Law Firm Taglines

by May 24, 2014

What’s Your (Law Firm’s) Line?

Your law firm’s tag line needs to be compelling and memorable. There are lessons to be gleaned from well-known brand taglines outside the legal industry, as well as within. What your tag line needs to express depends on the type of practice you have, and what kind of lawyer (and person) you are. But what is a tagline?

A tagline, also called a slogan, is a succinct phrase, that communicates a powerful brand message designed to resonate strongly with consumers. It’s the short bit of words that sum up what a brand is all about. It’s on every ad for the brand, and, when done right, is an internal rallying cry for the people who work for the brand. A good tagline can extend the reach of your marketing, and give it renewed vigor. They can be concrete or abstract, serious or funny.

A tagline is not a proverb or mission statement, or generic description of what your organization is and does. It’s not a headline, but it is the easiest and most effective way to communicate a new or revised brand message.

Taglines can be used to achieve specific marketing goals, like:

  • Conveying the essential qualities of your brand character
  • Emphasizing the key differentiator or competitive advantage of your brand
  • Aligning your message to a specific audience or target market
  • Promising the fulfillment of a deeply-held need or wish of your potential consumers

A law firm’s tagline has the potential to articulate the firm’s personality and philosophy or it can be more straight-forward and simply define your practice areas.

It Sums Up The Entire Brand In A Memorable Way

Bottom-line: when a consumer thinks of a brand, the tagline is the first words that come to mind. Now, in the old days, taglines were practically written in stone and lasted for decades. Nowadays, not so much. Brands are much more willing to evolve their taglines, more frequently than ever before. It’s a reflection of our hyper-sped-up and rapidly changing society.  Still, great taglines tend to stand the test of time (or at least a few years;).

Your law firm’s tagline can do that as well. But why are some taglines more effective than others? There’s no shortage of opinions on what makes one tagline better than others.

A tagline is the first thought that comes to consumers minds about a brand, and, when done right, it can get consumers to act. It has been said that the best tagline for any brand or service would be the word “free”. Add it to any brand’s marketing, and customers would flock to their door. It’s a facetious saying but it makes a good point. But, when people see your law firm’s name, if they think “free legal services” unless you actually provided free legal services, you’d be in a bit of a quandary.

The point is the best taglines sum up a brand’s unique proposition in a way that practically anyone knows what that brand stands for. And if you stand for something people need, well, that’s where the increased sales part comes in.

Just Write A Great Tagline

To reiterate, a great tagline defines the brand, period. If I said, “Just Do It”, you’d say Nike. It’s one of the best taglines of all time. They didn’t go with a tagline like “Great shoes and sports apparel” for a lot of reasons. They wanted their brand to stand for more. Which it does. Nike has always stood for getting off your behind and getting the job done. Their product helps people do just that. And their tagline sums it up succinctly with attitude. It also works as a great internal rallying cry. And, as we’ve seen, it serves as the foundation for a very wide spectrum of advertising ideas.

A Diamond Of A Tagline Works In Innumerable Ads

What about the tagline “A Diamond Is Forever”? It’s another famous tagline, perhaps not as ubiquitous as “Just Do It”. No doubt, fewer people buy diamonds than sneakers and sportswear.

“A Diamond Is Forever” is the tagline for De Beers. De Beers is a family of companies that dominate the diamond sales, mining, trading and manufacturing business. If you’ve ever bought or been waiting to receive an engagement ring, you’re probably familiar with De Beers.

“A Diamond Is Forever” not only defines the De Beers brand, it provides an anchor for all of their marketing. A great tagline provides the exclamation point for a wide spectrum of advertisements.

One headline De Beers has run, “Of Course There’s A Return On Your Investment. We Just Can’t Print It Here”, is punctuated nicely by their tagline,  “A Diamond Is Forever”. This tagline allows for many different copy approaches to strike at their primary target, men, to motivate them to buy their loved one a diamond product.

Another ad plays off of men’s love of sports with the headline, “Exactly how badly do you want to play golf this weekend?” Again, the tagline, “A Diamond Is Forever” punctuates this line nicely. The ad also plays off how relationships tend to have a quid pro quo nature to them, and implies that a diamond can tilt the scales in your favor for a long time coming.

Another ad:

“Getting rid of headaches since 1888. A Diamond Is Forever.” This ad manages to get in a bit of company history, to boot.

All of De Beers’ ads have as their exclamation point their tagline “A Diamond Is Forever”. When potential consumers see these ads, and buy the product, do they ever question the claim made by this tagline? Forever is a long time. But, no, what consumers see is a investment that will give them solid returns, in many different flavors, for years on end. It’s a powerful statement for a brand, and it gives their advertisements plenty of leeway to have very different conversations with consumers. It also underscores a product benefit – it’s nearly impossible to break a diamond. And isn’t that how we want to feel about our relationship with the one we love?

Words To Live By

Now, let’s take a look at another brand: Harley-Davidson.

The headline in one ad, “May wind be the only product in your hair” is paid off with Harley’s tagline, “Live By It”. The tagline equates the brand’s product not simply with machinery, a motorcycle, but with an entire way of life. This tagline allows Harley to get emotional and touch different targets in different ways.

