Sharing the lessons of the Luqmani Thompson law firm rebrand
28th August 2023
Luqmani Thompson is an immigration law firm based in North London which was founded by Sally Thompson and Jawaid Luqmani in 1998. Between April 2022 and May 2023, the firm worked with Sue Bramall to carry out a rebrand and launch a new website.
Sally and Sue shared their step-by-step approach to the project and their tips for other law firm leaders embarking on a similar project in an article for Managing for Success, the magazine for the Law Society Leadership and Management Section.
Sally: Our marketing strategy had long been unrealised strategy. Running a Legal Aid firm means resources are limited. I got the theory of it all from my MBA but in practice, without actual experience, I was very unclear what to do and there were a lot of false starts. Marketing is time-consuming and costly, so getting it wrong wasn’t an option. However, with Legal Aid being unsustainable without an increase in our private client work, I knew that unrealised strategy could signal the end of the firm. That’s why we decided to invest in some external support and expertise.
Sue: When the enquiry came through from Luqmani Thompson Solicitors, I should confess that I wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to be a good fit for this project as I have always leaned more towards corporate business-to-business firms. Also, Legal Aid firms are not known for having big (or even realistic) marketing budgets, as they often have more enquiries than they can cope with and so place little importance on their website. However, I was really impressed by the leadership team (Sally has an MBA and won the 2019 Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year Award for Practice Management) and they had a clear vision to diversify and attract private fee-paying work from new markets in the future.
Sally: We engaged Sue as an outsourced marketing manager for 12 hours per month, and the first thing we worked on was preparing a brief for a designer. This involved the three partners looking at the websites of our competitors and other websites that we found impressive. Sue encouraged us to articulate exactly what we each liked and disliked about the branding and website designs – breaking it down into the various elements: colours, fonts, image style etc.
Sue: A person’s preference for design is very subjective and just looking at the offices of the three partners, it was clear that they each had a very different and distinctive style. Distilling their likes and dislikes into a written set of Do’s and Don’ts provided an important starting point for the graphic designer to work from. A clear written brief also means that you are able to obtain a more accurate quotation from a designer.
Luqmani Thompson is a multicultural firm with a multicultural client base, and I was acutely aware that all the graphic designers that I had ever used (or knew) on legal projects were white, so we decided to look for some talent beyond those with a track record in the legal world to bring a fresh perspective to the project.
Sally: After shortlisting three designers, Kieron Lewis was selected - his client list includes Harper Collins, The Royal College of Surgeons of England, Levi Strauss & Co. Penguin Books and Freedom from Torture, and we really liked the style of his work. Our brief to Kieron was to come up with a design which was ‘professional’ and ‘vibrant and bold’ as well as ‘distinctive, clean and fresh’ but not ‘safe and boring’.
Sue: Kieron took a structured approach to leading the partners through the rebrand process, sending over a wide range of typographical concepts initially and, as ones were eliminated, a shortlist of designs was agreed. Kieron provided these in different colour variations – and we looked at these alongside those of the main competitors to ensure that there was sufficient differentiation.
Sally: Deciding on the font was the easy part, and we liked the way the Q became a magnifying glass (signifying our forensic approach to finding a legal solution). Deciding on the final colour combination was much trickier due to inconsistencies in seeing colours on various screens and office printer limitations. Sue sent us some Pantone books and we settled on preferred colour - whether the colour is blue or purple is a subject of much debate, but we like it!
Sue: Once the logo was agreed, Kieron was able to work on the business cards and letterheads. Meanwhile, we needed to prepare a clear brief for the website. The first step in this process was to get the partners to really think through who their new target audiences will be, who they want to attract as private fee-paying clients, and the legal problems that they will need to be solved.
Sally: My MBA extended project had focused on ‘Diversifying our services within the context of one provider: the Legal Services Commission.’ We have always known the work types that we wanted to attract, but we had not broken it down in the granular way that was needed for our strategy to be put into practice.
