Brevity in branding isn’t new. Examples of this are all around us—from KFC’s origins as Kentucky Fried Chicken to Dunkin’ Donuts’ recent trim down to just Dunkin’. And while the legal industry isn’t known for the speed with which it adopts trends in the marketplace, law firm name rebranding seems to be well upon us.
A recent article on The American Lawyer website points out that we don’t really choose what we’re called. Mintz Levin was being called “Mintz” long before the firm made the formal shift and changed their logo. Here in Michigan, it likely wasn’t Honigman or Dykema that decided to refer to their firms by a single name. Instead, a law firm’s abbreviated name often arises more organically—in the everyday conversations in the halls of the courthouse, at the law school, and in the community. From there, the firm can hold fast to the traditional name or admit to the reality and use the shortened name to its benefit in marketing. And there seems to be more and more precedent for slimmed-down law firm names these days.
The proactive move away from a long list of legacy partner names to a one- or two-name moniker can ease the need to rebrand as partners retire or pass away, potentially cutting down on costs and preserving brand integrity. Further, it can close the door on future expectations to add the names of the new guard to the firm name. This raises the question of whether the current generation of lawyers on the partnership track is okay with giving up their names on the literal (or digital) door, letterhead, and shingle. I guess time will tell.