What does your law firm logo design say about your firm?
That may not be so easy to answer.
But, whether you know the answer or not, it’s out there (on your website, signage, business cards…) and it’s saying something. Right now.
Your logo isn’t just a coat rack for your name! It has a real job to do.
Just like your favourite suit, the office decor and maybe even an elevator pitch, your law firm logo is integral to first impressions. Its role is to showcase your professional identity. Now you may wonder whether clients and referrers would even be able to grasp that, intellectually. It doesn’t even matter, as long as they feel something…
Hope. Calm. Strong. Safe. Energized. Trust. Understood. Connected…
So, if you’re unsure if your logo is doing that for your law firm. Or, if you’re worried that it might be doing something entirely different. Then maybe it is time for a change.
To help you out with that assessment, we’re going to take a tour of 42 of the most inspiring law firm logos (in our humble estimation!) from the world’s top firms. Often in marketing, there is more to be learned from those who have spent time and money honing in their strategies. Let’s see if that proves to be true when it comes to the legal sector!
At the end of the day, logos are still art and everyone will see something slightly different. That’s actually the point! You are using art to reach a specific audience. As long as the targeted group connects with your intended message, you’ll be one step closer to meeting your practice goals.
A few words about how these law firm logo examples are organized:
To make it easy to scan and find examples that relate to the questions you might be working through about your own brand, this critique is organized around the following seven categories. Please note that where an example fell into more than one category, it was assigned to the one that appeared to be priority:
- International Characters
- Inside a Shape
Disclaimer about this lawyer logo review:
The ideas presented in this review are a response to the law firm logo designs themselves, rather than a factual account of the firms’ actual professional identities. Furthermore, for these branding strategies to actually be effective, they would need to be supported by behaviour consistent with logo messaging, from the first hello to the closing of a file. On that we cannot remark.
Additionally, this critique is based on what we can see online. It is a limited view of a branding strategy, which may also include: signage, letterhead, business cards, brochures, newsletters, presentations and more.
Lastly, I (with some helpful input from my fabulous team!!) specifically chose to critique the world’s top law firms’ logos, as our work at Bekhor Management is primarily focused on small to mid-sized firms. This prevents any bias or conflicts of interest in our commentary. We are not associated with or sponsored by any of the firms discussed in this article.
Please also note that the images and trademark quotes presented in this article are for the purpose of editorial and information.
LAW FIRM LOGO DESIGN CATEGORIES:
CATEGORY #1: WORDMARK
Baker & McKenzie – Two tones of red deliver a message about subtlety and sophistication. The deep red is used widely across the legal sector and presents as conservative. But the friendly, orange / red feels fresh, warm and welcoming. Together, it’s a balanced message. As well, the combined treatment of solid weight and stacking creates the illusion of heavy, stone steps, delivering a message about climbing (and possibly a literal reference to a courthouse). The placement of the period is also interesting. It provides visual follow through. It is comforting, yet final.
Linklaters – Deceivingly, simple and clean, at first glance. But, deep pink is a bold and out of the box colour choice for this sector. Also, the font is quirky and memorable with its open spacing and modern serif font. If you take a closer look, there is a subtle layer of fine detail around the L. It has an almost human element to it. For that, it is unusual. The about us page makes a point that ties to this creative law firm logo, nicely:
We want to stand out for our distinctive Linklaters mind-set so our clients want to work with us above all others.
Morgan Lewis & Bockius – A newsy typeface reminiscent of historical media headlines, this law firm logo design conveys a message about being “in the know”. It works in synergy with the positioning message on the home page:
we’re always responsive and always on
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett – Simple and subtly designed with tone-on-tone earthy colouring and a formal font. The names are stacked in an offset pattern creating a balanced shape, no matter how you look at it. This law firm logo image communicates purposed movement. As well, the earthy tones are comforting and put the reader at ease.
Mayer Brown – The font and layout deliver a message about formality and the understated diamond refers to striving for excellence. It’s a subtle and refined wordmark.
