Marketing and branding for lawyers and legal practices are just taking off in India, thanks to the recent international exposure the legal industry has seen in the preceding years. Another reason is the advent of social media and its evolving purpose – what started as a way to keep in touch with friends and family is now an integral part of every business’s marketing strategy. Lawyers have been a little late to this party owing to the hitherto traditional set-up of legal practices as well as regulatory ambiguities around marketing of legal services.
Now, however, things are starting to evolve quickly. More lawyers and law firms are investing in digital business development strategies, which involve building an online brand for themselves and leveraging it to market their services. These social media marketing strategies for legal practices comprise of two distinct components – first, building a brand for the practice, and second, bringing the lawyer behind the practice to the front and centre. If you are foraying into this area, it can be quite confusing to choose which way to go. This piece explores both options and by the end, we hope you have an answer to the question ‘What to Market – the Firm or the Lawyer?’
MARKETING A LAW FIRM
Before proceeding further, it is crucial to understand that branding and marketing, while having several overlapping elements, are distinct in some ways. Building a brand defines your firm’s core and differentiates its personality from competitors. Conversely, marketing encompasses the tools and tactical goals you use to establish your brand with the right set of people. These minor differences aside, branding and marketing have the overarching goal of strengthening your business’s position in the industry and securing its financial health.
Branding and marketing a law firm is crucial to establish trust amongst your potential client base and differentiate your firm from the other players in the market. This is achieved through a strategy that is tailored to your firm’s goals. It uses tools such as digital marketing, SEO, blogging, print, and digital ads, to bring in more clients to your firm. To establish a brand for your law firm, you market the quality of services it offers; talk about your firm’s underlying vision, goals and work ethics; demonstrate the firm’s commitment to its clients; share the success your clients have achieved through your services. In a nutshell, the firm becomes the driving component and individual lawyers take a back seat.
MARKETING A LAWYER
Branding and marketing yourself as a lawyer are all about letting your individuality shine. It is a sure-shot way for you to differentiate yourself from your competitors. A client hires a lawyer, not a firm! This is where the concept of ‘personal branding’ comes into picture. It helps you build a reputation and trust with the target audience independent of your firm. This becomes more important if you are part of a large firm with hundreds of lawyers, or if you run an independent practice centred around you. In the former scenario, you need make sure that the size of the firm does not subsume your identity, and in the latter, your personal brand greatly influences and informs the brand of your practice.
Personal branding and individual marketing focus on a person’s journey to success; professional challenges and adversities they have faced; what they have learnt from these challenges and failures; their personal work ethic; and individual networking. If a potential client resonates with who you are as an individual, it becomes easier to forge a long-lasting relationship with them.
KEEPING YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE
The approach to marketing a law firm versus marketing a lawyer focuses on different aspects. But it is essential to keep in mind that both greatly influence each other. Lawyers, as long as they are associated with a firm, cannot be completely cut off from their firm’s reputation. Your place of work certainly impacts how people see you. On the flip side, a firm, being an association of individual lawyers, carries their reputation in its brand. This is especially true for lawyers who hold senior positions in their firm and are engaged in client-facing communications. For chamber practices, often, the lawyer and the practice are virtually inseparable.
Another aspect to consider is the end goal of any branding and marketing activity – it is meant to take you and the firm to greater professional heights. Therefore, keeping an eye on the bottom line and building a robust strategy ensuring maximum growth is important. This invariably includes a marketing plan that focuses on the individual and the practice both, rather than catering to only one.
Personal and business branding should complement each other and work in tandem to reap the most benefits. But remember, your personal brand should not clash with what your firm markets itself as. It is crucial to send the same message to potential clients, albeit with the help of different elements. A hybrid strategy that takes care of both things is the way to go!
WANT TO GET THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS?
A branding and marketing strategist can help you find a workable balance between marketing yourself as a lawyer and marketing your law firm. Feel free to reach out to us to develop a strategy that ensures growth on all fronts!
Gazal Sancheti is a Brand Associate at WeYou Partners and specialises in brand strategy and positioning in the legal sector.