How Many Firms Do You Know From Their Logo Alone?

Every day we are beset by an assortment of text, icons, images and sounds. Most of it clutter and distraction. Amongst the noise, brands must speak with clarity and purpose. That’s harder than ever.

Fortunately, buyers of B2B services are no different from B2C consumers; they and we, are influenced by our emotion responses to what we see.

To convey your identity and its message you should use every tool available. So, it’s always surprised me how many firms limit themselves to text alone when it comes to branding. There are many elements that trigger emotional association in people’s minds. Besides names, the likes of colour, shape and dimension play a powerful role in influencing people. Yet few firms have utilised something as simple as a logo to reinforce positive associations and work to generate recognition and recall. So many are missing a trick.

Scanning the top-100 UK law firms I can find only 10 firms that have adopted an icon of some sort that can act in place of the firm’s name, a short-cut to meaning. I’ve discounted those emblems that are effectively just monograms – including initials is a bit of a cop-out visually. If the logo doesn’t confer the identity without the initials then it’s not earning its keep. And that is ultimately what a logo should do: eventually become a piece of intellectual property, of value to the owner.

To test that concept and your knowledge, how many of these do you recognise?

Firms 1 and 3 are by far the most unusual in the law firm visual identity universe: both figurative whereas most others are purely abstract. I don’t know the full story behind the archangel but I’ve read it’s the from the founding partner’s family crest. Certainly, as an image it’s appealing to the idea of a guardian or protector, which is an ideal tie-in for a firm of solicitors.

Firm 3’s cat I’m told is a domestic one, however, I can only see it as predatory. Although a traditional choice in many industries, it must have taken some courage to select an animal to represent the firm. There are different connotations attached to any creature, good or bad. As far as cats go, both big and small look cute but could potentially savage you. In the end though, that image does make them stand out.

As for the abstract ones, there’s a preponderance of circular shapes, Firm 2’s being the most even-handed. To me, it conveys balance and equality in representation. There’s a sense of being complete. In fact, I could give you reams of waffle interpreting the meaning of a blue circle but I’ll spare you that. It’s a good logo.

Firm 4 has gone for subtle and commonplace. It worked for Accenture and it seems to work for this firm too. Also easy to find on your keyboard is Firm 5’s choice of the ampersand. Plenty of firms have one as part of their name but this firm deploys it in some neat ways in promotional materials to such an extent that it can stand alone.

Firm 6: surely that’s a reference to the sort of wax seal you’d get affixed to a legal contract? There’s also something slightly endomorphic about it – maybe that’s to add a sense of being human.

Firm 7’s logo is the newest of those here and by far the most trippy. Before the firm’s rebrand they already had a strong visual identity but they achieved that in part with quirky cartoons rather than by having a logo. The kaleidoscope effect seems to be a signpost for creativity. There’s probably not a bigger contrast than with Firm 8. This logo couldn’t get much more pared back. Simple addition I suppose. An easy one to replicate and apply.

Firm 9’s logo is slick. You’ve got that whole infinity loop that locks in a play-button arrow without looking at all contrived. Meanwhile, Firm 10 is trying to hypnotise; it’s got an optimistic sun-rise element to it too.

But enough of my waxing. Here are the answers:

1. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

2. Herbert Smith Freehills

3. Osborne Clarke

4. Norton Rose Fulbright

5. Bird & Bird

6. Pinsent Masons

7. Lewis Silkin

8. Slater and Gordon

9. BLM

10. Blake Morgan

How many did you get? What’s your take? And have I missed any? I’m interested to learn how effective these representations of each firm have been.

We’re launching our latest market research into law firm brand and service performance this Autumn. To pre-order your copy of the report, sign up here.

About the author: Graham Archbold

With Nisus since 2007, Graham has been involved in more than 50 client research projects for 22 different professional services firms.

Pioneering the use of RATER in professional services, most recently he has led client insight studies in legal, accountancy and property. See Bio…