What’s in a name? Why some professional services firms are opting for shortened names.

By February 23, 2015Newsletter

Recently, we at d.trio had the pleasure of working with a new client, a law firm interested in rebranding and repositioning itself in a more modern market place.

Although a name change was not part of the original re-branding assignment, it was brought up as somewhat of a sidebar in early deliverable discussions and was deemed worthy to address in our Branding Discovery process. Through our discovery process and preliminary research we noted that shortened names are a definite trend within the law firm community, fueled by firms’ desire for a more sleek, modern, recallable and online-searchable brand. There has been a fair amount of writing on the subject in the marketing press, a great majority of which in favor of more compact brand names.

So why are shortened names beneficial?

  • Historically speaking, consumers prefer shortened brand names to lengthier ones and tend to trim long brand names into shortened ones on their own. In marketing this is called the Nia Effect, also known as the Consumer Behavior Effect.
  • From a marketing perspective, professional brand and naming experts believe brand names acquire meaning, they do not create meaning. Your brand is what consumers tell each other it is, advocating for shortened street names. Most notably in the Twin Cities, Dorsey and Whitney opted for their street name of Dorsey, and Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand shortened their name to Maslon.
  • Looking at law firms as a whole, research states that
    • Shorter law firm names are easier to remember and repeat benefitting current clients and potential clients. It keeps your firm top of mind when seeking repeat counsel or referral business.
    • Shorter firm names support name recognition and corporate branding standards. Shortened names create less confusion from an overall branding perspective; it is conducive to more effective branding strategy and creates more consistency for you corporate identity.
    • Shorter law firm names work best with emerging technologies. In today’s market, web site addresses need to be easy to remember, type and to find for the consumer. Companies with shortened names are also much easier to accurately index with major search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo! From an SEO (search engine optimization) and SEM (search engine marketing) standpoint, the shorter the name, the easier it is for search engines to index your site resulting in higher ranking and easier search-ability.

Rebranding can be a really exciting time for some, but can also cause some internal strife and contention. So if a firm is thinking about rebranding here are a few considerations:

Timing – A firm does not undergo re-brandings on a regular basis so if you’re already considering a re-brand, now is your best opportunity to act on a change. Within the context of a new, refined look overall, the shortening of the name can more easily be viewed as a natural evolution.

Risk/reward. Try to objectively evaluate the real risks and rewards of a shortened name. There are several meaningful rewards to leverage from a branding perspective – are there substantial marketplace risks (or internal complications) to balance against the positives?

Condensing partner names certainly seems to be the trend within law firms and other professional services branding right now. We at d.trio believe there’s no absolute right or wrong answer on whether a firm should shorten its name, it all comes down to what’s right for your brand, the culture and your market. For our client, it seemed like a natural evolution and we look forward to helping them in their transition!

Author 33dtrio33

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