Name-based law firm marketing (“I LOVE that ad! Whose is it, again?”)

Name-based marketing for law firms

(“I LOVE that ad! Whose is it, again?”)

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.  We get what we get.  

was the marketing partner of Ungaretti & Harris [now part of Nixon Peabody].  Rich Ungaretti is a great guy and terrific lawyer, but his uncommon surname is easy to mispronounce and misspell.  Not a marketing disaster, just an added complication.

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. 

1.  Smart & Biggar, “Canada’s largest IP firm,” has an almost comically advantageous name.  In this case you must be careful to avoid appearing gauche or boorish, but 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:


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.”)

2.  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’s hard to miss and easy to remember.



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

Even misspellings can work.  

3.  Wisconsin’s Whyte Hirschboeck [now part of Husch Blackwell] could have used “white” to morph its website to something more memorable, like this:

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 considered this direction for Fishman Marketing and ended up with this creepy and thoroughly unusable Fish-Man, below. We did subtly use a fishhook in 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 50-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.”

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


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