Branding can be an expensive exercise for law firms – like any other commercial operation – but there are lessons to be learned about how to do it right. Take the example of ‘The Big ‘O’, the logo identifying Dewey Orrick.

Branding can be an expensive exercise for law firms - like any other commercial operation - but there are lessons to be learned about how to do it right. Take the example of 'The Big 'O', the logo identifying Dewey Orrick. 2

Maybe you’ve heard about the big “O” — the green one that’s as dear to Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe as the swoosh is to Nike.

When Orrick announced a merger with Dewey Ballantine, the New York-based firm got to lead the new name — Dewey Orrick — but the firm kept the big green O that is widely identified with the San Francisco firm.

“It is a visual representation of the balance of the merger,” said Allan Whitescarver, Orrick’s director of communications.

Creating a brand name is a challenge particularly for firms that must create new post-merger identities or that are stepping into larger arenas for the first time.

Newly merged firms like Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner, Cooley Godward Kronish, and DLA Piper, as well as the pending Dewey Orrick combination, can — with the use of expensive consultants — spend millions of dollars on branding and marketing their new firms.

“As you step up to play in the big leagues, you have to grow beyond the regional image,” said Carl Whitaker, a law firm marketing consultant. “From a marketing point of view, you have to be very aggressive about getting the word out about the new combination.”

For big firms, Whitaker said, the cost is worth it.

“This is high-stakes, high-visibility stuff,” he said. “You have to take your branding and marketing seriously.”

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