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Good branding is more important than ever, and while a logo does not equal a brand it is usually the place most companies begin. Your company’s logo is a powerful symbol that offers significant information about your style, approach, and overall philosophies. Logos are meant be powerful symbols to help raise your company’s visibility, credibility, and, most importantly, its memorability.

This information is  usually communicated in milliseconds and should be recognizable from a distance.  As a result, the choices you make require the ability to consider the design challenges of scalability, variation in slight color differences, tiny details within fonts, and iconic symbolism. As an example, consider the power of the Livestrong yellow band from a distance, the blue Tiffany box, or Batman’s bat symbol in the sky.

Most law firms I work with usually balk at the idea of a logo and put their name in a tired font (Times New Roman) in all caps. While I agree that law firm logos do not need to be complicated it is still important to develop a brand for your firm that can help to inform and ensure consistency throughout all your marketing materials. In the long run, a firm can save time on future projects by spending the appropriate effort and money on a good logo.

Where to start

In a word: research. Spend time developing a good definition of what your style is and what you find appealing. Keep folders of inspiration and images that you find pleasing, brands that you frequent, stores or companies that speak to you, and styles that define you. Then look at what your competition is doing. There is nothing worse than bringing to life your vision only to find out it has all been done before. A small business owner is fighting for a small piece of real estate in a highly overcrowded market. Doing thorough research on who his competition is and how they project their brand image is the first and most important thing for a small business owner.

You are a professional. So hire one.

Designing a logo takes experience. Some of the best logos appear very simple, but  it’s no easy task to take everything a company stands for and bring it down to a single graphic representation or symbol. The bottom line is an amateur logo design could only hurt your business. The website Your Logo Makes Me Barf does a good job of illustrating my point. It is always best to hire a graphic designer who understands how to convert concepts into visuals, whose work you admire, and can work within your budget. Or better yet, find a good designer who’d be willing to barter for your services or products. Look for a designer who has a good grasp on marketing, understands brand culture, and has a proven methodology with other small business clients and a portfolio to back it up.

What makes a great logo?

Avoid the predictable trends, forget about what others are doing, and create something that uniquely represents your business. Remember that your actual business will be the ultimate draw, not the logo. A logo that has heart and the ability to connect with the viewer can and always will cut through all the noise. In order to find out what the trends are, refer back to your research and notice commonly used elements – then avoid them. There are also a few good articles about logo trends: Mashable has a great one.

Promises and Symbols Require Repetition

Now that you have your logo and symbolic color scheme, unleash its power. Make sure to have variations on your logo – square icons for any social media applications you use, a favicon on your webpage, a version for either light or dark backgrounds, etc. Be sure to use your logo and brand as much as possible. One way that brands build and grow is by being there, and being there repeatedly. Batman showed up every time the signal was lit. How do you repeat your promises? Live them. Be there. Be useful. Put out good media. Be at every event that you need to be at to grow your firm. Help as many up-and-comers as you can. Now you have a great logo and are building a great brand.

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3 Comments

  1. Viceroy of Vomit says:

    Thanks for the shout out.

    Careful about the bartering bit, though. The best results are going to come from designers that are as professional as you are — that means they have a steady practice, lots of happy clients, and aren’t going to go hungry if they don’t get your business. That’s not to say that you can’t or shouldn’t find designers that need your services, but unless you’re in intellectual property or small business law, you’re probably just going to have to spend real actual money on it. If your firm has never committed to a logo in the past or are just starting out, find an identity designer that can do your whole system at once, meaning business cards, letterhead, envelopes, logo, etc.

    This will be controversial but if the person offering to do your logo and identity is also offering to design your website, your brochures, and wash your car, best keep looking. Spend some of that big fancy lawyer money on a real honest-to-god Graphic Designer that specializes in branding and identity.

    Here’s a great (bad) example of the kinds of awful logos legal organizations often end up with:

    http://yourlogomakesmebarf.com/2009/08/06/mad-libs/

  2. Troy Pickard says:

    I went with a logo from the start. The sword goes along with my “defender” theme, suggesting that law is often like combat and that I am equipped to fight for my clients.

  3. This is a fantastic article – great for attorney’s to read, but also good for us agency folks who are working with prospective clients to demonstrate why corporate identity and logo development is so important. The line about consistency across marketing efforts is great.

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