An Uncommon Spin on Law Firm Branding
In the midst of our branding and website work for St. Louis law firm Capes Sokol Goodman & Sarachan, we had a lively debate about the nature of attorney advertising.
The debate wasn’t internal – it was with a lawyer and friend (from another law firm), who happened to come to Business Prom and started asking about the kind of work we do here at Atomicdust. Her contention was that lawyers shouldn’t have to market themselves, because they’re all bound by the laws. So their messages should be the same.
To that, we say hogwash. (As did the United States Supreme Court way back in 1977, when it ruled that advertising by lawyers is legal – although the court didn’t use the term hogwash in its published decision.)
The greatest opportunity comes from having perspective, and we discovered our client had it in abundance. Plus, as we started our branding program, we saw that they were a firm in transition. Founded by just a handful of lawyers almost 15 years ago, the firm had more than tripled in size and, in the process, build a tremendous national reputation in a variety of legal specialties.
It was time for Capes Sokol to break out. (Yes, our first step was to recommend a simplification of their name, to Capes Sokol. It’s what people call them anyway.)
As we interviewed members of their team, we learned a lot about their process. It’s all about working together, rather than in silos or segments like many firms. This collaborative, multifaceted approach allows them to see every situation from a variety of legal angles – all to help uncover compelling, even creative, solutions for their clients.
We take a similar, collaborative approach at Atomicdust. As we explore a client’s brand challenge, we start by trying to explain it to each other. The more we talked about Capes Sokol, the more their approach seemed like common sense. But from talking to their clients, it’s actually an unusual way to practice law.
So common sense is not so common after all. You might even call it… Uncommon Sense.
The theme shows up in our new graphic identity for the firm, which echoes a constellation. The message, in essence, is that when you see things from a new perspective, and when you have the right pieces in the right places, it’s amazing how everything connects.
Every element of the website is designed with intention and meaning. The arrows and dots are not random, but are designed to lead visitors through the page to key pieces of content.
We took the same approach to photography. Atomicdust photographers spent several days in the Capes Sokol office to capture the people and the environment that make Uncommon Sense possible. This close-up approach allowed us to maintain a clean, consistent, professional look across the site, while giving each attorney’s personality the chance to shine.
Of course, a website today isn’t complete without a regularly updated blog – and the entire team at Capes Sokol embraced this idea. While they had a smattering of content on their old site, they have fully committed to sharing their perspectives and insights with the world.
We built the site to showcase this new commitment, placing featured blog posts on the homepage and then practice-area-specific posts on each individual page. It’s not a revelation in our world, but it was for them – and in many ways, it is a fresh approach for the legal industry.
Yes, there are interesting challenges in branding a law firm, especially in an industry where success and prestige are often measured by university degrees, industry publications and, of course, court decisions, settlements and verdicts.
Rather than using this as an excuse to roll out a me-too website, we are thrilled our client was willing to walk away from convention and create something that truly matches their uncommon approach. See more on the Capes Sokol website.