your brand traits are could seem self-indulgent or even shallow when the important business of fee earning is at hand. But people buy people and your brand identity is the personification of your firm. With the majority of legal instructions being event-driven, your firm has to establish a connection with its potential clients before they even need your legal services.
By drilling down into questions like who you are; what you do; what you stand for and how you want to be perceived, you’re unearthing the crux of the business. This knowledge forms the starting point for valuable in-house literature - brand and style guidelines - which in turn provide an organisational gauge to measure decisions against for ‘good fit’ purposes.
If you haven’t delved into the branding aspect of your business, all of this might seem laborious, tedious and possibly even totally unnecessary. Branding gets a bad wrap, this we know. The most common misconception is that it’s all warm, fuzzy, pretentious navel gazing, the exclusive domain of people who don’t take the business of making money seriously enough. That’s just not the case.
Branding, properly understood and executed, is anything but fluffy and pretentious. It denotes care, thought and attention to detail; attributes that surely all law firms must be seen to uphold (unless you’re this guy).
Specialist legal services (not to be confused with fast food, cars or coffee)
It’s hard to imagine a legal practice approaching their marketing and brand strategy in the same heavy-handed way as say Starbucks or KFC. The rapid consumer goods sphere is entirely different from the legal profession so there’s a serious need for law firms to go beyond the traditional approach to branding and demonstrate real value. This can be achieved through online efforts. In addition to a conversion focussed site with strong emphasis on UX, the contents of the site are a vehicle to show expertise. White papers, staff profile pages, case studies, sector specific publications and unique blog posts add gravitas to your firm’s online offering. Contact the team at Curated today for more about our bespoke legal web content services. The key aspects of law firm’s brand lie in its experience, expertise, unique personality and geographical location. Secondary to this, firms might want to consider whether they carve out a specialist or generalist brand, i.e. do you want to be reputed for offering criminal defence services or are you multi practice? Getting to the core of your firm’s brand identity will enable you to know what’s best.
To sum up …
Leveraged in the right way, a strong brand identity instils confidence in prospective customers and clients. Think about it. As discussed above, the brand’s sense of self – the who we are and what we do – should be of paramount importance to modern law firms. If you don’t have a sound understanding of who you are and what you do then why would you expect people to want to part with their money in order to instruct your allegedly ‘expert services’?