Law Firm Branding: How to Build a Strong Brand (With Examples)

law firm brandingWhat’s the first thing you think of when someone mentions Louis Vuitton?

High-quality, luxury, and stylish bags.

That’s the Louis Vuitton brand.

What’s your law firm’s brand? What do you want your clients to think of when your firm’s name is mentioned first?

With over a million law firms in the U.S., law firm branding is what will help your firm stand out from the rest.

Developing a brand doesn’t just happen. Successful firms make deliberate decisions and take a series of steps to build their brand because they know it will serve them well through thick and thin. It’s part of their overall law firm marketing strategy.

A strong brand helps you resonate and connect with the right type of client, which is essential if you want to grow your law firm.

Who do you want to attract and resonate with?

Here you’ll find everything you need to know about law firm branding, plus some tips on getting started with building a brand that stands out.

What is law firm branding?

Law firm branding involves more than just developing a law firm logo and designing a nice letterhead.

Brands are intangible. They help shape people’s perceptions of businesses and what they offer. In many ways, your brand is the “personality” of your firm.

Law firm branding refers to the process of creating and highlighting your law firm’s unique identity through messaging, visual elements, and marketing strategies, emphasizing a promise (or your unique selling point) that sets you apart.

What is Law Firm Branding

So, while a brand strategy may include redesigning the logo, it’s also much more. It’s what makes you different, your values, your unique selling points, and the impression you create with people.

A strong brand raises awareness by directly appealing to people’s needs and emotions and attracting potential clients to your firm.

A brand should answer the following questions:

  • Why should a client choose you over the hundreds of similar law firms in your area?
  • What makes your firm unique?
  • What values do you stand for in good times and bad?
  • How do you make your clients feel?

Is brand the same as reputation?

Your law firm’s brand and your reputation are closely related but aren’t quite the same.

Your firm’s reputation is usually formed from reviews, testimonials, and word-of-mouth referrals (i.e., the proof of your work for clients and the results you get).

Your brand is more than that. It communicates what clients can expect when they hire you, how they’ll be treated, what values will be on show, and what the client experience will be like. This is known as your “brand promise,” and it covers a wider scope than reputation — we go into that in more detail later.

Remember, it’s possible to have an excellent reputation as a lawyer among your peers but a lousy brand if you don’t look after your customer’s needs.

Why branding is more than a logo

Another confusing branding element for many law firms is where logos, color choices, design, and so on fit into the overall brand.

law firm logos

It’s easiest to explain this if we use the term “brand identity” for these visual and tangible elements of your branding.

Logos, website design, choice of color palette, and legal fonts help create your brand identity. This contributes to your brand by helping people recognize it. They are important tangibles, but these elements do not define your brand.

The story and message behind the brand identity (the intangibles) help define your brand. No logo can cover the cracks if there’s a lack of trust in your law firm.

Law firm branding versus personal branding

Whether you’re part of a large law firm or a solo attorney, branding matters on two levels:

  • Law firm branding: What does your firm promise your clients, and how does it shape perceptions about your firm?
  • Personal branding: What do you promise clients, and how do you shape perceptions about yourself as a lawyer?

Every lawyer employed in a law firm has a “personal brand” and is part of a larger story. That’s why, for instance, you should develop a personal LinkedIn profile even if your firm has a business profile on the platform — just like DWI defense attorney Trey Porter does.

Personal Lawyer Branding
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When you think of a service-based business, like a dentist’s office or a law firm, your mind immediately jumps to someone associated with that business. When someone recalls your firm and your attorney’s in the way, you want that feeling to be positive.

To create and develop a personal brand, you need to consider:

  • Your unique attributes
  • How you communicate these attributes consistently to your audience
  • How to manage how your audience perceives you

Why spend resources on lawyer branding?

As you already know, part of branding is to raise awareness of your firm and attract potential clients.

A consistent, trustworthy, communicative law firm naturally attracts potential clients.

That’s reason enough to consider branding as a key element of your law firm’s marketing strategy.

We see that a strong and consistent brand is good for business because:

  • It differentiates your firm: Branding helps you stand out from other attorneys and firms in your geographical and practice areas.
  • It builds connections: A strong brand helps you connect on an emotional level with potential clients when they are choosing who to hire.
  • It builds trust: Authentic, transparent, and client-focused law firms continuously build trust with clients and potential clients.
  • It grows loyalty: Clients will remain loyal to brands that share their values and provide a great user experience.
  • It provides marketing focus: A strong brand can guide marketing activities that support your values, purpose, goals, mission, etc.

