Skip to main content

Shell Oil. Target Stores. Apple Computers. Camel Cigarettes.

These successful companies all selected their names carefully, recognizing that a great name makes their marketing easier.  You can immediately envision their strong iconic logos. The simple name works in many languages. That’s good marketing. 

Law firms don’t have that luxury.  Most names aren’t picked for their marketability. We get what we get.   

Some firms though, blessed with fortuitous names, nonetheless pursue a different path.  But firms that ignore the obvious  not only miss a golden opportunity, they also risk looking dim, like they hadn’t noticed that they’re sitting on a marketing goldmine. 

Smart & Biggar, “Canada’s largest IP firm,” has an almost comically advantageous name.  When proclaiming that you possess positive attributes, you must be careful to avoid appearing gauche or boorish. It’s OK to be self-aggrandizing as long as it’s done with a wink, like you’re in on the joke.  For example, we always thought they should do something like this:

Firms that connect their marketing to their names make their lives easier.  You know that “You’re in good hands with Allstate,” or that “[XYZ] runs SAP.”

We often think,

     “I LOVE that ad! (I wish I could remember what company it is for.”)

Florida-based finance firm Bryant Miller Olive had great visibility within its target audience, but needed to build visibility when it expanded geographically.  We leveraged the iconic “Olive” in a marketing campaign and website (see them here) that are hard to miss and easy to remember. (See their holiday card too!)


Depending on a firm’s style, these types of marketing campaigns can work all-text or supported by visuals.  They can be used to market a firm or target specific industry or practice groups

Near-misses can work too.

We designed this for Flaster Greenberg, when they were trying to build their visibility in a new market, playing up some of their positive attributes:

You can even take advantage of names without positive connotations.

Mark Virgin, one of Vancouver’s top litigators, was dealing with a challenging name. “Virgin” means inexperienced, which is not what clients are looking for in a trial lawyer. It wasn’t like we could ignore it, so we decided to own the name and turned it into a positive. You can read the whole story here.

Low Ball & Lynch

Our favorite firm name was definitely San Francisco insurance defense firm Low, Ball & Lynch.
Many people thought the firm was fake, just a punch line, like Dewey, Cheatham & Howe. Nope, they were an actual firm and pretty nice people (they closed last year). We could have made them internationally famous in a clever and positive way if they’d been willing to have some fun with it. (Call me Payne & Fears and Butt Solicitors!)
But they were a conservative group who weren’t comfortable leveraging their name in that way. So we pulled back with something that was solid but not too far out there. We acknowledged the “lowball” and turned its negative connotation into a positive: Low Ball, High Standards, or Low Ball, High Quality.  And we added a ball to their logo and brand. (I wish I could show you some of the other versions…)  😉

Does your firm have a positive word in it? 

A noun, verb, or adjective that can be used to hook your audience and connect to your larger strategy or message? A gentle touch is necessary; it’s easy to do this badly.  There’s a fine line between creativity and a groan-inducing pun or painful elbow to the ribs (“Get it? Huh? Get it? See the joke?”).  

Not every interesting name can or should be used; it’s just one more idea to be explored while developing a marketing or branding campaign or website. For example, we once considered this direction for Fishman Marketing but ended up with this creepy and thoroughly unusable Fish-Man, below. We did subtly insert a fishhook into our logo to incorporate the “fish” theme,

“Want a good gift for your associates?

“I’ve got the ideal gift idea. Give them Ross Fishman’s ‘The Ultimate Law Firm Associate’s Marketing Checklist,’ a 150-page, well-written, engaging and very practical guide—no, make that, bible—to show associates what they need to do to begin to build internal and external networks and eventually establish a book of business.

“Marketing Checklist offers associates who are early in their careers simple, real-world tips to develop their reputation among the partners at the firm, first, and for more senior associates, it provides tips on how to generate clients.” And buy the companion book for partners, to provide the same education.

– Of Counsel magazine, Editor Steve Taylor’s “Taylor’s Perspective”)