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August 12, 2011 Practice Points

Branding for Solo and Small-Firm Practitioners: Consistency is Key

By Virginia Sierra

In the name game, small firms have lost sight of what is important: building your brand, not building (and rebuilding) your name. In Above the Law, Jay Shepherd advises that creating a brand name for your law firm or incorporating your specific type of practice is a clear and consistent way to communicate what your firm is about.

Small firms tend to forget they are running a business and, when it comes to a name, merely focus on boosting their partner's egos (or their own). Partnerships change, and with it the name of the firm changes as well. The greatest cost here is not that of new stationary, as it seems many firms believe. Adding to and subtracting from the name confuses your clientele and breaks down your firm's brand. Potential clients cannot remember the name of the firm because it has changed three times in the past eight years. Make your name memorable.

Small firm titles with six or more surnames just seem to drag on and, in the end, are abbreviated by the first couple names in the title anyway. So why not nip it in the bud? Create a consistent name—one that stands out and one that embodies what you do and who you are as a firm.

Keep your name the same, brand yourself, and make that name the first thing that pops into a potential client's head when he or she thinks of your practice area. This will help save some stationary costs as well.

Virginia Sierra is with Cohen, Kennedy, Dowd & Quigley in Phoenix, Arizona.

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