Law Firm Branding: How It Helps You Grow In A Down Economy

The recent economic crisis has had significant impact on the competitive environment for lawyers and law firms. Clients are more discretionary with their financial resources and a larger number of lawyers are competing for a smaller number of clients. 

To excel in a competitive market, lawyers and Law Firms need to separate themselves from the pack.

Successful firms differentiate themselves and leave a memorable impression in the minds of their prospective clients and referral sources. This is achieved through an effective law firm brand.

For many lawyers, the term law firm brand is synonymous with logos and tag lines, symbols that are an outcome of a brand but are not the brand.  An over reliance on a tag line, developed without a brand focus, can result in a generic, over used and undistinguishable message such as “experienced, caring and hard working law firm.”

Your law firm brand is your reputation and distinguishes you in the mind of your prospective clients and referral sources. A strong law firm brand will allow you to establish a significant and differentiated presence in your market that will attract desirable clients and referral sources.

Not creating a law firm brand can result in the following problems:

-       Other people will create your brand for you.

-       Your firm will not be distinguished in a competitive market

-       You will not attract clients who value what you do best

-       Marketing efforts will not be focused resulting in a lower ROI

-       Members of your firm may not be communicating a consistent message

-       Partners may be working on different strategies that drain resources and minimize results

Look at the above list. Do any of these themes sound familiar? If so, it may be time to take a step back from working in your business to working on your business. This will allow you to clarify who you are and what makes you unique so your target clients, employees and colleagues know what separates you from the pack.

Is Your Law Firm Advertising Helping to Attract your Best Clients?

In my last post I wrote about the importance of being relevant to the clients you want to attract to your practice. Relevance means evoking an emotional response from your prospective clients because they see themselves in your message,“This is me, this is how I feel.” Once prospective clients have an emotional connection with your message, there is a heightened interest in who you are and what you do.

If prospective clients don’t experience this emotional hook, chances are your message will not achieve its goal of attracting desirable clients to your practice.

You can be relevant to prospective clients by having clarity about the kind of clients you want to attract. Your message will be lost if you try be all things to all people. Alternatively, you will attract the right clients by knowing who your best clients are and  communicating what matters most to these clients.

Recently, I helped apply this strategy to Quaid and Quaid, a family law firm who wanted to separate themselves from their competitors in a special D Magazine advertorial on Dallas Divorce.

The firm wanted to appeal to clients who put a high value on minimizing the destruction of divorce. All the partners in the firm were trained in Collaborative Law and passionately believed in the value of helping clients to divorce as amicably as possible. 

The following is the D Magazine advertisement:

(For a larger view of ad, click on continued reading at the bottom of page)

The advertisement was unique for the following reasons:

1.    The ad featured an image of what prospective clients want to avoid versus a large photo of  lawyers. 

2.    The ad focused on the client’s goals and problems not the expertise and talent of the lawyers. 

 3.    The ad targeted a specific audience, clients who wanted to move into the future with integrity, versus targeting a general audience of clients who wanted a divorce.

Keep in mind while creating an ad or writing content for your web site that a client will connect with you at an emotional level when they believe you understand how to help them avoid their greatest fears or achieve their most desired goals.

Distinguish yourself in your market by focusing on the clients you want to attract to your practice.

How to avoid losing your cool to build client relationships

Last week the headlines about Hillary Clinton's visit to Africa included, Hillary Clinton loses cool at question on Bill: 'My husband is not the Secretary of State, I am'.
Hillary’s “rage” over a question asked by a Kinshasa university student overshadowed her entire Africa tour.

You can view the you tube video of Hillary's infamous reaction to the students question here.

As I watched the video of Hillary “losing her cool” which was repeated over and over on all the major news stations, I thought about how “losing your cool” can override good work and make a smart, sophisticated person look foolish.

I am reminded of a term coined by Daniel Golemen called Emotional Intelligence. Goleman defines emotional intelligence as “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves , for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships”

Mastering Emotional Intelligence is an essential skill in building and cultivating long term relationships with clients, colleagues and referral sources.

One of the elements of Emotional Intelligence is Self Control, this is the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses in check. The following are three actions to keep in mind to assist you in maintaining self control in a difficult situation:

  1. Manage impulsive feelings- Maintain an awareness of your emotions. Once you feel the urge to react negatively to a comment or situation, think about the goal you want to achieve and how your behavior will help (or hinder) you to achieve your goal.
     
  2. Respond calmly- Keep in mind that people respond better to a calm and thoughtful response. If you feel you are “losing your cool”, pause and visualize what you want to achieve before reacting in a disrespectful manner. If you have the opportunity, take a break and remove yourself from the situation before you respond.
     
  3. Become curious- As soon as you are certain that what you are hearing is wrong and upsets you. Seek to understand why the person is asking the question or making the statement.  Imagine how different the outcome would have been if Hillary would have asked for clarification from the student about the "Bill" question before she reacted.

Those who can monitor and control their internal feelings, impulses and resources possess a high level of emotional intelligent self-management skills.  In my experience, the lawyers and executives who have the ability to manage and control their emotions are also those who gain the most endorsement from clients, colleagues and their personal and professional network. By knowing how to manage disruptive emotions and stay calm in difficult situations, you will be perceived by others as more empathetic, intelligent and be someone who others want to spend time and do business with.