Jones Day – The odd jutting out pattern created by this law firm logo image is reminiscent of the shape of a map, playing up the firm’s tagline: “One firm worldwide”. There is, as a result, total harmony between the logo and tagline.
Baker Botts – This inspiring law firm logo seems to be having fun with the visual appearance of the mathematical formula for a square root. There’s a seeming pun in the square being, well, a square! It’s a message about efficiency, reach, power and influence. According to wikipedia:
In mathematics, a square is the result of multiplying a number by itself
Ashurst – It’s hard to read. But it creates an interesting form. This example illustrates how logos do not need to be complicated, or have much embellishment, in order to have impact. Overlapping lettering tells the reader a story about unity and efficiency. Its footprint almost resembles a train car, rather than a word. Sure enough, the about page specifically speaks about integration as a point of difference:
A uniquely integrated team bringing together three fundamental areas of legal service innovation – resources, process and technology.
O’Melveny & Myers – Resembling a telescope, this modern law firm logo seems to be delivering a message about focus as a means to success, particularly effective in combination with the firm’s tagline: “achieve”.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman – This is an interesting departure from the traditional, approach to a wordmark in this sector. It’s an striking font. It’s also quite visually distinct from the food brand of the same name, which is a very good thing! The font is so stylized that the overall footprint for the logo looks like a banner. Overall it’s a creative law firm logo and it seems to reinforce the firm’s message about being “forward-thinking lawyers”. We thought the shape was stronger and the lettering was easier to read, without the gradient used on light backgrounds, however (not shown here).
Osler Hoskin & Harcourt – A great law firm logo example to illustrate that simplicity can have impact. The customized font has a sweeping R which almost reaches out to the reader. It seems to be a message about accessibility. The drop caps treatment (caps with different sizing) combined with very subtle, serif edging communicates a message about strength and confidence. It’s not just simple. It’s powerful. Interestingly, as their colour, they chose deep red, a traditional colour for a law firm logo image. But within the context of a customized concept, this colour selection seems to be by design, rather than by default. It’s an intent to establish balance.
Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen & Loewy – The arrow in the O aligns beautifully with the delicate etching of the other letters, almost giving it the energy to take off and fly. Also, reminiscent of a compass, the subtle arrow in this law firm logo design supports the key message on their services page:
You tell us where, when and why. We’ll tell you how. From individuals and small local businesses to the world’s largest companies, we support all of your immigration needs, all over the world.
Blake Cassels & Graydon – The only script treatment on this list. A rare choice for a law firm logo image. A memorable script font that seems to suggest a personalized or signature touch. That message lines up with the firm’s number one guiding principle:
UNPARALLELED CLIENT SERVICE
Bird & Bird – While it’s a classic layout for a wordmark, this is a very strong law firm logo example. For the names, they chose a contemporary serif. It’s a simple and friendly, upper / lowercase setting. The ampersand “&” is a different font, however. The choice to employ two fonts and colours adds interest and friendliness. The site extends this effect.
CATEGORY #2: SYMBOL
an allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems
Herbert Smith Freehills – Fantastic. One of the most inspiring law firm logos on the list! It’s graceful and dynamic. This is an abstract icon, open to interpretation. It’s a refined symbol, with a strong text pairing (think chocolate and wine!). It seems to refer to the globe and the people around it all working together as a united force. It also could be read as a human eye, in reference to its people. Either way, our interpretation fits with this line from the about us page:
bringing together the best people across our 26 offices, to meet all your legal services needs globally
Squire Patton Boggs – A visually distinct icon referring to a globe, an orb or a star. We would have liked to see the font and setting more matched, however. Interestingly, the logo is a somewhat, literal illustration of the firm’s tagline:
Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe – Great font choice, including the decision to remove the dot and create a memorable “k”. It’s also a pleasing colour palette. The icon is reminiscent of a drill bit or even a camera lens. It speaks to focus and unity, messaging which is entirely aligned with the the firm’s choice to service a niche market, as a global firm.
