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How law firm brands attract top early talent

A new report on the top 50 UK law firms provides useful insights to marketing and early careers teams aiming to get the most from their brand personality online, explains Grahame Jones at Soukias Jones.

Pushing brand identity and using short video content are two of the takeaways for how firms can up the stakes when it comes to using online branding to attract top early talent, according to the brand consultancy Soukias Jones’s new survey of the top 50 UK law firms.

We found that when firms combined a creative approach to expressing their brand personalities via websites and social media, the results were compelling. Top performers included Addeshaw Goddard, Dentons, Hogan Lovells and Walker Morris.

Our report ‘Projecting brand personality to Gen Z’ provides useful insights to all marketing, graduate and early careers teams aiming to get the most from their firm’s brand personality online not just in the legal and professional sectors, but all sectors where the pressure to attract talent is relentless and highly competitive.

Why is brand personality important?
It says the sort of firm you are and strongly influences how graduates and early talent perceive and engage with you. We decided to investigate by assessing the online brand personalities of law firms as expressed by their websites and social media.

How are websites performing?
By using a score of 1 (‘formal’) – projecting ‘conservative, reserved, staid’ characteristics to 10 (‘informal’) – expressing more ‘energetic, modern, human’ traits, we assigned a score between 1 and 10 to each firm. This gave us an indication of the brand personality of each firm.

Key findings, include:
– 49% (24 firms) rank 4 or below
– 24% (12 firms) rank 6 or above
– 75% (9 firms) of all firms that rank 6 or above use microsites.
– Most US firms ranked 5 or below.

‘Formal’ scores (49% of firms)
UK teams probably hindered by:
– The structure of global websites.
– Adopting firm-wide career themes and hubs.
– The existing corporate identity and guidelines.
– The resources available.

‘Informal’ scores (24% of firms)
UK teams aided by:
– Using a microsite to help customise the content, experience and style of students (ie. Addleshaw Goddard)
– Inheriting and projecting modern, vibrant corporate identity (ie. Walker Morris)
– Using engaging photography, video content and copywriting (ie. Hogan Lovells)
– Adopting overarching brand proposition (ie. Dentons ‘Challengers. Accepted’)
– Using interactive brochures to replicate the behavior of microsites (ie. Taylor Wessing)

Lessons learned, include:
– Make your brand ID appeal to design-savvy students, stretch your corporate guidelines
– Customise design and experience, use microsite, if unable, try interactive brochures
– Creatively bring your words and people alive, find good copywriter and photographer
– Produce entertaining short and long form video content, engaging way to showcase your personality and story.

How is social media performing?
Gen Z live in social media. It’s where their communications are concentrated and where they scout out potential employers, seeking to get a feel for working at the firm. Social media plays a significant role in shaping brand personality.

Key findings, include:
– Having dedicated platforms for graduates and early careers
– 60% (30 firms) for Instagram
– 34% (17 firms) for Facebook
– 16% (8 firms) for Twitter
– 8% (4 firms) for TikTok
– No firms had a graduate or early careers LinkedIn platform.

Good performers include:
– @shoosmithsgrads. Shoosmiths’ Instagram platform.
– The Mishcon de Reya ‘Graduate Shapers’ podcast series.
– BCLP’s ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) video series.
– cmslaw.life TikTok platform (CMS).

Lessons learned
If you are not already, get on Instagram. If you are, make it work harder. Leverage Instagram’s features such as polls, quizzes, Live, Reels, interactive stickers and Q&A sessions to engage your audience. Encourage participation and feedback.

Produce short-form video content. Focus on real, relatable content that reflects your company’s values and personality; and resonate with Gen Z.

Gen Z predominantly uses mobile devices to access social media, optimise your content for mobile viewing. Create visually appealing and easily digestible content that looks great on small screens.

Social media gives you permission to be bold, brave and creative. Take off your ‘I work for a law firm hat’ and fully embrace the potential that short-form content, for example, affords.

In summary
There is clear evidence that when firms adopt a creative approach to reflecting their brand personalities online (websites and social media) the result is a vibrant, distinct, human and engaging personality – something which is appealing to visually literate Gen Z seeking authenticity and transparency.

A copy of the Soukias Jones is available here or contact Grahame Jones.

Matt Baldwin
Matt Baldwin
Co-founder – Coast Communications

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