There was a time when a Latin American law firm would be identified by the names of its founding partners. While some attention might have been paid to the font on the letterhead, and later the website, the firm’s image was largely defined by the reputation of the names above the door.
Today, logos are becoming an increasingly relevant component of a firm’s marketing strategy: the choice of words, the font and its colour are deliberated over at length to ensure the logo conveys the firm’s culture, service style and position in the market. Consider the logos of Latin American firms that have recently undergone a rebranding strategy: from Colombia’s prietocarrizosa, which has merged the founding partners’ names into one word, written entirely in lowercase in a font and colour that evokes the youth and trailblazing brand of facebook, to Brazilian firm Veirano Advogados’ new logo, which consists of a three-dimensional VA symbol that continues to show the firm initials whatever its position, demonstrating the firm’s global outlook and flexibility. The logo is black, white and grey to indicate tradition and trustworthiness.
Alessandri is celebrating 120 years in the Chilean legal market this year and is one of the few centenarian firms in Latin America. While “proud of the firm’s history” and indeed his ancestors who founded the firm, managing partner Arturo Alessandri says the firm was keen to move away from its traditional image. “The way of practising law has changed in 120 years and we believe that we came up with a brand strategy evolving with the times,” he explains. “We have this very strong prestige linked to a very solid past, but at the same time we wanted to add the future, and innovative solutions in adding value to our services.” Through this process, the firm also sought to include its tax and environmental consultancy branches under the same moniker and present a unified Alessandri group to the market. The new branding was therefore geared towards showing “who we are, what we do, and where we are going,” says Alessandri.
Making the switch
Alessandri’s former and new logo
The launch of the brand can be as important as the brand itself, and firms need to plan the process carefully. At Alessandri, the new branding is being rolled out gradually over the year as the firm celebrates its 120th anniversary, while at Veirano, a note announcing its new image popped up to visitors of the firm’s website. For Posse Herrera, the switch took place in one weekend, says Herrera: “We timed everything from when the new webpage was going to be available, how the signatures would appear on the Monday morning, all correspondence, templates… really, everything changed in that weekend. If you arrived at 8am on Monday morning, the logo was the new one, the chocolates on the conference tables were the new ones – the old ones were given away to all the lawyers Friday afternoon on the condition that they had to be eaten by Sunday.
Despite the time it may take and the effort involved going forward, firms maintain it’s a worthwhile process. “[It] is something that every law firm should look at at a certain point,” says Alessandri. “The process of the rebranding is very positive; it gives you a lot of knowledge. The internal diagnosis, the learning process – very positive ideas come out of it.” Del Rio, too, praises the results: “It helped us to focus on how we were viewed by clients and how we wanted to be viewed by them, and helped us very much. It feels like a new era for the firm.” A firm logo and branding approach, however, won’t last forever. A firm’s distinguishing feature today might not be the same tomorrow, and strong branding knows continuity yet evolves with time – if centenarian firms Basham, Olaechea and Alessandri’s longevity continues, chances are these new logos won’t be their last.