Proskauer Rose – This law firm logo image is a literal reference to the firm’s tagline.
so you’re never standing still
Seyfarth Shaw – This inspiring law firm logo design is a wordmark with a secondary, supporting graphic. The icon is also presented in various, creative iterations across the campaign. In a bold move that builds on trends in the marketplace, the icon is an artistic reference to efficiency, transparency and moving forward, while also acting as an acronym. “The Seyfarth Advantage” combination is well balanced. More on this from the about page:
At Seyfarth Shaw, we are leading the way to deliver legal services more effectively, more efficiently, more transparently.
Pinsent Masons – This is one of the most inspiring law firm logos on the list! We loved the icon, but thought there could have been a better match for the font. The abstract design is, of course, open to interpretation. The free form shape is dynamic, creating the illusion of flow, movement and energy. The icon was used to launch two sub-brands, to create unquestionable ties to the mother firm. Deep pink is also a daring choice. While a cousin of traditional red, the psychology is completely different for this colour. It makes us feel hopeful and, specifically, this dark, vivid tone also suggests high energy and confidence. The firm’s video (on the vision for their sub-brand Vario) ‘Being bold in the way we innovate’, ties nicely with all of these messages.
Gowling WLG – We love this logo. Just in terms of how it presents, with bright, energetic colours, bold sans serif font and nice detail on the “W”. It reads well on dark or light backgrounds. It could read as a somewhat literal reference to the globe, with a creative twist. The abstract swirls seem to refer to layers of expertise that engage with clients across various markets. Its depth also seem to be a reference to the firm’s history and roots. It could even refer to convergence. Great art, and logos, usually offers the reader more than one interpretation. The icon was leveraged across the website and social media properties, creating a consistent visual identity.
Troutman Sanders – This modern law firm logo seems to be communicating a message about moving forward together, as a diverse team. The green and blue colour palette serves to reinforce that message, with green evoking harmony and blue evoking trust, security and reliability. This is consistent with the firm overview that states:
Diversity is an essential part of Troutman Sanders’ culture and contributes to the firm’s success and continued expansion. The firm proudly supports many initiatives that foster an inclusive environment.
Nixon Peabody – The spikes in a circular formation reach out like fireworks, possibly as a symbol of inspiration and curiosity. They also gradually widen, which seems to be referring to an iterative process that builds and grows, continuously. The green is vivid, contemporary and strategic, as a more literal reference to their tagline: “Legally Green®”. Our friends at Brand New also reviewed this logo.
Crowell & Moring – This law firm logo design seems to refer to a path, possibly one that goes beyond.
Blank Rome – Interesting abstract icon that’s integrated well with the text. The icon appears to be a message about effective, collaboration on a global scale. From the shapes, to the layout and colours, it is reminiscent of the ‘yin and yang’ symbol. More on that from wikipedia below. The logo’s messaging doesn’t appear to be echoed elsewhere on the site, however:
…yin and yang… describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
CATEGORY #3: ACRONYM
Goodwin Procter – The hexagon shaped acronym serves as a vehicle to itemize the firm’s core values. For that it is memorable. Interestingly, it could also be perceived as an open box, a metaphor for working in an open and exploratory fashion. Given that the priority message is about alignment, the friendly, orange and sophisticated grey colour palette seem a fitting choice. We thought it could have been visually clearer without the orange / red gradient, however.
Holland & Knight – It’s a classic law firm logo design with a nice HK monogram.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati – A play on the visual treatment of a scientific formulae, the firm’s acronym is a clever reference to its niche market. This law firm logo example illustrates how simplicity can have impact.
Jenner & Block – Memorable font and nice, optional monogram. It’s a simple layout for a modern law firm logo.
