Ed. note: Please welcome Christina Gagnier, who will be covering small law firm practice. You can read her full bio at the end of this post.
Branding is often something overlooked by law firms, especially small ones. It has been fairly standard to go the “Smith, Smith and Jones LLP” route, but sometimes that type of branding alone might not work for your small firm. If you are just starting out and trying to differentiate yourself, you may have to get creative, and a bit cheeky, to get some attention.
When we launched our firm, my partner and I went down that traditional branding route and decided to go by Gagnier Margossian LLP. This completely makes sense, and there is a good reason why most firms do it, but let’s be real, it’s an ethnic mouthful. We have French and Armenian surnames and created a hard to pronounce mash-up.
Thankfully, a few years in, one of our clerks just started calling us “GAMA,” and it stuck. GAMALAW, GAMA, and GAMALLP are much easier to convey in a conversation than Gagnier Margossian.
Beyond naming, we had to think about the look of the firm. As a creative, creating a color palette and design guide for the firm was important, so we did a survey of what was already out there. We chose our colors since the combination stuck out, and there were many creative things we could do. Even after making these decisions, getting up our current website (launched in 2011) and working on making our brand distinct, we still did not feel that it was necessarily “us.”
We decided to add a layer of cheekiness to the mix and created three distinct campaigns over the last three years to convey to our clients and potential clients the types of services we offer.
Keeping it Simple
GAMA works with many small businesses and startups. Our first campaign was simply “WE <3 STARTUPS.” We created stickers to hand out and integrated it into our website, social media profiles and other places where it made sense. It resonated with our target audience and made it clear that we work with clients ranging from two developers in a garage to larger companies that still run in startup mode.
We started looking at the bread and butter of our business, the work that keeps the doors open and is always consistent. We found that copyright and trademark work had always been a mainstay, and we wanted to highlight this part of the practice. While we played it safe in our first brand campaign, we decided to mix it up and start a campaign themed “Use P®©tection.”
You know your branding sticks out when you hear from a veteran lawyer, “When I was your age, I would not have had the balls to do this.” Even as a lawyer, you need to take some strategic, creative branding moves if you want attention.
Speaking to Your Audience
After five years of practice, we knew who our client base really was: the tech community. Randomly, one day, my partner Stephanie came up with the concept of “Attorney at Nerd.” From there, we came up with our hashtag, #nerdlawyer. Of all of our efforts, this has been the most successful. It was off the cuff and really speaks to what we do and the interesting and innovative clients we work with.
For small firms, especially those starting out, it is important to remember who your target audience is. They may have no clue who you are yet, but if you want to get in their face, then you need to make sure what you do with your firm brand is respectable and memorable.
Christina Gagnier leads the Intellectual Property, Internet & Technology practice at Gagnier Margossian LLP, with a specialization in social media, copyright and information privacy. She is also at the helm of REALPOLITECH, a digital public relations consultancy that provides a broad range of services, including crisis communications. She serves on the Board of Directors of Without My Consent, combating issues like revenge porn. If you ever need to find her, start with Twitter at @gagnier or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.