Your firm has a great logo, a clear mission statement and a strong color scheme—so why doesn’t anyone know who you are? Spoiler alert: you might have invested too much in the brand and not enough in brand awareness.
Brand awareness is the key to producing memorable, relevant marketing experiences. However, many attorneys don’t invest in branding because they think they don’t need it—they already have a brand. Unfortunately, this harmful misunderstanding will sink your pretty ship before it even leaves the port. A nice coat of paint on your vessel doesn’t usually do much to help you on the open water, after all.
Here’s what lawyers need to know about brand vs. branding, internal and external branding, and why law firms need to invest in ongoing brand awareness.
A brand is not the same as branding – here’s why
A brand is your identity. It’s what clients perceive as the essence of who you are, what your firm provides and how you provide it.
Branding is the strategic effort behind shaping and maintaining a specific brand identity.
A brand is an identity and an orientation, but branding is how you originally define and continually communicate that essence to the world.
It goes beyond a tagline or a logo, too.
Branding is a comprehensive strategy that aligns your marketing and behaviors with your firm’s values and your unique offering. If you do a good job with your branding, your potential clients will understand (accurately) how you differ from your competitors.
Examples of branding and brand awareness
Ultimately, it’s all about integration.
Let’s examine Nike’s branding as an example.
Nike’s tagline is “Just Do It.” The company’s mission is to “bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. *If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Nike’s values are excellence, community, innovation and sustainability.
Nike is instantly recognizable for its tagline and iconic “swoop” logo—that’s Nike’s brand.
But Nike’s branding is far more extensive. The catchy logo is supported by programming, visuals, social media messaging and products that align with that narrative across every client touchpoint. From celebrating athlete achievements on Instagram to investing in social responsibility programs, Nike lives out its values in a visible way that goes beyond its visual and written marketing.
Nike’s brand awareness is very high because the company invests strongly in branding.
Take a look at your own firm’s brand.
Brand: What do you say you stand for? What do your visuals communicate? Do your answers align with reality?
Branding: How do you express your brand in an ongoing way, including visual, written and IRL (in real life) ways? Do you feel you’re successful or that you could be doing more?
Of course, the real insights will come from your clients and potential clients. Ask them! You may be surprised to hear what ideas they think your firm values and how you live out your values in practice.
Internal branding vs. external branding
Branding happens inside your firm as well as outside.
While external branding is the public-facing messaging and activities that communicate your brand, internal branding is how you enact that brand within your company culture by championing your brand’s values at work.
A harmonious interplay between internal and external branding is critical. Saying one thing but doing another will breed resentment and distrust among your team and among potential clients, too.
When you can align your firm’s external and internal branding, you’ll hit upon a powerful way to demonstrate consistency and reliability. It’s trickier said than done, but the right brand can lead the way.
Even if your firm has a brand, you definitely still need branding
Have a brand already? Great! But having a brand isn’t a finish line—it’s a foundation.
Ongoing branding is not only an investment in brand awareness but it’s also a tactic for adapting to client expectations and competitor actions.
Branding is about maintaining relevance as the world changes. It’s a process whereby you continually interpret and apply your brand in the context of new challenges and trends.
You have to stay up to date with the newest legal developments, otherwise, your expertise as an attorney would be irrelevant (or even harmful). Similarly, your branding can help keep your brand up to date to avoid becoming a static brand that fades into the background.
Brand awareness is not about chasing trends. It’s about establishing an enduring identity that will continually be relevant to your clients while expressing your values and evolving in line with your mission.
Review and next steps
If marketing is the engine that keeps your law firm moving, your brand is the compass. Brand awareness includes the activities you do along the way as well as the memories you create for anyone who encounters your brand.
Successful digital marketing for lawyers relies heavily on a strong brand and a strong legal website. Weakness in either category can be drastically detrimental to your growth.
Book a free consultation with Omnizant’s digital marketing experts. Whether your firm needs a brand, branding, marketing or a website, we can fuel your growth journey with skillful support and impactful branding.