The success of your law firm’s marketing efforts all hinge on one thing: how well you showcase your unique positioning. Your positioning is what makes your firm different. That certain something that sets you apart. And when it comes to the legal space, your point of differentiation may be quite subtle. It’s a two-percent divergence that, when magnified, snaps everything into focus.
But in order to identify and properly leverage your firm’s point of differentiation, you must first understand where you stand in relation to the constellation of firms you compete with (or aspire to compete with). And the only way to gain that understanding is through a competitive brand analysis.
Here’s what you need to know to get started.
Why Your Law Firm Needs a Competitive Brand Analysis
“Why go to the trouble of performing a competitive analysis?” you (or your firm’s partners) might be thinking. “We already know who our competitors are.”
Not so fast.
When you perform a competitive brand analysis, you take a holistic look at the competitive landscape in which your law firm operates and identify where you sit within that matrix. What you discover over the course of a competitive brand analysis is sure to be revealing, even if you feel pretty certain you already know where you stand. You see, every firm has aspirational competitors — and real competitors. And without the objectivity that a competitive brand analysis affords, it can be hard to tell the two apart.
There’s nothing wrong with aiming high and aspiring to compete with industry leaders. But when it comes to refining your positioning, your aspirations aren’t the right place to start. Your first order of business is to gain an accurate understanding of your firm’s current reputation and external perceptions. Only by doing this can you identify where your greatest opportunities lie — as well as what might be holding you back.
In addition, by looking at your competitors’ branding, you can begin to see the design and marketing trends that dominate your particular space. Often, these trends reveal low-hanging fruit in terms of how you might visually set your firm apart. For example, if most of your competitors’ websites feature images of city skylines and similar color palettes, you know what not to do.
In a competitive analysis, the salient question isn’t “how are you similar?” but “how are you different?” Once you tease out the qualities that set your firm apart, you can use them to crystallize and strengthen your brand.
One final factor to be aware of: In order for a competitive brand analysis to be truly fruitful, you need to have a sense of who you are and where you want your firm to go. Firms that aren’t leaders in their field have a tendency to want to blend in with their competitors. Their primary goal is to prove that they belong, that they deserve a seat at the table. But if you are confident in who you are, you can lay claim to your expertise — and position your brand to achieve new heights.
The Benefits of a Competitive Brand Analysis
A competitive brand analysis is crucial to nailing your law firm’s positioning. But it also yields many other benefits besides. Specifically, an effective competitive brand analysis will enable you to:
- Understand how external audiences categorize your firm (and why).
- Properly situate your firm within your competitive landscape, including actual and aspirational competitors.
- Identify the reasons you sometimes lose work to competitors — and discover opportunities to close the gap.
- Uncover your true market strengths (why your clients hire you, and what they love about you).
- Pinpoint your firm’s authentic points of differentiation.
- Gain a strong understanding of how firms like yours portray themselves within the market — and identify opportunities to stand out.
How to Make the Most of Your Competitive Analysis
By now you know that if you want to elevate your brand, you need to perform a competitive analysis. But if you attempt to do it yourself, you risk getting less than they should from this critical exercise. You may fail to uncover the insights necessary to take your brand to the next level. For example, you may make the common mistake of looking solely at your aspirational competitors or assuming that your audiences view your firm in the same way your internal team views it.
With an objective external partner to guide you, you can maximize the value and accuracy of your competitive brand analysis.
Leveraging an Outside Expert: Decker Design’s Process
When Decker Design guides law firms like yours through a competitive brand analysis, we bring an outsider’s perspective. Not only that, but we also bring a deep understanding of the legal space to bear on your brand positioning.
We begin with a series of internal interviews. By discussing your brand with your partners and associates, we quickly learn how your firm sees itself. We also learn who you see as your biggest competitors — and how you think you compare with them. In addition, over the course of the interviews, we draw out your firm’s future goals as well as your appetite for brand change.
Next, we perform external interviews with a sampling of your clients and prospective clients. In these conversations, we learn how your firm is actually perceived. The degree to which those external perceptions line up with your own assessment of your firm can be extremely telling.
Finally, armed with our interviews and our deep familiarity with the legal space, we put together and present your law firm’s competitive brand analysis. In addition to preparing a comprehensive list of your competitors, we show the range of how various competitive firms express themselves. In doing so, we can share trends, identify outliers, and present the unique opportunities we see for your brand to sharpen its positioning and brand identity.
The truth is that a competitive analysis is really just a tool to help us unveil your law firm’s unique strengths. If your positioning is authentic, then it’s already there, just waiting to be uncovered. Just as a prosecutor gets a witness to open up by framing the same question in many different ways, a competitive brand analysis digs into your firm’s competitive strengths and weaknesses to unearth the big and little differences that set you apart.
The result? A robust brand that reflects who you are today — and where you hope to go tomorrow. Want to learn more about how Decker Design can work with you to isolate and elevate your brand’s difference-making factor? We’d love to talk.