The November 2011 issue of Law Practice Today, the ABA Law Practice Management's webzine is out, and one of the articles in this month's issue is "Battle of the Brands: Aligning Individual and Law Firm Brands," by Jonathan R. Fitzgerald.
In the article, Fitzgerald reminds lawyers that clients hire lawyers, not law firms, and that means that lawyers need to be conscious of how they represent themselves and their firms through their appearance, experience, actions and relationships. He discusses 5 "brand builders":
- Appearance - Your appearance should convey your level of expertise and professionalism
- Message - A simple and concise statement about how you can add value to a client's business
- Relatability - Show your personality, but be sure to listen so that you can hone in on how you can help them, rather than focusing on yourself
- Client Service - Maintain your relationship: show your interest and look for ways to continue to add value
- Brand Management - Solicit feedback both from inside and outside of your firm
The article focuses on your in-person connections and interactions, but these principles apply to your online activities as well. Does your online persona represent your personal brand well? Does it represent your firm well?
The appearance of your website, blog and social media profiles are all part of your personal and law firm brand. Put up a professional-looking photograph. Make sure profile information is complete. Be sure that your online 'properties' are visually pleasing and easy to navigate.
Your message shoudl be clear and consistent online. Can non-lawyers understand your message and how you can help them by reading your LinkedIn profile or your law firm bio?
Are you relatable online? Do you engage in conversation, listen to others, seek information and demonstrate your understanding of your clients' business and their legal issues, or is everything always about you?
Do you demonstrate the principles of good client service online? Do you help others, answer questions (where appropriate), make connections for clients and potential referral sources or direct them to helpful information or links online?
Are you managing your brand regularly? Do you maintain your online relationships, stay in touch and seek feedback from others about how you can improve?
Like it or not, you have a personal brand, and as a representative of a firm, whether you are an owner, partner, associate or law student intern, those you interact with will judge your firm by how you relate to them.
Is your brand up to snuff?
(If you need help with polishing up your brand, contact me and see how I can help)
*photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/4JDhgx