Maximizing Law Firm Branding

December 19

Beyond a look or a logo, a strong brand is supported by an actual experience. It conveys what differentiates a firm from others and why it matters to clients. A clearly defined brand bolsters the confidence of existing clients, tells potential clients what to expect, and draws the attention of lateral hires and recruits.

A strong brand not only reflects the individual competence of attorneys but also signifies the overall competence of the firm as a whole. While clients may initially hire a lawyer for their expertise, a reputable brand behind that lawyer can enhance the client's perception of the firm's capabilities. This brand image should resonate throughout every aspect of the firm, from the first point of contact with the receptionist to the interactions with the billing department, secretaries, and even attorneys who may be stepping in to assist colleagues.

 

When it comes to branding law firms, there are unique challenges related to tradition and the firm's power structure. In many law firms, power dynamics are often tied to client generation. Each firm should carefully consider the message conveyed by its name. For example, a firm with a name that includes all equity partners may suggest a more egalitarian structure or a culture of inclusivity. On the other hand, a smaller firm with a name that highlights only one partner, especially one who is still actively practicing, may indicate a more concentrated power structure. It's essential to understand how the firm's name reflects its brand and how that brand is perceived by the market.

In the ever-evolving landscape of law firm branding, many firms opt to shorten their names to streamline or align with how they are recognized in the market. However, the use of taglines can also effectively communicate a firm's message, provided they are carefully crafted to convey the firm's values and offerings.

 

These realities seem to conflict with the trend to shorten names, regardless of the subtle messages that may be communicated. More established firms tend to shorten their names to simplify or to recognize how the market knows the firm. When named partners are no longer practicing, branding lawyer names has very little to do with communicating the actual client experience.

 

Given these factors, law firms use other branding techniques to communicate the client experience. The use of tag lines is very popular, but firms must be careful to ensure that these phrases effectively communicate the firm’s message.

 

Finally, trade names are generally acceptable for use, but many firms are unwilling to risk the market value of an existing name for an unproven trade name. Nuanced firms positioning themselves as evolutionary are more apt to use trade names.

 

Many of these firms are relatively new and are freer to operate under a different naming convention. They see their name as an important component of communicating that they are different from traditional law firms. To highlight this with a real-life example, I asked the managing partner of Rimon (rimonlaw.com), Michael Moradzadeh, about the intended message of their name and logo. He responded,

“We chose that name because it was a symbol for integrity, prosperity, and the law in the ancient world. We also liked the imagery of many equal seeds that make a pomegranate, the way we see ourselves as a team made of equals.”

 

Some build on the notion that they are former large firm partners who, now liberated from the big firm world, are free to deliver higher quality and more cost-effective services. Others position themselves as being unburdened by the traditional law firm pyramid that passes training costs along to clients. All of this has an attraction to those clients searching for a different experience, which must be borne out by solid results and the promised value-added benefits (economic, collaborative or creative, etc.)

 

A branding process that focuses on how the market interprets a firm’s brand and aligns the reality of the firm’s service offerings to support that brand is ideal. The firm brand will then communicate the true client experience.