Recently we decided it was time to update our law firm’s branding. I say “we” because these days my firm is more than just me. We are over four-years old now, and it’s me, my paralegal/assistant, and my Of Counsel, who is my soon-to-be partner.
Shannon has proven to be an extraordinarily valuable asset to the firm. She has become an incredibly good attorney. Her work product is extraordinary. She has made improvements to almost every process in the firm. We are working on building her practice so that she has a book of business to bring to the table in exchange for stock, but it’s pretty much a done deal in my mind.
Because of Shannon, we have expanded our boundaries slightly. We still maintain a small business focus, but our services now include a lot more business litigation, collections, and entertainment law. And that has meant a lot more interaction with other law firms.
While our clients “got” our old logo, other law firms did not take us seriously because of it. Our old logo conveyed both business growth and a friendliness that other lawyers read as “weak”:
Also, the big “M” stands for “Meehle,” and there’s no room for “Davis” in there (plus, “MD” as a logo conveys “medicine” instead of “business law”).
We spoke with a few people about what needed to change. First, we spoke to a few trusted lawyer friends. They basically said that the little leaf had to go. Second, the “growing small business” tag line confused them: were we a law firm or a business consultancy? The logo just did not read as “professional” to the staid, conservative legal community. Which is, by admission, exactly what I was going for when I first adopted the logo.
Next, I talked to Danna Olivo, my business and marketing consultant, who recommended some concrete changes: Lose the cute. Go for something simple and graphic and modern that still appeals to clients but will look professional to lawyers, accountants and other referral sources. Brown and green together do not say “business.” Make sure the logo can be used both as a square and as a wider rectangle so that it looks good in different formats and still appear uniform. Make sure it looks good in color and in black & white.
Got it! We took all of that advice and approached our graphic designer, Tina Kiker. We told her that the design need to meet Danna’s approval as well as being able to transition from “Meehle” to “Meehle Davis.” Tina started out by giving us six very different designs for each “Meehle Law” and “Meehle Davis”. We liked this, we didn’t like that… and then she came back with four more designs that worked either way. We shot back that we wanted this part from the first design and that part of the third design, and she returned what appeared to us to be “it,” our new logo.
So then we took Tina’s advice and showed the logo to several of our most trusted clients, asking for feedback. Their response was straightforward: we like it but we don’t love it yet. You need a thicker font. You need to change the colors slightly. We love the new tagline. We took their responses back to Tina, who applied their advice. This is the final logo she came back with:
and the “wide” version:
and the “Meehle Davis” version:
We showed this to Danna and to our clients and referral sources, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Lots of love for the new logo. They like that it is brighter and bolder and they love the “our business is small business” tagline that Tina came up with. We have gotten just one client who said that she loved our old logo and hates the new one. She is in the marketing business. Oh well – I guess you can’t please everyone!
So… Rebranding. Timing is all about the practicalities of your business. Businesses refresh their brands when it makes business sense to do so. When the marketplace tells them that their old branding isn’t working for them. When there are changes in their business model that make their old logo seem obsolete.
But rebranding is still branding. It’s about two things: communicating what you want and need to convey about your business; and also differentiating your business from all the others out there who do what you do. It’s basic trademark law.
I was pretty adamant about there being no columns, scales, law books, courthouses or other legal clichés in the new logo. I also did not want it to be stodgy and conservative, like so many other business law firms. It needed to be serious-enough to not turn off the other lawyers and professionals we deal with – particularly the lawyers, CPAs, financial planners, and insurance agents we want to refer clients our way. But it needed to appeal to our target market of small business owners as well.
I think Tina nailed it. Let us know what you think.
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