Do Lawyers Need Branding?

A survey of lawyers in Sydney showed that word of mouth referrals was still the most important source of new clients. This lead to some established lawyers believing they do not need to care about their personal brand. Nothing could be further than the truth.

What Is Personal Branding?

Female lawyer standing in front of law books in Sydney office

Personal Branding, in the business sense, is the image you project to the world. It’s the combination of what I see when I search for you online, what your office and signage looks like, and any online or printed marketing collateral you have. It’s what I think you are, when I’m not face to face with you.

Jeff Bezos of once said:

Your personal brand is what others say about you when you leave the room

In the past, your reputation was formed by your interactions with other people. Nowadays, your headshot is your first impression. People form an opinion of you long before they even meet you.

Why Is A Personal Brand Important?

Female lawyer with blonde hair in studio headshot Coogee

Established lawyers will tell you that referrals are the key. And they’re right. But you’ll find the best firms also have a strong brand presence. Why is that important?

Clients Will Search You

When someone is referred to you, they still search for you online and find out who you are.

A referral is a strong vote of confidence. In fact, given a referral, clients are 3 times more likely to act compared to contacting a firm they found in a search result.

But don’t be deceived to think you are the only lawyer in a potential client’s extended network. Chances are they’ve been given names of 4-6 law firms by friends and family. They probably even have a cousin’s flatmate who’s a lawyer.

Armed with these names, the first thing they will do is look up each person. What they find is their first impression of you. Are you friendly or serious, authoritative or approachable? Can you be trusted? Should they bother calling you?

Or if your profile photo is missing, does that raise queries on your legitimacy?

People Hire People

Some people think a website is a brand.

You’ll be familiar with the generic small law firm site, with an iconic location on the front page, a stock photo of an arm in a suit shaking hands with another arm, with documents to signify some work is being done. The same formula has been done since 2001, and it’s getting seriously dated.

When clients are looking for a lawyer, they don’t care about these things. They are looking for someone who can help solve their problems. Someone with knowledge, competence, and experience who will care about their issue.

Stock photos tell others that you are impersonal, and afraid to be seen. I can’t even tell if you’re real or a scam site run out of an overseas call center.

In fact, Google eye tracking studies have shown that stock photos are subconsciously ignored by consumers. They may as well be blank spaces.

One experiment showed that replacing a stock photo with the real person increased conversion on that page by 35-45%! We can help you create a series of at-work imagery to show off you and your staff. Show you are with the times, and that you work professionally.

Build Trust And Show Authority

Lawyer headshots in front of bookshelf in Sydney Law Office

Most Sydney Law Firms are putting staff profiles online now. They write impressive bios outlining their experience. However sometimes the headshot isn’t as well thought out.

What they don’t realise is that a photograph is processed within one 6000th of a second. Before a client reads your website, they have already made a judgement on who you are.

When clients come to us, they ask for a ‘professional’ headshot. But what does professional mean? For a family lawyer, this may mean being understanding and approachable. For a criminal lawyer, it may mean being confident, authoritative. There is no one-size-fits-all, and we help you discover what qualities will best serve your business.

Common Mistakes in Lawyer Headshots:

  1. Using a DIY photograph. The public perception is that lawyers charge and charge well for their time. If a lawyer cannot afford a professional headshot, it casts serious doubt their professionalism. Bad headshots will actively lose you work!
  2. Blank looks. Sometimes you just see a person in a suit, smiling blankly into the ether. You just can’t feel any connection with them. Sometimes they look nervous, like they’ve held that fake smile for way too long. It doesn’t build confidence in me as a customer.
  3. Uncomfortable or disinterested looks. Sadly this is not self-evident. When you’re squinting because you’re in the sun, the wind is blowing in your eyes, it’s just no good. Firstly as a customer, I wonder why you approved of this shot. Secondly, I just feel as uncomfortable as you look – and I attribute this to being uncomfortable with your professionalism. You’re likely to lose the customer.
  4. Using an old photo. You may like that photo 5 years ago from when you were in corporate. But when your client meets you and sees someone different, you’ve just turned your first interaction into a lie. Who wants a liar lawyer?
  5. Using an overly edited photo. We favor a subtle style of editing that’s real but makes you look your best. Some other photographers really go all the way with Photoshop, making you look fake. It’s not a dating site, people want a real person, not a plastic doll.

A professional Lawyer Headshot doesn’t just show what you look like. It shows the qualities that will help attract your target audience. It shows your competence and knowledge. It makes me trust you and want to reach out for your help.

How do we draw these qualities out? Unlike other photographers, we spend time talking to you to learn about your business, and what sets it apart. Our skill is not manipulating the camera, but working with people and bringing out their best. You’re not a commodity, and neither is your headshot.

Choose The Right Background

Female lawyer with brown hair in studio headshot Sydney

Here is a lawyer with a dark background. These are one of the most popular requests from lawyers, the charcoal grey gives a sense of authority and confidence in your portrait.

It looks simple, but there are little details to be careful of. We use lighting to ensure there’s a clear separation of you from the background so that you don’t melt into it and disappear.

You can see in these examples, we have used different amounts of light and shadow to give a different feel to the whole portrait.

This might be the first headshot for your LinkedIn and website. It’s very popular for new lawyers, and will last you a few years.

The other popular request is having your office background in your portraits. This is great for pulling staff together into a consistent look.

The best lawyers have a library of imagery to use in different situations. Sometimes you want to show your office for context, and to show your size. Other times the plain background is needed for its simplicity and clarity.

Read more about backgrounds and how to decide what to use.

Let Clients Know Who You Are

Sydney Lawyers professional photographs in front of bookcase

Don’t limit your profile to headshots. We do half and full body Executive Portraits for most law firms. These are used for profile pages, editorials, articles, speaker profiles, and more.

Then there are the photographs showing your daily interactions with other staff and with clients. Most customers don’t actually know what you do all day. These action shots let your web visitor imagine what your work is like, if staff work well together, whether you work professionally, whether you can be trusted. When they haven’t visited your firm before, these photographs will be the source of their mental image of you.

We have helped so many firms with imagery they didn’t even think about. We can create a library of imagery that will suit different pieces of marketing collateral throughout the year.

Lawyers having a meeting in Sydney law firm

Show Off Your Office

Not every photograph needs to have you in it. Show off your workplace, use it for titles and web banners. Show off the space you’ve worked hard to design.

We Make It Easy

You are busy professionals, so we make it easy by first understanding your market and then planning an effortless photographic session at your location.

We set up professional lighting at your location anywhere in Sydney. We are very good at putting people at ease, so your photograph looks natural and genuine. We coach you on expression and posture, so you don’t have to worry about a thing. We are good at finding the best angles in the smallest offices.

You will see your portraits as we go along, and you know everyone will be happy with their headshot. We direct you, but also let you bring out your personality and style.

Ready to stand out from the crowd? Contact us now and let us help you discover how you can show off your brand.

Get 6 Pro Tips to Make Your Business Stand Out from the Crowd!

Being professional means looking professional. Take care of your image so your clients gain confidence in you… Get this free booklet with tips on how to always look your best and be seen as a leader in your industry, guaranteed.

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