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Shorter firm names tend to work better.

Firms shrink their logos one of two ways: either use fewer names or initials. 

We worked with a terrific litigation firm, Galloway, Johnson, Tompkins, Burr & Smith.  This had been their logo for many years. It’s a very common logo structure, particularly for firms with four or more names on the door:

Galloway GJTBS giant initials logo

The problem, of course, is that the marketplace rarely refers to a firm by its initials (as detailed previously here), and the giant initials distract viewers from the firm’s colloquial street name. In this case, everyone casually automatically short-hands the name to “Galloway” or “the Galloway firm.” (“He’s at Galloway.” or “She works at the Galloway firm.”)

Of course, no one thinks that the abbreviation means that Mr. Galloway is more important than the other lawyers.  The legal profession resolved that issue decades ago when firms started shortening their logos. It’s a simple matter of a busy world where everyone looks for shorthands and abbreviations. “Galloway” comes first and it’s a good enough word that we can stop there without confusion. So we do. Simple.

When highlighting initials, it can seem logical to use the unwieldy domain name. (Or was it Oh, who can remember? You can’t, and I just showed you the logo three vertical inches and 15 seconds ago.)

So as part of the rebranding process, after a strategic discussion, the lawyers agreed to enlarge the word “Galloway,” to make it easier to remember the firm and find it online.  So we changed the alphabet-soup collection of initials to a more streamlined logo, below.

Galloway NEW logo for blog post

Of course, we kept the rest of the names below it, because that is the firm’s name. And where possible I like to use it. The real point is the strategically simplified is a heckuva lot easier to remember, and the rest of the gang agreed. An added benefit is it let us use the word “WAY” in the marketing, e.g. “That’s the GalloWAY.”  We then overhauled the Galloway website with the new theme.

Here they are, the before and after, at the same width.

It’s fairly obvious which one works best. Take a couple steps back from your computer and consider which name(s) you can still read clearly:

Galloway GJTBS comparison

I’ve written about this Giant Initials issue here, and discussed the accounting industry’s use of initials (KPMG, PWC, E&Y, RSM, UHY, etc.) here and here, including generally why I don’t like it for them either.

We’d rolled it out at a national industry conference where the firm was a primary sponsor, getting their name on the giant screen, opposite a fine law firm that hadn’t yet fixed its identity problem.Galloway Conference initials COMPARISON logo

Do you know this RMKB firm?

Of course not, that’s not what everyone calls them. It’s a well-known and well-regarded firm–just not by its initials. The difference is obvious.  Which firm name will you remember tomorrow? Whose firm will you be able to find online most easily?

Frost Ruttenberg & Rothblatt

Some years ago, we rebranded a terrific regional accounting firm, Frost Ruttenberg & Rothblatt. Like many accounting firms, at some point in the past, they’d looked around and seen many of the close competitors using initials and decided that they wanted to be called “fr&r,” all lowercase. They’d even spent an enormous amount of money to add this to the top of their building:

During the re-branding process, I strongly urged them to reconsider using their initials. They had a terrific name: FROST. It was a real marketing asset: it’s short, simple, easy to spell, easy to pronounce, and memorable. It’s a simple noun that could be used creatively to reinforce their name with their audience.  Cake frosting. Frost on your window or nipping at your nose.

I explained that initials aren’t memorable by dropping their current FR&R logo into a dozen of the competitors’ initials logos. Does anything stand out? Will you remember any of these tomorrow? (Nope.)



Then I changed one of them.

I asked them to see if they could figure out which one I’d changed. Can you tell which one is different?

Of course you can.

Will you remember them tomorrow? Probably.

And that’s the point. Here’s the before and after at the same width, I think it’s pretty compelling:

Don’t you?


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