How can you (safely) shorten a law firm’s name?

by Ross Fishman

Below are two logos – before and after the redesign, obviously.  Note, they’re exactly the same width. 

Which one stands out?  Which one are you more likely to notice and remember?


It’s obviously the right decision, there is no scenario where the top version is a “better” or more effective logo than the new one below it.  There are too many equal-sized names, and your brain can’t process all that visually similar information.  There’s no focal point, so your eyes don’t know where to go.  If you put it on tschotchkes like a hat or mug (see mock-ups below), or used it on business cards (also below) or a website, there’s a clear contrast.  If you looked away, you wouldn’t remember the firm’s name.

But the bottom one with the larger name helps the reader.

And that’s what a good logo is supposed to do.  It tells you what to remember, how to find them.  You know what to call them.  Which of course is the whole point – it’s a strong, interesting, unusual, and memorable name.  It’s what The Street has always chosen to call them – either “Lugenbuhl” or “The Lugenbuhl Firm.”  But changing a logo to reflect that reality is still extremely difficult.

Executing it requires teamwork.  Commitment to the firm.  Trust.  Strong leadership.

Here, Messrs. WheatonPeckRankin, and Hubbard are all still practicing.  They’re dynamic lawyers with great practices, leaders in their various industries (marine, bankruptcy, environmental, and energy). The latter Name Partners must have the professional security, integrity, and confidence to allow their names to be reduced in size compared to the first lawyer’s.  They all have to sublimate their egos for the sake of The Firm.  They must understand and accept that enlarging the first name over the others isn’t a comparative value judgment.

It doesn’t suggest that Mr. Lugenbuhl is “better” than they are. 

It’s not saying he’s more important, smarter, more valuable, or better looking.  It’s just that his name was first on the door and that having too many names of equal visual weight simply makes no strategic sense. It makes it harder to grasp visually and remember later, which hurts everyone’s business development.  The only possible explanation for keeping a design like this is the ego and insecurity of the latter-named lawyers.

And that’s not an insignificant thing, especially not in a professional-services firm.  In a law firm, having your name on the door is the brass ring.  No one screws with a lawyer whose name is prominent on the letterhead.  Candidly, in their position, I wouldn’t want my name shrunk or eliminated from the logo either.  Regardless, it IS, of course, the right thing to do.

But good for S. Rodger Wheaton, Stewart F. Peck, S. Frazer Rankin, and Ralph S. Hubbard, III.  They did the right thing for the firm.  I sincerely respect their sacrifice.

Here are two business card options with similar layouts.  The point is pretty obvious.


Written by:

Ross Fishman

Fishman Marketing, Inc. on:

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