By the end of this exercise, we had identified nine broad legal services, with detailed lists of sub services (matter types), the target markets for each, the common characteristics, and the needs of the different client groups.
Sue: It was useful to keep asking the question “Is that what a client is going to search for on Google?” For example, “Public Law” is one of those expressions that means different things to different people (and doesn’t mean anything to some people). Similarly Human Rights is a broad category, so we had to work out how to ensure it was clear that these two services related to immigration and asylum claims, while at the same time making the firm more attractive to entrepreneurs and business sponsors.
Sally: In moving the firm forward to attract new client groups, we didn’t want to alienate any of our current clients. We receive a lot of referrals from not-for-profits, for example in regard to trafficking or domestic abuse, and these relationships are important to us. We also want the website to play a role in showcasing the expertise of our team and helping with recruitment, which is a challenge for a small firm like ours. And finally, we need to meet our obligations in regard to pricing transparency for the SRA – all while providing a slick user-experience and looking professional and vibrant!
Sue: Armed with all this information, I was able to draw up a design brief and a site map for the new website and we invited four agencies to pitch for this work. Comparing website quotations can be a bit like comparing apples and pears, so our brief asked for the pricing to be broken down into the various elements of design; development of the site (building/coding); optional extras; hosting, maintenance; and updates.
Sally: We selected Exesios BDD whose price structure was based on a fixed development cost rather than a monthly rental/service fee. It was important to us that the website was built to our needs, as we had already learned that a standard template could be restrictive, and Sue assured us that a modern content management system would give us the flexibility to add new lawyers, new services and it should cope with any new SRA requirements. Ongoing costs for hosting and maintenance were very reasonable, and less than we were currently paying per month.
Sue: Designer Tom Edge took the partners through a similar iterative journey, working up designs for the desktop home page which were approved before moving onto the internal pages. Once these had been agreed, he moved onto the designs for the mobile versions for tablet and phone screen sizes.
Sally: This is where things got exciting; we started to see glimpses of the rebranded firm and the exercise led to a fair amount in internal chat and bonding. Expressing our likes and dislikes was easy, but when there wasn’t a consensus, we risked diluting the strength of the new brand or playing too safe. Having an outside consultant involved was invaluable in moving us forward and getting us focussed on the right things.
Sue: In parallel to the design work, I worked with the partners to produce all the new content for the website – starting with the lawyer profiles, each lawyer was asked to complete a detailed crib sheet which prompted them to provide evidence of their experience and achievements (rather than just saying they were good at something). This was really valuable, as it highlighted lots of interesting work that could also be mentioned on the nine legal service pages. We particularly wanted to highlight key cases and the breadth of work the firm undertakes.
Sally: I took the lead on coordinating the twelve lawyer profiles, while Jawaid Luqmani worked with Sue to flesh out the nine legal service pages and Milla Walker valiantly reviewed the c90 blogs to decide whether they needed to be pulled across, if they needed to be updated, and which of the nine services they should be tagged for – quite an exercise! We all had a fresh look at how best to convey the complex pricing information in a user-friendly manner.
Sue: What a team! In over 25 years of helping launch law firm websites, this is the first time the content has all been drafted, edited, and signed off before the development team have finished coding the website. This meant that as soon as Exesios provided access to the beta site (6/7 weeks after the designs had been signed off), we were able to upload the content very quickly and focus on working with the developer to iron out any bugs, such as links not working or pages not displaying quite as expected.
Sally: Alongside this, we had also been progressing things like new team photos, new signage for the office, agreeing the footers for new emails, obtaining a trade mark, sorting out some historic issues on social media. Even with the support of a marketing consultant, there is still a big list of jobs for the internal team to work through.
Sue: By the middle of May, we could see that all our ducks were nearly in a row, and felt confident to set a launch date of Wednesday 31 May and we had agreed a plan with everyone to be clear about their responsibilities for the big day.
Sally: The proof is there to see in our website www.luqmanithompson.com – and, at long last, we can boast about our realised marketing strategy. And here’s to the next 25 years!Back to Blog
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