Wondering how to rebrand your law firm? Here’s a step-by-step account of how Carter Law Firm became the Geek Law Firm.
One of my big projects this year was rebranding my firm from Carter Law Firm to Geek Law Firm! There’s so much involved in the process, but it’s worth it to make your firm fit with who you are and what you offer.
For clarification, Geek Law Firm is my company for speaking and writing. I’m still with Venjuris for traditional client work.
1. Pick a New Name
First things first: Make sure your state bar’s rules allow you to use a trade name for your law practice. I always knew I wanted Geek Law Firm. I bought the domain in 2011 when I was getting ready to start my law practice, and even considered using it for Carter Law Firm. (Back then, trade names weren’t allowed in my state, Arizona.)
As you brainstorm potential names for your new firm, check if the corresponding web domain is available and also verify that the name you want hasn’t already been registered as a trademark with the USPTO. You will also want to do an internet search to see if anyone else is already using that name.
2. Design a New Logo
Unless you have an in-house marketing team or are a designer yourself, plan to hire someone to create your firm’s new logo and the firm’s colors. Earlier this year, I wrote a post about companies that will create your logo if you’re on a budget or want to consider multiple ideas.
I used a designer, Dina Miller, who I’ve worked with before, and I love her work. She can take the words I use to describe the vibe I want people to get from my logo and depict it visually.
I wanted Geek Law Firm’s logo to show that I take my work seriously, but not myself. I wanted it to be a bit quirky and playful without being childish. And I wanted a sans serif font. Dina created two variations of my final logo: one rectangular and one square.
For colors, I knew I wanted the primary color to be blue. Blue is associated with stability and trustworthiness. It also matches my eyes.
For accent colors, I asked for a green and an orange. Green is the traditional color of slime and what I envision bubbling in a chemistry beaker. Orange is such a happy and vibrant color, and it is also a nod to my undergrad alma mater, Oregon State University, and to Content Marketing World.
Dina, being made of awesome, provided me with variations of my logos incorporating these colors instead of blue, as well as versions with it in all black for situations when I might need a monochromatic version, and ones with the color switched out for a gray.
3. New Website Photos
Most image experts recommend new headshots every one to two years. Most law firms I know use their attorneys’ headshots way longer than that. Even I use my photos way longer than that — as long as they still look like me.
For my new websites (more on that later!), I hired a photographer who doesn’t just do traditional headshots. There’s nothing wrong with those for a traditional firm website; in fact, I encourage it. However, Geek Law Firm is not a traditional firm, so I hired Joseph Abbruscato, a photographer I’ve worked with before.
I wanted photos that would show my personality. Nothing was off the table in terms of posing and wardrobe. I wanted a variety of images with a range of emotions from serious to silly and approachable to I-will-kill-you. And because I also wanted to highlight the fact that I’m non-binary, in some photos I made the non-binary “X.”
4. Hire a Website Developer
I had been planning this rebrand for over a year before launching and had several conversations with the web designer I wanted to work with. We’d agreed on the scope of the project and the price. All we needed to do was sign a contract.
Then he ghosted me.
Thankfully, I knew another designer I liked, so I reached out to see if he had the bandwidth for my project. Unfortunately for me (but fortunate for him), his company was so busy they weren’t taking on new work at that time.
I was out of designers I knew, and I didn’t know where to begin to Google around for someone else. Instead, I reached out to friends who are respected marketers but don’t create websites themselves and asked who they recommended.
These recommendations resulted in interviews with three companies to discuss my needs and proposals for my consideration. While the proposals were similar, the prices quoted were vastly different. I engaged Good People Digital because they were the best fit in terms of a personality match and my budget.
5. Collaborate to Create a New Website
Creating a new website is an investment of both money and time. You are going to have it for years.
I may have had a more active role in creating my website than another law firm may opt to do, but I think it contributed to creating a website I like. For one, I wrote most of the copy on my site. I worked with the Good People team and followed their lead regarding what information should be on the site and where it should be. But I was the one who typed out the text, following the parameters they gave me regarding the scope and length of each section.
If you engage a company to create your website, expect to set aside significant time to review their work and abide by their deadlines for providing feedback. Good People had to prod me a few times to give them feedback when they needed it. Even though my job as the client was to critique their work, I always tried to include compliments about what I liked. Since I don’t speak “designer,” I tried to use descriptive terms about what I was looking for and what kind of vibe I wanted to send with my website.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to speak up when you don’t like something. There were a few times when I had to say I didn’t like part of the site, and one time it was a visceral negative reaction. Their work wasn’t bad, but it was a mismatch with what I wanted to be associated with my brand. Anytime I suggested something that I suspected was outside the norm, I asked them to tell me if what I was saying would be detrimental to my business.
6. Make the Name Change Official
As you can see, there is much work you can do toward the rebrand before you officially change the name of the legal entity for your firm. My unsolicited advice, before you file an amendment or a dba? Call your bank. Originally, I wanted to change the name of my legal entity to Geek Law Firm, PLLC, but if I’d done that, I would have had to close my bank accounts and start over with new ones, get a new credit card, and create a new business in my QuickBooks. No thanks! I filed a dba instead and updated my accounts accordingly, but even that was a nightmare.
7. Other Company Updates
Here are some of the last — but important — things I did to finish the rebranding process:
- Create a new email account for firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m still maintaining [email protected] for now (it’s complicated), so I did not have to set up some type of automatic forwarding to the new email.
- Order new business cards. I kept it simple and used VistaPrint. I liked the cards where the front only says “Ruth Carter, Esq.” and “Not that kind of lawyer,” so I kept that as the front, and added the new logo to the back.
- Update my LinkedIn profile.
- File a trademark application with the USPTO. I’ve put too much energy into creating Geek Law Firm. I’m not going to risk having someone steal it from under me by registering it first.
8. Yes, I’m Planning a Special Announcement
In 2023 I expect to send out around 500 postcards announcing Geek Law Firm (similar to the postcard mailing I did in 2014 to celebrate the Future Birthdate of Captain Kirk).
I’ve solicited recommendations for designers and am still mulling over exactly what I want on the front of this postcard. I’m not sure if it should be one of the photos from my photoshoot. My marketing friends would probably tell me not to worry about it feeling too “me-me-me” because that’s exactly what this is, that’s exactly what it should be, and that’s what my target audience will want.
Photos courtesy of Ruth Carter. Image ©iStockPhoto.com.