How to create a powerful law firm brand

The law profession has a long history that tends to dictate many of the branding decisions made by law firms. However, like with every profession, there has been disruption of the norm in recent years.

Take this example from Parnall Law, a personal injury firm in New Mexico.

Personal Injury Law Firm Branding
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“Hurt? Call Bert” breaks the mold of the traditional boring approach adopted by many law firms. It won’t be for everyone, but it works for this firm.

Your branding choices are much more open now than in the past. The pressure to conform to legal stereotypes is lower.

Deciding to break out of the legal stereotypes could be a deliberate branding decision to appeal to a particular target audience.

Part of Irigonegaray, Turney & Revenaugh, LLP. firm’s branding positions itself as an LGBTQ-centric law firm in Topeka.

LGBTQ Law Firm Branding
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Despite some innovative branding approaches by progressive law firms, successful law firm brands seem to share some certain qualities. With this in mind, we suggest following these pointers to create a powerful law firm brand.

Be clear on your target audience

Marketing to “anyone who can pay the bills” is generally bad for business, as your marketing campaigns will be untargeted and expensive. You may be competing against other law firms who offer the same services, which is never a good thing.

Like with all marketing, it’s important to define your ideal client persona(s) first. Who do you want to provide legal services for?

law firm client persona

Once you know who your ideal clients are, you can develop branding aimed at attracting them.

Take the following example from personal injury firm Sinel & Olesen in New York City. There is a clear target audience in all messaging.

Law Firm Branding Target Clients
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Be as specific as possible with demographics, goals, challenges, pain points, budgets, etc. You may create several different personas — and that’s fine.

Everything from your website to your marketing campaigns and what your assistant says to potential clients when they call in can then follow the right messaging.

Be clear about your “why”

Why are you a lawyer? The answer to this question should form the foundation of your personal brand.

Why does your firm exist? The answer to this question should form the foundation of a law firm’s brand.

“To practice law” or “to make money” is not a good enough answer to either question. To develop a strong brand, your “why” or “mission” must go a lot deeper. It should act as a roadmap for everything that follows.

Your motivation for showing up every day at work is not just to make money — or you’d probably do something a lot easier than practicing law.

Here’s a good example from the immigration law firm Vrapi Weeks.

Law Firm Branding Mission
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Missions are not just for large corporate firms. A small family law attorney might say something like this:

“To provide families with the legal advice they need to resolve disputes and move on with their lives in the best possible shape.”

A criminal defense law firm might say this:

“To help those wrongly accused of a crime or who made an honest mistake avoid the harsh consequences of a criminal record and move on with their lives with hope for the future.”

Be clear on your vision

A vision statement is slightly different from a mission statement, as it’s more about where your firm aspires to go than your business objectives and how you will reach them.

The mission and vision for The Lynch Law Group in Pennsylvania read like this:

Law Firm Branding Vision
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Know and live your values

Values underpin the way your law firm works and presents itself. Once you’ve identified your “why,” you can set a series of values to help you achieve this purpose.

Examples for the family law firm described above might be:

  • Assist the local community
  • Provide excellent value for money
  • Educate and inform families
  • Think and act inclusively
  • Put customer needs before profit
  • Prioritize service
  • Communicate transparently and consistently

Assisting the local community is essential for Vogel LLP, a personal injury, family law and estate law firm in Calgary.

It even features a dedicated page to it on its website:

Law Firm Branding Values
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Setting values like this provides a guiding light for your law firm’s branding. If something doesn’t fit your values, it should probably be discarded.

Be consistent, authentic, and reliable

Trusting a firm that’s not consistent, authentic, or reliable isn’t easy. These qualities are typically a cornerstone of a firm’s brand.

Consistency of messaging and communication across your marketing channels is important for branding.

More “touch points” are needed than ever before to get messages through. If these messages are inconsistent, they will be discarded by your audience. Likewise, if you try to be something you’re not, the message will fail.

Consistency translates to feelings of trust, reliability, and security. When potential clients decide who to hire, they’ll remember these feelings.

Remember, purchasing decisions are often emotional decisions.

Be clear and authoritative with messaging

Clarity with your brand message is important for you as a lawyer and your firm.

Your messaging should be simple enough for your target audience to understand and retain but authoritative enough to show you can help. Don’t overcomplicate it, and avoid using legal jargon.

