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When most people think about “branding,” the first thing that comes to mind is the visuals: logos, images, color schemes. But branding is much more than visual elements. It’s the connection a human being has to a product, service or even another person — and it’s the main factor influencing consumers to do business with that product, service or person. Essentially, branding is a huge reason why you give people money for stuff.
The most effective branding focuses on the psychological and esoteric components — the root level, where the synapses that create the mental connection between a thing and wanting to give up your money for that thing actually form.
Here are five things to get you thinking beyond the superficial, and more about branding on a deeper level for your law practice.
1. Branding is good for you. Love it or hate it, you need branding. Why? If you are a solo or part of a small firm, you need to be able to differentiate yourself from all the other lawyers who are just like you. Why should someone choose to hand over his hard-earned money to you instead of someone else? People need a reason to choose you. So give them one. And if you’re with a big-ish firm, guess what? You need branding, too. It’s just in this case, you need to use the branding of that big firm to your advantage! That firm is already a brand itself, most likely with its name, the genre of law, the caliber of lawyers (and clients) it hires, just to start. Those are the things that have built its reputation and define its values. If you don’t align yourself with some part of that brand, you’ll just blend in and you definitely won’t be operating at your potential.
2. It makes a human connection. With all the lawyer jokes, it is not surprising that there is dissociation with the idea of lawyers being humans with real feelings. But lawyers are people, too, of course! So when you think about your brand, put yourself in your clients’ shoes. If you were a client, what would you want? What would you look for in a lawyer? How would you be feeling about your situation? Sympathy and empathy can go a long way here because they affect how you treat clients and other lawyers … which creates your reputation and represents your values, which in turn have a direct effect on what your brand is all about.
3. It’s not “marketing and advertising.” Marketing and advertising may certainly be components of branding and help in the development and reach of the brand, but in a vacuum, they are not branding. Think about it like this: Branding is a pull mechanism while advertising and marketing are push mechanisms. Branding pulls people into something; advertising and marketing push out information. Good advertising and marketing campaigns will push out information or data about the brand, which, if successful, help tell the audience about the brand and why they should do business with the brand. But it is the brand itself that pulls people in for business. Once the ads and marketing push out the information, the relationship with the brand might strengthen or weaken. If it strengthens, the brand pulls people in.
4. Branding is everything. I always say, “Branding is the ribbon that runs through everything that you do.” It runs through all of the things you do in your legal business — including your work product and how you treat clients — and for your legal business: Your marketing and advertising campaigns, your writing, your logo, your images, your public speaking, the way you dress, the things you choose to blog about. Your brand ties everything together. Everything you do must reflect your brand.
5. It’s not as hard as you think. Many lawyers avoid branding because they don’t know where to start. With the right information and right tools, branding is not as hard as you think. Admittedly, it is probably more complex than you think, but that doesn’t make it hard, necessarily. Passion, personality and persuasion are the keys to branding.
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