Your law firm’s branding is ripe for a redesign. You know it’s time to hire a design firm and make some strategic decisions. But the reality is that your firm’s partners may not all be in agreement about whether — and how — to make this critical marketing investment.
If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Many firms worry about hiring a design firm because they don’t want to stir up internal conflict. They know that consensus is a requirement to move forward with a new website or design system, and that can sometimes seem like an unrealistically tall order. After all, just reaching consensus on a paint color for the conference room may have been a big ordeal.
But at Decker Design, we’re confident that any law firm — yours included — can achieve consensus when working with our team. That’s because we base our design decisions on a combination of data, expertise, and strategy. We start with research, not color schemes. Aesthetics matter, but smart design is more purposeful than that. We seek to build your law firm’s visual design so that it is in alignment with your business objectives.
When you make design decisions based on quality research and well-formed business goals rather than trendy typefaces, you’re more likely to get your firm’s stakeholders to rally around a shared vision. This approach also happens to result in better, more sophisticated design.
The Consensus-Building Process for Law Firm Design Projects
Decker Design’s entire process is geared toward building consensus around a carefully crafted design system. Here’s our step-by-step process:
- Research deep-dive. We always begin our work with law firms with a research phase that seeks to assess the firm’s existing brand and uncover perceptions around it. We start by conducting internal and external interviews to discern your firm’s perceived strengths and weaknesses. These interviews are consistently revealing. For example, it’s not uncommon to find that there’s a gap between the way the market perceives your firm and your firm’s perceptions about itself. We also take this time to learn about your firm’s business objectives, complete a competitive analysis, and assess your existing branding materials, website, and marketing collateral.
- Present findings and make recommendations. Our research culminates in a report that we present to your partners. We also present a set of recommendations about how best to move forward. The point of this step in the process is to ensure everyone on your team understands your firm’s current reputation — and how to refine your positioning so that your firm’s branding actively advances your business objectives. Our recommendations lend themselves to consensus-building for one simple but powerful reason: They are based on evidence, not preference. This gets your stakeholders to stop thinking about design in terms of aesthetics (which are highly subjective) and instead shifts their focus toward business objectives (which are not).
- Design with a purpose. After we’ve worked together to refine your firm’s positioning, we begin the design process in earnest. Our approach dictates that form must follow function. That is to say that every design decision we make builds toward the goal of achieving your objectives. It’s not about whether the website should be blue, green, or red. It’s about what makes the most sense given your agreed-upon goals. The more your team coalesces around your new positioning, the easier it becomes to make rational and well-supported design decisions. That doesn’t mean that aesthetics take a back seat. We pride ourselves on producing highly attractive design work. It’s just that the work we do for your firm won’t just be aesthetically pleasing. It will be effective, too. In this phase, we help your team build consensus by bringing you back to the positioning and other strategic objectives when differences of opinion inevitably arise.
The Consensus-Building Process in Action: Hueston Hennigan’s New Positioning and Website
When you look at design choices through the lens of positioning, the right path forward typically becomes much more obvious. The direct connection between clear positioning and effective design can be seen in our recent work with leading litigation firm Hueston Hennigan.
Hueston Hennigan hired Decker Design to rework their positioning and web design. Over the course of our engagement, we helped this innovative law firm uncover its new positioning as being uniquely disruptive. As a result, the website we designed for them is all about emphasizing disruption, from the stark black-and-white palette to the use of motion, including video and motion graphics.
Of course, the design you see now on their website wasn’t the only option we presented to them. But it was very clearly the best option given their desire to be identified as disruptive. Despite this, a portion of the team preferred another design option we presented (with some even questioning whether the black-and-white palette in the winning design was a bit too edgy). But even with these differences of opinion, we were able to arrive at consensus because we all understood that we needed to use our agreed-upon positioning as the filter through which we gauged the design options.
The most disruptive design won out. As well it should have.
Our process with Hueston Hennigan perfectly illustrates the importance of taking an evidence-based approach to design. When firms are tasked with choosing between multiple design options and the only difference between them is aesthetics, it may be nearly impossible to reach consensus. But with positioning as the driving force, consensus is achievable. And the results are guaranteed to be more effective, too.