Personal Branding for Lawyers
Why lawyers should push on creating a personal brand and how to build a unique brand strategy
People often talk about wanting to improve their brand. Surely you know what a brand is, as each of us has a favourite one. However, you probably don't think much about having a brand yourself. The idea of “personal branding” is yet unusual for most people. But, in this online age, where things, both good and bad, last forever on the Internet, personal branding can be considered more important than ever.
What is a personal brand? Why is it needed?
Allow me to invite you on a practical exercise - go and google your name. See what's happening. You might find that other people share your name. But, when you see pieces of information and snippets of content that mention you, are they showing what you want the world to see?
For that matter, how do offline people perceive you? Do they connect you and your values with your profession and the values it represents? Add your answers on a list and then compare it with the previous search results.
A lawyer’s branding is a way to let people know what you are doing and why they should hire you. The focus is on you, the lawyer, with a personal brand. And remember that clients hire lawyers for a variety of reasons.
Sadly, there are still many independent lawyers who do not see the importance of branding yet. And the current marketing environment, including ad spending, is not getting any better—just higher. For those we cannot learn to pivot and find creative ways to push their brand and promote it, the risks of drowning with the noise are higher.
What stops lawyers from building a personal brand around themselves?
We're always in touch with our members, to better understand their journey with our platform and their needs, and how we can help them thrive. We noticed a few reasons that stop lawyers from building their brand. And here's what we've heard:
- “I don’t feel comfortable talking about myself, and self-promotion seems to be an activity that shows less integrity to me.”
- “I don't think I have enough experience yet, and promoting myself doesn’t feel right.”
- “Only when I think about promoting myself online it scares me, what if I say the wrong thing?”
- “I am not comfortable with highlighting all qualities. And on top of that, I have no idea how to do it, and not even the time. It feels like it will be an extra overwhelming task.”
And it is easy to understand. Any marketer would feel overwhelmed only thinking that has to understand intellectual property laws or what trademark regulations are.
How do you create a personal brand strategy?
The key to creating a personal brand strategy is to answer one question: How do you want to be perceived by your clients, peers and potential clients or collaborators?
Once you've got your answers, from there, you start to draft the personal branding strategy. Have in mind that you'll need to post quality content, grow your followers, and engage with it. When you start as an independent lawyer, lower your expectations as you will need some time to create your brand. Reputation takes years to build, and that's why having a clear plan and a flexible strategy will ensure your success.
When drafting your brand strategy, remember that it can help you to:
- build a positive online presence
- promote your values to potential clients
- maintain great professional relationships
- strengthen the trust with other legal professionals
- prevent crises and protect your integrity
Personal branding also can help clarify where you should spend your valuable time and energy. Should you spend a few extra hours revising a document? Or you should continue working on that piece of content that can bring you closer to your potential clients? Or perhaps you should finish your current task and reply to emails immediately? The answer is up to your brand and your professional goals.
Here are four steps to designing an effective personal branding strategy for lawyers:
1. Perform a complete audit of your online presence.
It means not only to google your name but to look at your existing social media accounts, your website or your blog - if this is the case. In this step, a couple of questions can be useful:
- How many mentions your name has? Where? Are those mentions relevant for your activity?
- Are your mentions related to how you want your clients to see you?
- Are your owned media (social networks, blog or website) presenting you as the professional you are?
2. Take the time to understand your brand goals
After you're done with running your online presence audit, and answered to the questions mentioned above, it is time for another set of queries. Be sure to not rush and take your time. Remember that personal branding takes time and you want to have clear goals when starting.
- What from your activity are you most proud of?
- What can represent the greatest threat to your brand?
- What do you want to achieve?
- What sets you apart from other lawyers in your area of expertise?
- What qualities do you want to share and promote online?
3. Put yourself in the shoes of your clients
It is essential. Once you've checked your online presence and listed your goals, start to think about the clients you'll serve. You might want to work only with start-ups, small businesses or freelancers. Perhaps you're specialised in intellectual property, and you'd love to work with young digital creators or digital publishers.
Understand who you want your client to be:
- What kind of clients would you like to have? List their demographics and their characteristics.
- What makes it the ideal client for you? List all the details.
- Imagine you are your ideal client. How would you like your lawyer to communicate with you? Or working with you? What expectations would you have from your lawyer?
4. Draft the action plan
After you collected all the data, the next step is to pick up on all your answers. Focus on what sets you apart from others and what qualities you want to share. Also, consider how you want to be perceived by your clients, and most importantly, how they reach you. If you've answered all your above questions, the action plan is just like a puzzle game.
For example, this is the part of your strategy where you add actions for each section. If you conclude that your social media bio is poorly reflecting how you want to be perceived, the next step is to update your social media bio after performing your audit. What if you realise that your name is not associated with many industry-related events? One action could be to find and attend more industry and networking events.
Once you've got that characteristic that sets you apart from your competitors, you could create content that promotes it.
There are plenty of actions you can start right away. Remember that if you're not managing your brand online, you're about to miss out on opportunities. Daily. Your brand is your reputation, and if you don't build a good one, your image and your future will be in the hands of an unpredictable digital environment.
And if you struggle with your time to do it, consider delegating it. You can hire someone to help you, or opt for niche digital marketplaces and online tools, such as Avoteca. By becoming a community member of Avoteca, you can set up an online professional profile on a legal services platform. You can add your contact details, your expertise, your photo and a short bio so that potential clients can find out more about you. You can easily use our platform to publish your work for fellow professionals or potential clients. You have access to a variety of tools and events that help to boost your online visibility.
Feel free to reach out for more information or to check our FAQ section.
And if you’ve found this article useful we encourage you to share it with your colleague, peers, or anyone else you think can benefit from reading it.
Marketer & Community Manager
08 February 2021