When it comes to recruiting, we don’t have to tell you that today’s law firms are locked in a battle for top talent. Not only must they compete against each other, but they must also contend with rising tech firms and organizations in other industries, too. You’ve spent years building up your law firm’s reputation. But what about your brand?
Here’s the thing: The next generation of up-and-coming talent has incredibly high expectations when it comes to the brands they engage with. Including potential employers. That’s because the millennials who are now coming out of law schools are true digital natives. They grew up in a time of unprecedented branding sophistication. Thus, they have emerged as the most brand-savvy generation we’ve ever seen. They expect high-quality design and a dynamic brand experience across multiple platforms. More than that, they expect brands to be as value-driven as they are stylish.
What does this mean for you? Your firm’s brand — especially as expressed through your website — has the power to significantly impact your recruiting efforts. And if your branding is old-fashioned, outdated, or one-dimensional, you will almost certainly lose out to your more relevant-seeming competition.
Recruiting for Your Law Firm: The Importance of a Modernized Brand
Back when you were first beginning your career, you likely used trade journals, networking events, and career fairs to connect with job opportunities. Today, though, the vast majority of your potential hires will research your firm online before deciding whether to contact you directly, let alone apply for a job. As we’ve said before, your digital presence is now your first (and often, only) chance to make the right impression.
Millennials, in particular, are incredibly tuned in to the way brands portray themselves. And they have a distinct aesthetic all their own. As Molly Fischer recently put it in an article for The Cut, “Millennial marketing showcases models of many races and body types, and the products on offer are obvious in their charms. Every sofa and soft-cup bra presents itself not as evidence of distinctive taste but as the most elegant, economical, and ethical solution to the problem of sofas or soft-cup bras. Simplicity of design encourages an impression that all errors and artifice have fallen away.”
The importance of strong branding is especially pressing when you remember that your law firm will also have to compete with tech companies for your next hires. While many law firms have yet to fully modernize their branding, tech companies are on the bleeding edge of brand sophistication. And many of them already embody millennial-friendly brand identities.
Think about the average law firm’s branding. It is traditional, reserved, and heavy, with dark color palettes and blocky serif fonts. But the millennial aesthetic, which tech companies so ably incorporate, is quite the opposite: clean, colorful, and emotive. Think geometric patterns, sans serif fonts, and splashy colors like terra cotta, sea foam green, and so-called millennial pink.
Make no mistake: The point is not to force your law firm’s branding into a trendy box simply for the sake of appealing to millennials. After all, there’s a reason most law firms opt for more restrained branding choices. But it’s possible to remain true to your law firm’s personality and values while at the same time presenting a more modern, relevant version of your brand. And that is exactly what you must strive to do.
Value-Driven Branding: What Millennials Want From Their Employers
Millennials, even those just entering the workforce, tend to have a strong idea of what they want from their jobs. In general, they want their employers to be purpose-focused with progressive values. They want to work in an environment that fosters inclusivity and diversity. They look for firms that offer a supportive path to career development. And they want a healthy work-life balance. For many new law school graduates, these qualities may even count for more than your firm’s level of prestige.
However, if your branding is outdated, it won’t matter how progressive, supportive, inclusive, or balanced your firm is. Chances are your prospective hires will never know it. They’ll take one look at your website and decide to go elsewhere. Your branding and website must authentically reflect and convey your firm’s culture if you want to fully leverage your culture to attract the best-fit job candidates.
Keep in mind that when it comes to conveying your values, branding is about much more than just your logo, color scheme, and typography. On their own, visual design elements can work to create a mood or the rough sketch of a personality. But they don’t have meaning until you bring meaning to them.
In order to create a meaningful brand, you must first identify your values. Only then can you figure out how you want to express them in a way that connects with your intended audience. In that sense, your brand should be expressed in everything from the language you use on your website to the images you choose and, yes, your logo, too.
For example, if your law firm offers a higher level of mentorship and career development than most large firms, you’ll want to be sure your branding and website communicate that to prospective associates. You might achieve this by selecting images that convey a more personal touch. Or by dedicating a web page with copy written directly about how you nurture your staff’s development.
One thing is certain: Your branding is already having an impact on your recruiting. The question is whether it’s a positive or negative one. If you want to attract the best up-and-coming talent to your firm, you must make sure your branding is contemporary, relevant, and reflective of your firm’s authentic values.