Brand identity is something widely discussed in the marketing sphere, but isn’t always top-of-mind for those working in other industries. Law firms in particular have difficulty articulating their brand identity outside of a summation of their practice areas. But having a clear idea of your firm’s overall brand identity, and using that template to drive all of the firm’s marketing efforts, will result in a more powerful and cohesive message to potential new clients and referral sources.
WHAT IS BRAND IDENTITY?
A firm’s brand identity encompasses all of the components related to the firm’s image, including name, logo, Pantone colors, tagline, typeface, shape of the logo, and all of the visual elements associated with the firm. Most importantly, it’s the message the consumer receives from the visual elements that together identify and associate the firm in the consumer’s mind.
One of the first steps we take when working with a new law firm is assessing its brand identity. This includes gathering all previous print materials, digging into their online presence, assessing social media channels, and otherwise compiling all visual and digital content previously distributed by the firm. Many times a law firm has an internal image they believe they are projecting, but in reality it may not correlate to how the public sees them.
INCONSISTENCY IS MISTAKE #1
Visual cues are a huge part of any marketing strategy, primarily because of overwhelming reaction they receive from consumers. Part of that boils down to the fact that the part of the brain used to process visual images is significantly larger compared to the part used to process words. The use of imagery continues to rise, with 74% of social media marketers using visuals in their marketing – well over their use of blogs and even video.
Our brains subconsciously associate colors, shapes, and patterns with a brand. Anyone can tell you immediately the Starbucks logo is green, the Wal-Mart logo is blue, the Nike logo is a check mark, and the Target logo is a bulls-eye. We’ve associated these colors and shapes in our minds with the brands they represent, which is why consistency is so important. An old marketing adage states a prospect needs to hear or see a message at least seven times before they will take action. While seven may seem a bit high, repetition is certainly important in fixing a brand identity in a client’s mind. If that identity isn’t consistent, the harder it will be for the consumer to remember.
Circling back to our previous examples, the Starbucks green is always the exact same shade of green: Pantone 3425C. The aprons are this shade of green, their signs are this shade of green, and their logo is this shade of green. It never varies, regardless of the marketing medium. The same is true for Target: the bulls-eye is always, always, always red. The easiest way to ensure your firm has the same type of consistency is to create a set of brand standards for everyone to follow. This includes Pantone color selections for the firm’s logo and secondary or tertiary accent colors, typeface and/or specific fonts, and overall image style.
KEEP YOUR MESSAGE CLEAR
While many different elements can impact a brand identity, the three most important include image style, color, and typeface. Each of these elements sends a clear message to potential clients and should be thought about carefully.
- Images: Unless your firm specializes in criminal defense, most potential new clients in search of a lawyer will have never set foot inside of a courtroom. So why are images of gavels, courthouses, and scales of justice still so prominent in lawyer marketing? Instead of using something trite, when choosing imagery for your firm’s marketing, focus on potential clients. What experience have they been through that led them to you? Make sure it’s something they can relate to while clearly conveying your area of law and what makes your law firm different.
- Color: Think about the colors used by your firm. Different colors are subconsciously associated with different reactions or emotions. For instance, red captures attention while purple evokes royalty. Blue is the most commonly used color in corporate identity – which can make it a safe but overused color. Think about all of the law firms you know that use blue as the key color component of their logos – don’t you want to stand out?
- Typeface: Most everyday fonts fall into two categories: serif and sans serif. Serif fonts include a small line at the end of characters, like Times New Roman or Palatino. Sans serif fonts lack these lines or strokes, such as Helvetica or Arial. Serif fonts are generally considered more traditional, and the feelings most associated with serif typefaces include formal, confident, and established. Sans serif fonts, on the other hand, are considered more modern, with a look that is direct and precise. Make sure the typeface used in your firm’s brand identity matches the overall identity of the firm.
While these items may seem inconsequential, together they form a powerful representation of the law firm’s identity and should be taken seriously. Crafting a brand identity and setting brand standards for your law firm is crucial for overall marketing success. Find out how we can help develop your law firm’s brand identity today.