Should Your Law Firm Logo Include Scales of Justice?

When it comes to logos, turns out the design experts may have gotten it wrong, reports the Harvard Business Review .  After nearly a decade of simple, text-based logos like Google or Paypal or non-descriptive marks like Uber, seems that customers prefer and put their trust in descriptive logos.

A descriptive logo is what the term implies: a design that depicts the brand’s product or service. A logo can transform from one genre to another – recently, Dunkin’ removed the word “donuts” and the coffee cup from its logo, making it nondescriptive.  One reasons brands may make the shift is in an attempt to expand their product base. In the case of Dunkin, it sought to communicate that it was about more than just donuts.

Though I’m not a branding expert, it’s not surprising to me that consumers would favor descriptive brands. For starters, a descriptive icon makes it easier for consumers to understand what a business sells. And perhaps it’s that upfront-ness that also makes descriptive bands appear more authentic in consumers’ eyes. The Harvard Study also found that descriptive brands favorably impacts consumers’ evaluations of brands and more strongly increase consumers’ willingness to buy from them.

However, there’s an exception to these findings. Descriptive logos had a negative effect on brands that market products or services associated with sad or unpleasant things, like palm oil, funeral homes, and bug repellents. For such products or services, the design elements of a descriptive logo bring to mind the negative concepts some consumers associate with them (deforestation, death, and bug bites).

So what does this all mean for lawyers?  Well, for years, lawyers have been told that they should strip their logos of icons like scales of justice or Lady Liberty or a courthouse because they’re either stereo types or just too kitschy. Many lawyers ignored this advise, arguing that without a scales of justice on their card or their shingle, clients would not be able to figure out that they ran a law firm. Turns out, that maybe these lawyers knew their markets after all.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to convey a description of your services in a logo that don’t involve more stereotyped icons. Some lawyers tout their geographic location with their firm name against a backdrop of a city skyline. Firms focused on IP may include a lightbulb or set of gears to show that they work with inventors or protect new ideas.

As we move to a future of  non-lawyer owned firms, descriptive lawyer logos may be more important than ever. Because sometimes, consumers may want more than a Legal Zoom  contract or a legal app but instead, a real-live lawyer. And a descriptive logo may be just the way for consumers to find you.

Need to design a logo?  We have plenty of resources. Check out Do the Logo Motion, free logo tools and a video tutorial  on creating a free logo.