This is a clear message from criminal defense lawyer Adam D. Brown in Georgia.

Lawyer Branding Clear Message

Many people who hire lawyers are making life-changing decisions that they haven’t had to make before. You need to help them by keeping it as straightforward as possible. Be clear about what you offer and how you’re different.

Putting it all together

Once you know your mission, vision, and values, it’s time to put this all together in writing so that it guides your business: a brand statement that includes your unique value proposition.

Your value proposition is your unique promise to clients. It is a short statement (sometimes only a few words long) that communicates the following key information:

  • The services you offer
  • How they solve your clients’ needs, and
  • What makes you different from the competition

This will help shape your overall brand messaging and be central to how you interact with your clients, appearing on your marketing materials and inspiring potential clients to contact you. It applies whether you are a solo attorney or a firm of 20 lawyers.

When considering your value proposition, think about the following:

  • The services you provide
  • The needs and expectations of the people you serve
  • The pain points that your services solve
  • How you solve these more effectively than the competition

Corporate and business law firm McCarthy Tetrault LLP start with their value statement.

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These values are turned into a one-sentence statement highlighting what the firm stands for and its value proposition.

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In its statement, McCarthy Tetrault highlights the diversity of the firm, alongside a focus on innovation, making up two value propositions.

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Creating your law firm brand identity

Your brand identity covers the physical, tangible assets of your brand, such as the following:

  • The name of your firm
  • Logo
  • Color scheme
  • Typography and fonts
  • Marketing materials
  • Stationery such as letterheads and business cards
  • Images used

The type of language used in marketing copy and communications is also part of this.

Develop your brand visuals

Logo, color scheme, typography, and fonts are what most people think of when they consider “branding.” This is your brand identity.

Legal Solutions of New Mexico are creating a strong brand by being proud of doing things a little differently with their messaging and brand identity.

Law Firm Brand Identity
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We won’t spend too long on this, but it’s a good idea to have multiple versions of logos for use in different scenarios and to keep marketing materials fresh: an image-only version and one with a tagline is a safe bet.

Your logo and brand visuals are likely to be used in multiple places online and offline so they warrant considerable thought:

  • Your website
  • Social media profiles
  • Law firm directory profiles
  • Google Business Profile
  • PDFs/brochures
  • Other printed materials
  • Business cards
  • Letterheads
  • Office signage
  • Billboards

The color scheme is entirely up to you. While you may know that certain color combinations relay certain meanings, it ultimately comes down to personal choice and what looks most professional.

You need a clear visual presence online and offline, so if you don’t yet have a logo or want to re-launch your brand, work with a competent graphic designer or law firm brand specialist.

Develop your brand voice

The language used in your branding will determine your “brand voice.” Along with the message, it helps to communicate your unique personality.

We’ve already covered the importance of clarity to your branding — especially in the law profession, which deals with complex topics and a high potential for confusion.

It’s tough to grab attention in the legal industry. Many firms stick with the strictly formal and traditional approach. But there are exceptions.

As long as you’re consistent and you talk the language of your target audience, there’s no set rule as to the brand voice you should use in your materials and communications.

For instance, Amari Family Law in Ontario places a high stock on compassion and develops a warm and welcoming voice to attract clients going through difficult times.

Law Firm Branding Voice
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Compassion is not a key consideration for the technology law firm Scott & Scott LLP. As you would expect, the brand voice is completely different and designed to appeal to businesses — confident and assured:

Law Firm Branding Voice 2
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Building brand awareness takes time

Consistent branding efforts will grow awareness of your law firm. But it takes time. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Don’t expect instant results with branding. Consider it an investment now that can pay dividends in months and years, not days or weeks — but it can pay these dividends long into the future.

If you have done the foundation work for your brand and executed a coherent law firm marketing strategy, your brand should grow naturally with your marketing campaigns. Whether through website/search marketing, paid advertising like Google Ads, email marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, or another type of campaign.

For most solo attorneys and firms with limited resources, it’s a case of starting slow and relatively small scale, then building over time.

As you target clients, your brand should carry into all communications and campaigns.

Branding is worth your time and resources

Law firm (and individual attorney) branding should form the foundation of your overall marketing strategy. As you’ve seen, it doesn’t need to be complicated, and it’s not just for large corporate firms.

A little time and thought spent upfront on branding can serve you long into the future — it’s a small price to pay for the potential rewards.