The Halo Effect and Marketing: What Law Firms Should Know



Did you ever see that Snickers ad with Betty White? And didn’t that 30 second celebrity endorsement make you like the Snickers brand so much more? That’s called the halo effect, and you can use it to boost public perception of your law firm.

While you probably can’t get a Golden Girl to endorse your law firm—RIP, Betty White—you can still use the halo effect to improve your initial touchpoints and improve your chances of booking a new client. 

In this article, we’ll demystify the halo effect and explore how you can harness its potential to elevate your reputation online by focusing on four key elements.

What is the halo effect?

The halo effect is a cognitive bias where our overall impression of a person, brand, or entity influences our perceptions of their specific qualities or characteristics. It’s when a single positive impression creates rose-colored glasses for everything else your firm does. 

By making a strong positive first impression, you can tap into the halo effect and create a “halo” of positive perception around your law firm.

Have you ever heard the story of the sour grape? If the first grape you eat is sour, then you probably won’t bother eating grapes again. But if the first grape you eat is a sweet one, then you will be willing to eat a lot of sour grapes in search of another sweet one.

For law firms, this means that the initial impression you make online can greatly impact how potential clients perceive your expertise, trustworthiness and professionalism. Better make it a sweet grape and not a sour one!

So, where should you focus your energy to capitalize on the halo effect? 

Here are the key elements that could be a person’s very first impression of your law firm.

Factor 1: Visual first impression

From your branding to your photos, visuals have a strong and immediate impact on perception. This is true for your website, your social media platforms and anywhere else you appear online.

  • Is your branding professionally done?
  • Is your branding appropriate to the legal industry?
  • Is your branding comprehensive across all platforms?
  • When was the last time your branding was updated?
  • Are your team photos and headshots recent and high-quality?
  • Are the stock photos high-quality and relevant?  

You never know where someone is going to encounter you first, so you need to use high-quality visuals everywhere you appear online. 

To leverage the halo effect, ensure your social media profiles are polished with high-res images and branding that aligns with your other online platforms.

Factor 2: Communication first impression

The way in which you communicate will leave a powerful impression on a potential client. This applies to all your contact methods: website chat, newsletter, text-based marketing, auto-reply to email inquiries, engagement on social media platforms, voicemail messages and the script a front desk associate uses when they pick up the phone.

Prompt Responses: A swift reply to inquiries and comments signals your commitment to client satisfaction. Clients want to know that you’re reachable from the very first inquiry.

Value-Oriented Conversations: Deliver value in every communication. Don’t waste their time with fluff content or self-indulgent lists of accomplishments. Help them get what they need, with empathy and skill.

Remember, your first communication sets the tone for the entire client relationship. Tap into the halo effect by reviewing and tweaking your communication methods to instill trust and approachability from Day One.

Factor 3: Content

It’s possible that the very first brand exposure for your firm with a potential client or referral source is something you’ve published. This might be a LinkedIn post, a blog post, or a social media post.

All your content should be high-quality, valuable, informative, helpful, and relevant.

Through your content, you want to be perceived as an authority who is willing to help.

If your content is disorganized, cliche, inappropriately emotional, stuffed with complicated legal terms or riddled with grammatical errors, people may associate this lack of care with an inability to win a case in court. 

Instead, trigger the positive halo effect by imbuing your content with valuable information and an approachable tone. Don’t be afraid to tweak your content if it’s just not resonating.

Bonus factor: Social proof

If someone else is willing to publicly declare that your firm is amazing, there’s a good chance that other people might be willing to give you a chance, too.

Social proof is one way to leverage positive associations to improve the overall perception of your firm.

Positive reviews and endorsements from clients can amplify the halo effect. Encourage satisfied clients to leave reviews on your social profiles and website. Showcase these testimonials prominently in text or video format to bolster your reputation and credibility online.

Review and next steps

We all know that first impressions matter. But the halo effect teaches us just how critical a first impression can be with regard to convincing a potential client to reach out (or not). 

To benefit from the halo effect, make sure all your initial touchpoints are as valuable and pleasing as possible, including your visuals, your communication, and your content. Remember to include social proof!

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