Part of a grand design

Visual aids are a vital ally in promoting professional services, says Chris Sessions

The marketing of any service within the legal profession can appear daunting, even to those companies which have employed specialists before.

To alleviate this the aim of any good design company is to work in partnership with its clients to create a service which integrates effectively with that company's infrastructure. Only by understanding a client thoroughly can the most effective visual marketing be conceived and implemented.

When setting out to help position a firm or support how it is perceived a programme must be developed which goes further than just designing an attractive letter heading.

A firm's identity or mark is just the beginning of the process and needs to be sustained throughout all things relating to it – brochures, reception areas, advertisements, even lowly address labels say something about the company. If they are not all carefully considered as part of a greater picture then professionalism, reliability and stability can be needlessly undermined.

In an age of increased visual sophistication people are more aware of the power of the visual medium and need to feel comfortable with the signals being given off by everything they come into contact with.

Visual marketing, graphic design, strategic planning and advertising are all used to explain different strands of essentially the same communication process; and it can be summed up in one word – packaging.

If a practice or service is well-defined, accessible and easy to understand then it is instantly in a position of strength.

Professional services are more complex to explain and market than pure products; invariably they need more attention to sell what is, on the surface, intangible.

“What does my money buy me?” – the age-old cry which besets professional service industries throughout the world can be solved with a meeting which explains the services offered. But do your potential clients want to spend more time in meetings?

This is where advertising and printed literature can play an important role. They are concise arrowheads which only have a short time to pierce consciousness and interest. As such the objectives of all marketing support material has to be well defined from the outset.

Design consultants need to understand the nature of the client firm to create support material which delivers the core information efficiently, no matter how brief the period of exposure is likely to be.

Design makes a difference and the power to enhance either the development or realignment of a business through visual support should never be overlooked. Remember that if a poor service can be improved by being well presented, then a good service can be regarded as equal or inferior if there is weak or non-existent promotional material.

Advertising, design and visual marketing are complex and powerful tools which, when used to help package legal services, can mean the difference between a new client or a missed opportunity.

The creation of the right impression will mean that more potential clients will be able to understand the depth and expertise of your organisation and will be remembered in the future, which is as much as any marketing can hope for.

Chris Sessions is a partner with Frontier design consultancy.