Brand Strategy Isn’t Actually About You

This article was submitted by Dan Brian, the digital marketing director for a mid-size personal injury law firm in North Carolina. When not generating leads and signed cases for the firm, Dan runs Marketing for Justice, a membership group that offers digital marketing education for legal marketers.

Brand strategy has a certain mystique in marketing circles. For whatever reason, the concept of branding has always been somewhat hazy and undefined. What is a brand? Is it a logo? Is it your law firm’s story? I suppose all of those fit under the brand umbrella, but I think lawyers and legal marketers alike generally miss the boat when it comes to approaching brand strategy for law firms. In this post, I want to outline a new way to think about branding based on experiences I’ve had running Marketing for Justice, an online education program for legal marketers.

What Makes a “Brand,” Anyway? 

I would argue that at its most fundamental level, your firm’s brand is about how you treat your clients. Your brand isn’t really a thing — it’s a feeling. It’s not your logo, but rather how clients feel when they see your logo. You can spend thousands of dollars on a new logo, but it’s worth NOTHING if a client sees that logo and their reaction is “ugh.” If you’re serious about brand strategy for your firm, don’t waste your time or money on a new logo or style guide until you’ve taken a hard look at the service you provide your clients.

I’ll be very honest. When I started Marketing for Justice, I threw together a logo in about 10 minutes with Canva. It was sloppy and definitely not memorable. But did it matter? Not really. What mattered most was how our customers and potential customers felt about the interaction they had when they participated in a workshop, read a blog on our website, or received an email from me. Our brand is the customer’s experience. And nothing else matters if that experience sucks.

It’s All About Client Experience

Don’t get me wrong. Brand strategy is important, and it’s something that every managing partner and marketer should be thinking about (and talking to my friends at Spotlight Branding about). I certainly think it’s something that law firms should be investing in. But brand strategy isn’t simply a one-off audit, logo design, or style guide (though those are important, too). It’s all-encompassing and ongoing because at the end of the day it’s about the experience. Brand strategy should be laser-focused on the client. What do you want them to feel about your firm? 

Clients aren’t interested in logos, colors, or design consistency. And let me be clear — that doesn’t mean they don’t notice those things. It just means that they’re more interested in the experience. I’ve seen this firsthand while building my own business. Customers didn’t hold it against me that Marketing for Justice didn’t have the fanciest logo or the nicest website. They signed up and kept coming back because of the experience. I’m not saying I did everything right — I definitely didn’t. But I did try to make customers feel comfortable. That meant taking time to answer every email with a detailed, personal response. It meant taking notes during our online workshops and following up with participants to answer questions that may not have been addressed. And it meant doing other little things, like sending a free t-shirt to a new member for no reason other than just to say “thank you,” or “welcome.”

So Where Do We Start?

Brand strategy is important. A law firm needs to be intentional and consistent every time they put out content, launch a website, or send an email. But that attention to detail won’t matter if you’re not focused on the client experience. So if you’re thinking about brand strategy for your practice, start with the client. First, find out what they’re actually feeling. You can ask them for informal feedback or send out a survey. What do they think about the experience your firm is offering? And second, ask yourself what you want them to feel. If there’s a discrepancy between what your clients are feeling and what you’d like them to feel, you need to address that before you tackle brand strategy. Otherwise you’re just wasting time and money.

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Spotlight Branding is a content marketing and branding firm for lawyers and other professionals. Our goal is to help you create an online presence that positions you as a credible expert in your field, keeps you connected with your network in order to stay top of mind and increase referrals, and to become more visible online so prospects can find you!