By Gina F. Rubel
Just recently, the issue about shorter law firm names came up in a listserv discussion hosted by the Legal Marketing Association. The interesting thing is that this issue has been coming up for years. In fact, I wrote an article in The Legal Intelligencer on March 12, 2003, addressing this very issue.
What I think most legal marketing experts have found who have been around the watercoolers for a stint is that firms should shorten their names – but should do so strategically. Legal marketers know the countless marketing and PR reasons why -- and those reasons have been expanded exponentially with SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing) and social media engagement. However, it’s important for marketers to provide solid reasons and solutions to law firms so that shortening a firm name makes sense.
Eight reasons why a shorter firm name is better :
· Better branding.
· More memorable.
· Easier to say and repeat.
· Easier to register Web site URLs.
· More marketable.
· Supports name recognition.
· Work better with social media and emerging technologies.
· Easier to say in media interviews.
Law firm name changes can be very challenging. Just think, a firm decides to go from four names to two and all four names have been included for several decades since the firm was founded. It’s not an easy decision by any stretch of the imagination. Egos often get in the way of the business decision of having a name that is memorable and marketable. What should be put first are the needs of the target audiences as opposed to the needs of the partners. (The same holds true for the information contained in attorney bios but I’ll save that dissertation for another blog entry).
I was recently in a meeting with the partners of a midsized firm dealing with this same issue and I asked them all to name one brand that came to mind -- each had 10 seconds. Not one mentioned a company with more than two words in its name and the majority named companies with one: Ford, Pepsi, Disney, Nike, to name just a few . In fact, not one named a law firm because the majority of lawyers (in my experience) do not see law firms as brands.
The length of time that it takes to change a firm name depends on the firm culture. We worked with one client where it took nearly six months and we worked with another where it took less than two weeks to change the name, logo and corporate package (I told them they take first prize in efficiency).
The catalyst for the final decision has always seemed to be as follows: the primary thought-leader talks the other decision makers into changing the firm name only after being provided with key talking points, articles, examples and success stories of other firms (especially competition) who have shortened their names and maintained brand integrity while growing their business.
For The Legal Intelligencer subscribers, here are some additional articles on the topic:
...Once the shorter moniker gains popularity...
08/21/2007 Kellie Schmitt
...knows the significance of a name. Before becoming Gibbons Del Deo, the firm was Crummy Gibbons & O'Neill...
01/22/2007 Stephanie Lovett
...the world's second-largest firm, is expected to announce in September that it is taking a new, shorter name to strengthen its international brand...
08/18/2006 Lynne Marek
...a while, but now the short name is official. Howrey isn't the first firm to adopt a shorter, institutional name, and it probably won...
05/16/2005 Brenda Sapino Jeffreys
...except one: what to call the new firm. In keeping with the trend toward shorter legal names, the two Kansas City, Mo., firms had...
03/30/2005 Tamara Loomis
...recent decision to shorten its name. As law firms grow larger, their names are getting shorter. Most notable is New York City...
11/29/2004 Meredith Hobbs
Name-Droppers: Brand-New Day for Blank Rome
...shorter -- name for Blank Rome Comisky & McCauley, which officially changed its moniker to Blank Rome. Blank Rome has become the latest Philadelphia firm...
01/07/2003 Jeff Blumenthal
...pressure to create a brand-name presence, law firms are trading the legacies of partners dead and gone for shorter, catchier titles. Philadelphia...
10/10/2000 Ritchenya A. Shepherd
About the Author: Gina F. Rubel, Esq., is the owner of Furia Rubel Communications, Inc., a public relations and marketing agency with a niche in legal communications. A former Philadelphia trial attorney and public relations expert, Rubel is the author of Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers and the co-author of 6 Essentials for Success in Business and Life. Gina and her PR firm have won numerous awards for legal communications, public relations, media relations, strategic planning, corporate philanthropy and leadership. She maintains a blog at www.ThePRLawyer.com and is a regular contributor to The Legal Intelligencer Blog. You can find her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/ginafuriarubel or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ginarubel. For more information, go to www.FuriaRubel.com.