Tag lines are trickier than you might expect.
Is your firm “Committed to Mediocrity ™”? (First of 3 posts)
Tag lines are hard – a small handful of strategically selected words that encapsulate everything you stand for and want your target audience to know about you. It’s the slogan that tells your own people how to act, what makes them different, and help them bring in business. Does your firm have one? Does it stand out? Is it unique and memorable? [This is an update to a prior blog post.]
Consider FedEx’s brilliant “When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Nine simple words that tell FedEx buyers precisely what they’re going to get, while simultaneously informing all of its employees what their mission is, and its vital importance.
Law firms tend toward weak platitudes like “Committed to clients” or “Results Matter!” or “When Success Matters!”
These vague “we’re totally awesome” statements makes a firm feel good about itself but aren’t specific enough for your lawyers or employees, or differentiating for your target market.
They apply equally to nearly every firm or company in every industry (when don’t results matter…?). They’re safe, noncontroversial, and immediately forgettable. This makes them very easy for a committee to agree on (“Good idea; let’s tell people we’re smart! That way they’ll all know!”), but they don’t set you apart in a strategic way that generates revenue.
Imagine if FedEx’s slogan was “We mail things.”
Would Nike be as successful if the management committee allowed other executives to red-pencil “Just do it” into “When you need great shoes”?
How would BMW’s vision change if “The Ultimate Driving Machine” became “When You Need a Great Car” or “When Driving Matters!”
Here are some examples of brand-related messages we’ve created that are simple, clear, and catchy. They help define the firm internally and externally. They set the tone and help the firm stand out in a meaningful way. They give the lawyers something to say in new-business meetings when the prospects ask, “How is your firm different?”
They act as the platform for a larger campaign that helps the lawyers sell new business. They aid recruiting by defining the personality type and skill set of the laterals they should seek to hire.
Below are 30 taglines for a range of firms, practices, industries, messages, and strategies.
They are, of course, just a small part of larger campaigns, but their role can be significant in setting the tone, breaking the ice, and helping create a dialogue. OK, maybe they’re not the nation’s 30 absolute best law firm tag lines, there are some other pretty good ones out there, but we think these are a darn good start.
Laner Muchin, Chicago. The world’s most-responsive law firm. A labor and employment boutique where every client phone call and email is returned within two hours, even less in emergencies. That’s a remarkable commitment and deserves a marketing campaign to tell their prospects.
When we met them, the firm was already over 90% effective in their 2-hour-response philosophy, just through culture and habituation — it was simply how their lawyers had always been trained to treat their clients. Although we were astonished to discover this powerful service differentiator, it was so integral to the Laner Muchin approach, that they didn’t fully realize how unique it was.
But before we launched the marketing effort, they also purchased new technology and trained the lawyers and staff extensively to ensure they were near 100%.
It was unique enough that we helped generated dozens of feature stories about them, worldwide. See the Best of Show-winning marketing materials here.
Bigger is good. Smarter is better.™
Schopf & Weiss, Chicago. A high-powered litigation boutique that beats larger firms by finding the uniquely creative, winning strategy. They both compete against and get referrals from, the nation’s largest firms. In some cases, the most paper-intensive cases that require throwing hundreds of bodies at them, bigger is better. When price is the sole consideration, hire the cheapest firm. In the middle 80% of the cases, Schopf & Weiss is the best choice.
Low, Ball & Lynch, San Francisco, CA. Low Ball & Lynch is a skilled insurance-oriented litigation firm with a name so comically bad that most people think it’s fictional, like Dewey Cheatem & Howe. Nope. They’re real.
The name had grown organically, rather than intentionally: Mr. Low founded the firm and later hired Mr. Ball, then later Mr. Lynch, in sequence. So the lawyers didn’t have a great sense of humor about the name, and they’d historically ignored the obvious “Lowball” jokes.
At Fishman Marketing, we believe that when you have a difficult, negative, or challenging name like this (see e.g. StevensVIRGIN below), good marketing can soften the edges — like you get the joke and are confident enough to own it. Here, we took ownership of the obvious negativity of “lowball,” confronting it directly with the tag line, website, and marketing campaign. “Lynch” is too loaded a word to joke about, but Lowball was clearly enough. No way you’ll ever forget their name.
Novack and Macey, Chicago. A small litigation powerhouse with an amazing record of success at trial. The campaign is supported by a variety of small things from nature that are disproportionately powerful for their diminutive size — the beautiful and tiny poison dart frogs that can kill you if you touch them.
Mexico’s pea-sized Tepin peppers that are among the world’s hottest. The 4-inch rhino beetles that can carry 850 times their own weight. The striking golf ball-sized blue-ringed octopus that have enough poison to kill 25 people.
Even the tiny computer chip that changed the world. See the popular and award-winning marketing materials here.
The Art of Law.™
Williams Parker, Sarasota, FL. Sarasota’s largest and oldest local law firm specializes in tax and trust and estates work, particularly for the wealthy elderly retirees who live in heavily arts-oriented Sarasota. This marketing campaign leverages this audience’s love of theater, opera, ballet, music, and other performing arts. Click here to see the other marketing materials.
Goldberg Simpson, Louisville. A dynamic, entrepreneurial, full-service firm. “Full-service” here means the full range of business practices, plus a unique blend of less-traditional practices like both insurance defense and personal injury, complex divorces, international adoptions, hard-core criminal defense, high-volume real estate closings, etc.
With this disconnected collection of practices, the better approach was to market their fast-paced, creative, Type A style and personalities. And this theme was the platform of all their marketing efforts, including events, charitable contributions, sponsorships, etc. See the award-winning marketing materials here.
Putting Imagination to Work.™
Shefsky & Froelich, Chicago (now Taft). An innovative full-service law firm whose culture teaches its lawyers to find the unique solution to its clients’ problems. (Our first slogan was “Imagination at Work,” but just before we launched, General Electric started using it, and we didn’t want to look like we’d copied GE with their enormous marketing budget, so we changed it.) Click here to see the other marketing materials.
Seriously Unbelievable Client Service.™
Sandberg Phoenix, St Louis, MO. Perhaps the nation’s first firm to offer clients a written service guarantee. Their clients rate them an A+ in objective surveys in an industry where overall, clients rate their lawyers barely a C+. At Sandberg Phoenix, they have terrific litigators, and equally terrific client service.
So, how likely is it that a law firm will offer a client-service guarantee? When pigs fly. When lightening strikes twice. When money grows on trees. Or when the Chicago Cubs Win the World Series! Only in St Louis. Click here to see the award-winning tongue-in-cheek visuals.
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