My name was given to me by my parents the day I was born. In social settings, when I meet people for the first time, I introduce myself by my first and last name. It identifies me as a unique individual and sets me apart from others with the same first name. Going forward, I expect people to call me by my first name. It’s simple and easy to remember.
But how would people react if I were to introduce myself with a string of four or five names? Hi, I’m Alan Edward Michael Walter Singles. Would they remember all of them? Would they get the order of the names correct if they were to introduce me to a potential client? Would their eyes glaze over, wondering when the names would end?
A name is one of the most significant ways in which we identify individuals and companies. If your law firm’s name is hard to remember, it could diminish the overall value of your brand.
A Long Problem
Long law firm names historically go back to the establishment of a firm by its founding partners. Being a founding partner meant your name went on the letterhead and was engraved on the glass doors. It was the brass ring for an attorney. It let people know you were in charge. When the receptionist would answer the phone, she would rattle off a laundry list of names before the caller could get a word in edgewise.
Today, times have changed. Single-name firms are in. That allows the visual brand of the firm to come forward. With the business world’s dependence on technology, a single-name firm also is a necessity. Nobody wants to type in a long URL for your website, email address, or Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.
In addition, a single prominent name for the law firm logo design allows it to be remembered, recognized and used without visually reducing it into obscurity. One prominent name goes a lot further than a series of names that are all the same size.
Whittling It Down
Shortening a law firm name can be a difficult process for younger firms where the founding partners are still alive and practicing law. But ask yourself, when clients refer to your firm, do they stop after the first (or possibly second) name? Most often, I expect the answer is “yes.”
While that exercise can help pave the way for your rebranding efforts, before you adopt the first one or two names as the firm name, you need to ask yourself:
- Are those names unique enough for a strong law firm brand?
- Is there another name out of the group that has more staying power?
- If you go with two names, what combination of the names will flow the best to become the front name of the firm?
This is not about the importance of the attorneys whose names are in the group; it’s about the law firm’s brand identity and being competitive among other firms in your market area. I can understand the positions of the named attorneys on the door. They worked hard and invested their hearts and souls into the firm. But putting egos aside, competing in today's market requires putting the firm’s needs ahead of one’s own. It is the right thing to do.
By streamlining the firm name and developing a memorable visual identity, your firm’s presence will be elevated to allow other aspects of your law firm branding to also fall in place. The rewards outweigh the sacrifice.
Has your firm recently gone through the process of settling on one name, or are you trying to convince the firm’s partnership it’s time to choose the front name? Feel free to leave a comment below, or connect with me, Alan E. Singles, via LinkedIn, Twitter or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.