On the Internet, there are numerous ways for us to establish our identities. Regardless of how we do it, our end goal is to provide others with information about ourselves that gives them information about who we are. Establishing one’s brand is an entirely different matter. Specifically, one’s brand isn’t who we are, but what we represent, how we represent it, and is ultimately dependant on how we market it. Now, while these explanations may seem vague, further examination reveals more precisely how brand and identity are different and how each are intertwined.
Pretend your name is John Smith, and you own a bakery. You log onto social networking sites, provide those sites with your name, place of employment, and a brief description about your company. This is your identity, plain and simple. Now let’s say you create a blog talking about your bakery, you Tweet about product specials, and you interact with customers on a more one-on-one level via social networking sites like Facebook. Here, you are promoting your brand, essentially giving customers and clients further insight into what your company is about via marketing your business. See the difference? Effectively marketing oneself on social networks isn’t simply about being there (having an identity), it’s about establishing yourself as an authority, showing customers and potential clients that you can be a trusted source of information, and that you are more than a business store front that is simply trying to secure profit. At the most basic level, our brands show others what we care about, and help them connect with us on a more interactive level.
According to a recent mashable.com article, companies whose CEOs have an established identity on social networking platforms tend to experience more tangible, real world results via sales than those companies whose CEOs do not have such a presence. Higher levels of satisfaction, user endorsement, and recommendation are all cited in the article. For law firms, such positive results can be obtained by not only establishing a presence/identity on the Internet, but also implementing an effective marketing campaign that promotes your brand (law practice). Furthermore, establishing your law firm as an authority on specific subject matters is essential in encouraging potential clients to turn to you for legal assistance if they need it.
Nowadays, it is important to remember that the vast majority of people like to fact check before they enter into any sort of business arrangement. Whether it’s consumers scouring the web for product reviews before they buy a television, or typing a law firm’s name into Google in the hope of learning more about that firm, consumers are now prone to gathering as much information as possible about a product or service before they actually use it. Therefore, for attorneys and law firms who want to effectively market their businesses, the best course of action in any marketing plan should always involve establishing not only an identity on the Internet, but a brand as well. While it may seem unconventional to spend resources on social networking, it is important to remember that most consumers are on these sites, interacting with one another, talking about products and services that they have found especially useful, and providing law firms and other companies with unsolicited advertising. Now doesn’t it make sense for a law firm to be right there next to the consumer? You never know…an established legal web presence may mean the difference between one client choosing your firm over another, which is a risk that can easily be avoided by establishing not only one’s online identity, but also one’s online brand.