Law firm branding is a major key to success for modern practitioners. No matter how skilled you are in your niche, if potential clients do not know who you are and how your firm is different than the competition, your leads will be few and far between. By strategically using brand voice, you can build credibility, visibility, and a unique reputation that can act as the linchpin of a large, loyal client base.
Breaking Down Brand Voice
Brand voice is, in broad terms, the identity you use when interacting with clients. Anywhere that your firm communicates with potential clients, your brand voice should be loud and clear. If used correctly, brand voice establishes your professional identity and connects you with your desired client base.
There are four main pillars legal marketing professionals focus on when helping a law firm or solo attorney develop a brand voice. These include:
- Brand promise
- Tone and Writing Style
How your law firm interprets these pillars define the guiding principles of your brand and must remain consistent across your firm’s content. In addition, it is wise to know exactly who your audience is and how to shape their perceptions with each of these elements.
Unspoken promises run through every statement you make as a practitioner of law. Potential clients are looking for law firms that make and deliver on consistent promises. It is vital that your promises are realistic and represent a clear, factual expression of your law firm's value.
At its core, your brand promise is an overarching set of obligations that clients can know will be met when working with your law firm. This concept is closely connected to your Unique Value Position (UVP), which helps you differentiate your services from other attorneys and firms working in your specialty area. In both cases, you provide an outline of what clients can expect of you. Examples include:
- We promise that clients will feel valued
- We promise a professional working experience
- We promise an environment of honest and relatability
By understanding what potential clients want, you can directly address these needs in your brand promise. A promise that strikes at the heart of clients’ pain points helps your clients feel understood and seen.
The message of your firm is closely related to your brand promise and simply provides specific actions to meet your larger goals. The promise establishes what you will do, while your brand message illustrates how you will do it. Your message includes your company values and culture, your brand story, and your brand’s emotional appeal.
For example, if you are a divorce attorney and have an innovative way of navigating divorce proceedings, your clients should learn about it here. Do you focus on mediation? Is your specialty in amicable outcomes or aggressive protection of parental rights and asset control? Your message is the place where you can get into these details.
The “soft” offerings of your firm should also be considered. How fast you turn around phone calls, your ability for in-home or online visits, and flexible payment options can also be included as a vital part of your messaging. Your ability and intention to fill your clients’ needs is a vital part of what sells your law firm.
Still, not all messages are with words. Highly successful firms also develop their brand through messages of action. Philanthropic and charitable activity, sponsoring events, submitting to professional publications, and supporting relevant causes all send a clear signal about what is important to you and how you interact with the community at large.
Imagery is likely the part of brand voice that small firms are most familiar with. Brand imagery includes your color palette, logo, stock photos, headers, and more. These elements should all work together to make a lasting and consistent visual impression to your clients. Effective imagery will be memorable and compelling, creating an appealing online presence.
When developing your brand voice, consider the motivations of the potential clients who should be seeking you out. What kinds of images might connect with them emotionally? What is the overall impression that they should get every time they see a graphic associated with your brand? Then, make a list of all the places where this imagery should be used—from your website to your letterhead—and ensure that you are presenting a consistent visual voice in every communication.
The last aspect of your brand voice is your professional word choice. Your tone may vary depending on your audience, from knowledgeable everyman in social media posts to highly professional when communicating with your colleagues. An effective voice taps into both your client’s emotions and their rational needs.
A good grasp of voice will help you avoid coming across as unprofessional, stale, or inaccessible. It can also help give your firm a personality, one that resonates with clients. Building a style guide for your firm can help you maintain a consistent voice and guide written content so that every blog post, article, and social media update represents your firm effectively.
All law firms can make use of brand voice. Some firms may find working with a marketing team to be the most rewarding option, while other firms and solo practitioners may choose simply to brush up their current branding.
A consistent and effective brand voice can help you grow your client list, build your reputation, and develop a unified internal culture. By establishing a shared standard for your team and your clients, brand voice solidifies your services and client expectations, carving out a space for your firm in a competitive legal market.