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The Devastating Repercussions of Misbranding Your Firm

Every time you write and publish a legal blog post, your writing style, word choice, and topical content don’t just tell a story about the legal field you practice in – they also tell a story about who you are, as a lawyer or as a firm as a whole. While we hate to use the word, this is the process of “branding” your law firm.

What people often overlook is the very real potential for misbranding who you are. The consequences of taking on a firm character that you can’t back up or that is not real can be devastating. Reining in and controlling your blogging style to fit your personality is essential.

The Most Needlessly Complicated Word in Marketing: Branding

We might be marketers, but we detest the word “branding” and what it’s become. For such a fundamentally simple concept, it has been made awfully complex and confusing.

Probably the most grating phrase has been the mantra that law firms and lawyers need to “build their brand” or “make a brand,” as if they don’t have one to begin with and have to consciously act to create one.

Neither one of those conclusions are true. Brands are nothing more than professional personalities, and everything you do contributes to it, no matter how consciously you do it. Showing up on time for every meeting “builds your brand.” So does continuing to drive a 1995 Toyota Corolla.

Legal Blogging and Your Brand

Writing is, quite literally, the process of giving your thoughts to someone else. There is nothing more intimate or powerful, when it comes to the process of “branding” yourself or your firm. It gives you the opportunity to do nearly anything you want and portray whatever attitude you think most encapsulates your professional personality.

The All-Important Focus: Keep It Real

Many people and lawyers think that branding is only “working” when it is over the top, with a focus on “absolutely memorable.”

But there are two potential drawbacks for this kind of aggressive branding:

  • It creates a memorable impression, but not necessarily a good one
  • People who do call are going to expect the attitude in your marketing to permeate your firm

This second issue is one that lots of lawyers overlook when they start marketing their law firm. It is very possible to misbrand yourself in your advertising by portraying an attitude that you don’t really have. The repercussions of focusing on aggressively portraying a brand that you don’t have are severe, from a business standpoint:

  • Clients who hire you are going to be disappointed that you’re “different” or “not what they expected” from your commercials, ads, or blogs
  • Disappointed clients are going to feel tricked into hiring you
  • You probably won’t have many repeat clients, and will struggle to get word-of-mouth referrals

But perhaps more importantly, lawyers who take big steps to brand themselves, and then misbrand their character face some daunting personal struggles, as well:

  • You’ll feel pressured into adopting the character you want to portray, rather than acting in your own, in order to keep clients from feeling disappointed
  • You’ll always feel like you’re “acting”
  • Aggressive advertising campaigns that misbrand who you are will taint your character, potentially forever

Just imagine if Brian “Texas Law Hawk” Wilson were a quiet, soft-spoken introvert who hates football and doesn’t own an ATV.

Strong branding campaigns have to be real to your true character, or else you’ll find yourself fighting against the image you have created for yourself. Like a tattoo, the brand you choose should feel natural, like an extension of who you really are – one that won’t surprise other people and that you’ll never regret adopting as your own.

Consequences of misbranding your law firm's character