Lawyers, typically, are conservative. If you’re drafting a will, perhaps that’s good. We do not draft wills. Our firm defends clients in times of crisis in federal criminal cases. Most of our clients are other professionals or executives who stand to lose their liberty, careers, or businesses they have spent lifetimes building. So we do not take a conservative approach at Terpening Law. We take an obsessive, aggressive, thoughtful, and hyper-creative approach that works well with the type of high-stakes matters and exceptional clients we represent.
Our logos and our branding attempt to reflect that. As the firm develops, we are constantly trying to improve in this area.
You Need a Logo That Reflects Your Values and What You Do.
Your branding should reflect what you do. For example, if you are conservative will drafters and estate planners, you probably want a conventional look that reflects the solidness and stability people expect from lawyers whose job it is to draft a timeless document that will express their wishes years into the future.
We’re different, and we try to reflect that with the brand. Look at our “alternative” logo above. Some people laughed at it when we tried it out, many people loved it. And for a creative firm like ours, I’ll take the risk that folks laugh at us if it is because we are trying to do something unique and meaningful, consistent with who we are.
The logo is a bear in a truck. What does it mean? The truck conveys our value of hard work, reliability, and a traditional and tenacious approach to litigation. The bear conveys that we try to be easygoing and nurturing to those on our side and others, but we will ferociously protect our clients’ interest when we need to. The “look” of the logo is somewhat of a throwback, because our firm is somewhat of a throwback: our values are those of the true, original zealous advocates. We favor an academic, thoughtful model, where we are counselors to our clients, as well as (increasingly rare) lawyers who like to work in the courtroom and use the trial as a process for resolving matters.
In starting a law firm, as in anything, you have to be yourself and show people who that is. In a conservative profession, dominated by people who like to play it safe, it can be intimidating to be yourself. But if you’re starting a great law firm, you have to do it. There are plenty of stodgy old large law firms downtown. That’s great. Don’t do stodgy old downtown firm if you’re not a stodgy old downtown firm. Clients are looking for something new and better. Be that for them, and show that you are that.
The bottom line is that you need a logo and a trade dress. Some lawyers, particularly cranky older ones, do not see the need for a logo for their firm. In my view, that is completely inconsistent with what anyone under 60 has been conditioned by Madison Avenue and social media to expect.
Your Firm Needs a Face Too.
Your firm needs a face, just as it needs a logo. You want to have the logo out there constantly to express your firm’s values. And you want to literally have out there — on your website, social media, and anywhere else you can think of — the faces of the folks at your firm so that clients can see and better relate to the people who are helping them with some of their most serious needs and problems. Getting a logo and good firm photos are an indispensable part of the first step before you open for business.
Allocate Money to a Good Logo and Firm Photos
This is an area where you should allocate enough of your limited start up money to get a good logo and set of photographs, because it is how most clients and other lawyers will first see you online and elsewhere. But you need not break the bank. Consistent with my advice, throughout this blog, that you should never, ever incur debt to start a law firm, there are services online that will do great logos for you for under $1,000, and in some instances, just a couple hundred dollars. And while you don’t want your official firm photos to be something you take on your iPhone (regardless of how Apple tries to tell you the camera in its $1,500 phone is), look around: your neighborhood will have a person or two who has taken up photography as a hobby and is trying to convert it to a part-time job. Such people are inexpensive (until they become too successful) and very, very affordable. And you’d be doing a good thing to help their business as you start your business, which helps build your firm’s community of supporters and cheerleaders. Which you’ll need, believe me.
Questions? Contact us! And if you like this post, read the other posts about starting a law firm on this blog: here are some, here are others, and here is an explanation of what the blog is for. Check back often!
Will Terpening, Charlotte, Feburary 27, 2019