Independent Thinking: Branding a Solo or Small Firm

April 17, 2012

Small Law: Independent Thinking

As the legal industry has gone through seismic shifts in the past four years, more and more attorneys are finding that they not only need to be good lawyers, but also have to become better at finding and retaining good clients. I have lost count of how many times I have heard people insist that lawyers need to begin “branding” themselves in order to thrive in our new environment. Many people, however, misconstrue what branding actually means and how easy it can be to incorporate it into your daily life at your firm.

What is Branding?

The American Marketing Association defines branding as “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers”.

Your brand is not your product or services, it is not advertising, or marketing, but it can, and should, be found in all of those things. In essence, your brand is your firm’s unique personality.

Discovering Your Brand

At its most basic, developing a brand is easy.  It just requires some honesty and some research.

As attorneys, the product we are selling is legal services.  As much as we like to think of our services and skills as unique, they are not.  Fortunately, you have one asset none or your competitors has:  you. Your law firm’s unique brand is you. So start selling yourself. But don’t sell just any you, sell the best you.

A good brand is sincere and emotional.  This means the best way to brand yourself is to emphasize your natural strengths.  It means that you should emphasis feelings and how you work with clients, rather than your qualifications and degrees.

If you have a couple of clients that you work really well with, take them out to coffee. First, tell them that for the entire conversation, they can be brutally honest, and, no matter what they do, they won’t hurt your feelings. Then have a conversation about you.  Ask them why they work with you.  What do they feel when they work with you? What do they feel you do well?

As you talk to more clients, you will usually start to hear the same types of things.  Do your clients say you make them feel secure and comfortable; or do they hire you because they appreciate the fact that you can be a pit bull? You’ll start to get an idea of what your strengths are that you should emphasize.

Creating Your Brand

Once you know the positive feelings and values that are unique to you, express them in everything you do. This is how you build your brand. Set up ways to express these feelings every time you are doing anything related to your firm. Live your brand as you would a lifestyle of what makes you and your firm unique.

Once you have developed your brand, start building brand awareness. Brand awareness is developed through marketing, advertising, and networking. Whether it is developing a logo, creating Google ads, or any other form of marketing, your brand, should guide everything you do.

The process of developing your brand is never done. Good companies, and good firms, constantly strive to improve it. The good news is, if yours is a good brand that reflects who you are and what you do best, this becomes easier and more effective over time. It is a long process, but, in the end, you will have more and better client experiences because of it.


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