Naming and law firms is always a contentious issue, particularly for smaller practices, with partners prone to wanting their name in there..somewhere.
The worst examples of business naming happen within law firms. We’re not going to give you examples, but have a look around. That said, at times, upon the exit of the old partner whose name was the firm, younger partners see it as an opportunity of a complete rebrand. Now the topic of rebrand is one for another day, but let’s stick with the naming for a moment.
Should We Change the Name of Our Law Firm?
There can be plenty of reasons why you may want to, but brand renovation can happen while keeping the name in-tact. Invariably, the motivation to change the name in these circumstances comes from that innate characteristic to make it your own, not to mention, there’s always been something within some lawyers about having their surname somewhere.
The question, should you do it, needs to be considered in the context of what we call the brand story.
What’s the Law Firm’s, Brand Story?
Your law firm’s brand story isn’t just what you tell people it’s also what they believe about you based on all the signals your brand sends. The story is a complete picture made up of facts, feelings and interpretations built up over the years that the law firm has operated. If your law firm has been around for a long time, then within the legacy will be important story attributes. In this context, authenticity is a great strength.
Let’s look outside law firms for a moment and talk beer. Why did the Lion Beer Company in Australia buy the licensing rights to the name “Furphy.”?
Because Furphy has been around since 1864. One product, stamped in the national psyche was the Furphy water cart and tank, which became a very popular piece of machinery throughout the Victoria agricultural industry. It later found its placing on the battlefields of World War 1.
The reasoning behind Lion’s decision, similar to their decision to licence the name James Squire and build upon the brand accordingly, was the brand story. Now, Lion acknowledges that the story isn’t known to everyone, but they’re launching a national campaign, “WTF, What the Furphy” to tell the story.
Why are we telling you this? Because heritage is important and brands that don’t have it, often want it at whatever the price!
What’s the Relevance for Law Firms?
The relevance is don’t be too quick to throw the baby out with the bath water. You may be oblivious to the depth of resonance your law firm’s brand has within your community. We did a rebrand of a firm that was established for over 100 years, smart enough not to change the name, but we went to work with the firm on the aesthetics. Even that stirred up some diehards in the community who felt that the “brown and gold” were iconic and sacrosanct and posed the question, was the firm selling out?”
How Do We Do That?
Do you really understand the story? We’re always surprised in our work with firms on brand strategy when we ask the MD or MP to tell the story that so many people within the firm didn’t know it. Shine Lawyers, a National Personal Injury practice in Australia, take it to the next level, and spend days on it, even hiring a bus and touring the town of which the firm started and the landmarks in the community.
The impetus to rename and then create a new brand out of nothing can seriously be challenged when there is greater awareness and appreciation of what’s gone on before! Be very, very careful and examine your real motivations for wanting to do this work.
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