Polsinelli – A stylized acronym. It’s an interesting shape. But we wondered if it would feel less heavy over the “P”, if the icon was thinner. It almost resembles a maze with certainty about getting to the goal. Such references support the headlines on the home page:
Fox Rothschild – Great icon. It’s also well proportioned with respect to the text. While also representative of the firm initials, this modern law firm logo seems to refer to movement. But not in a conventional direction. This message is consistent with the opening on the about page:
Nimble. Entrepreneurial. Resourceful.
Put another way: Chutzpah. Moxie. Grit.
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton – The two tone treatment presents the reader with a twist on the traditional acronym, in a message about partnership. Nice execution. Every individual element is complimentary to the whole, another clever nod to the firm’s culture.
CATEGORY #4: INTERNATIONAL CHARACTERS
Dentons – Purple is normally associated with mystery and alternative approaches. It’s a daring choice for a law firm logo design. Integration could have been a stronger message, if there there was a better match between the font style of the English and Asian characters, however. The directional arrow is a nice touch. The What’s different about Dentons page speaks directly to this point, bringing the whole package together with a united and authentic presence:
The legal profession is changing rapidly and Dentons is leading the way in advancing change for the benefit of clients. We are driven to challenge the status quo, delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value to our clients in new and innovative ways…
King & Wood Mallesons – A graphic message about partnership is delivered through the original treatment of the O’s. The international version works well (shown here). It aligns with the firm tagline (which is unfortunately a bit difficult to read, due to the poor contrast with the website background and fussy, serif font for such small lettering):
The power of together
CATEGORY #5: ANIMATION
Cooley – The only animated logo on the list is deserving of its own category. It doesn’t just get points for bells and whistles. But, in this case, the use of animation reinforces the firm’s tagline and mission, outlined in the firm’s video:
CATEGORY #6: INSIDE A SHAPE
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom – The logo in a box speaks to tradition in the legal sector. However, to switch things up, this is a bright, rather than the more conventional, deep red. It communicates a sense of urgency. Or passion. That’s up to the reader. The colour is fresh, the font is friendly and it feels modern. It’s one of the best law firm logo in a box examples.
DLA Piper – This is one of the most interesting law firm logos on the list, which says something about the firm’s creativity. Two superimposed open ended shapes tell the reader to expect out of the box thinking. It could also be seen as a talking bubble, in a reference to conversation. Open ones. Would it have been even stronger if they hadn’t opted for rounded corners on the icon and font? You decide.
Hogan Lovells – Love the font and the crisp, green. We were wondering if the text should have been white for greater harmony, however. This is a fresh take on the logo in a rectangle approach, because of the associated, animated box on the home page. This modern law firm logo connects well with the firm’s tagline:
Legal challenges come from all directions.
What’s ahead for your business?
K&L Gates – There is an interesting three dimensional effect on the ampersand “&” and letter “A”. It’s a departure from the traditional, law firm logo design in a box, with a friendly, orange background and a high tech looking font.
CATEGORY #7: HERITAGE
Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft – While it’s sometimes presented as a traditional logo in a box, it’s also one of the best law firm logos in the heritage category. It still looks great, with minor font changes over the years.
Sullivan & Cromwell – The choice of Copperplate as the font is very heritage. It’s an academic looking typeface, creating references with history and knowledge.
What does this review tell us about the future for law firm logo design?
Law firms have had a conflicted history with marketing. But they have come a long way in the past ten to fifteen years. In many regards, they lead the way for other professional sectors. This is particularly true when it comes to blogging, twitter, LinkedIn and even, recently, video and podcasts. Lawyers are, after all, quite comfortable with the spoken and written word.
The question is, are law firms also getting more strategic with their brands? And, specifically, will smaller, more nimble firms adopt branding to further level the playing field, as they have done with other aspects of their marketing?
Communicating difference used to be considered risky business. Now it’s simply good business! Which firms will take advantage of this opportunity for a running head start, with an inspiring law firm logo?
At Bekhor Management, our approach is focused on what really works to build and enhance small to mid-sized, law firms and other Canadian, professional services firms. We invite you to book an initial consultation to discuss your practice goals.
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