In another ad, featuring an attractive woman and her Harley, the headline reads “Do this. Don’t do that. Do this. Don’t do that. Blah, blah, blah.” and is accentuated by the Harley logo and the tagline “Live By It”. Harley’s tagline tells their target to say no to the same-ol’, same-ol’. Different ad, different target, different headline, but same “Live By It” creed.

And, again, in another ad with the headline “Leave behind shoes no man can fill”, the brand gets at the biggest subject known to mankind: life & death and the tagline ends the whole thought with, “Live By It.” This isn’t just an ad, it’s advice on how to live your life!

As we can see, great taglines establish and embody a brand and free up headlines and other communication to explore a wide spectrum of emotions.

Creating A Quality Tagline For Your Law Firm

But, before going any further, let’s take a quick look at how brands come up with their taglines. This will be a simplified look at the process, but, for the purposes of your law firm’s tagline, it should give you plenty to work with.

When you examine what it is about your law firm that sets it apart from your competition, what factors will you land on? Is it the experience of your attorneys? Is it the expertise in certain practice areas? The big cases you’ve won? Whatever the reasons are, when combined together, they will form your Unique Selling Proposition. What ad folks call your “USP”. It’s also called a Point Of Differentiation. And no matter how you put it, it’s a BFD to your marketing. However you sum up what makes your firm so great, you’ll have to come up with a list of reasons to believe the proposition. For the purposes of coming up with your tagline, once you’ve articulated your firm’s Unique Selling Proposition, you can use that to directly create a tagline.

Using the articulation of your firm’s USP as the springboard should make sense. Just try to find a catchy/memorable way to capture it in as few words as possible. Try to get at the emotion, or, at least, the “why” potential new clients should care.

For the brand Fellowes, their products tend to last longer than their competition. Their warranties reflect this.  And so does their tagline, “The World’s Toughest Shredders”. The tagline pays off the imagery they use in their ads, a bulldog, as well. A bulldog is a well-known symbol of toughness. Mack trucks use the icon as well. The whole brand is about toughness and the tagline couldn’t be more honest about it.

Back to when you’re debating possible taglines for your firm, you’ll be well-served to make sure you know what your competitors are using for their taglines. You don’t want to get anywhere near the same wording they’re using in theirs.

Got Tagline?

When you create your law firm’s tagline, another thing to keep in mind is how things are said in popular vernacular. This was something the ad agency working for the California Milk Processor Board seized upon.

The “Got Milk?” campaign, on TV, dramatizes the extreme experiences of what happens when people don’t have milk. And in the print ads, they show how everyone drinks their milk. Even Superman and Batman have their milk moustaches. “Got Milk?” is colloquial. It’s what you’re thinking to yourself as you’re driving home from work. It’s what your kids want is also a Call-To-Action. It prompts consumers to action. And think about how different the effect would be if the tagline was “Drink Your Milk”.

As with any great tagline, we can see how effective it really is by looking at all of the imitators and all the times it’s been ripped off. Always the sign of a great tagline: when we see iterations in other parts of life.

Another great tagline that played a different game with common vernacular came from the iconoclastic brand, Apple.

Think It Through

Think Different. It’s a tagline that would’ve made my high school English teacher cringe. She would have corrected Steve Jobs and said, Think Differently, sir. But it’s a good thing to remember, though more difficult for a law firm to pull off, taglines and advertising in general are allowed to break the rules if it works. How do we know if it works? Probably the same test as used by Justice Potter Stewart with obscenity: we know it when we see it.

And Apple’s tagline worked perfectly for their brand. It summed up what they make perfectly. It summed up Steve Jobs. They didn’t even have to show their product in their ads. And, in it’s own way, Think Different is a brilliant call-to-action.

Think Different provided new opportunities in branding for Apple. It summed up the brand’s philosophy. It got noticed. It was a rallying cry for its employees. And sales soared. It didn’t hurt to have products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad, which were all, at the time of their release, quite different.

But recently, Apple launched a new mini-campaign that stepped away from “Think Different”. It uses a different tagline…”Designed by Apple in California”. This tagline and its accompanying marketing campaign most likely aims at fighting the public relations problem the brand has with having most of their products made outside of the U.S. Does it work as well as Think Different? Does it address the societal issue well? You tell me.

Alright, let’s look at a few more examples from the non-law firm world.

Be Open To Emotional Connections

Coca-Cola’s tagline, “Open Happiness” is a great example of a tagline conveying an emotional benefit from a product. I mean, it’s just a soda. Can it really give us “happiness”? It’s a tagline that conveys everything the brand stands for. All of their marketing carries this same vibe. And it allows the brand to push aside obesity concerns because, after all, what’s wrong with a couple sips of happiness, right?

Now, in terms of law practices, are there emotional benefits that your law firm’s legal representation can deliver to its clients that could be summed up so succinctly and believably? We’ll get to a couple examples in a minute.

The next example illustrates what a brand can do if it wants to direct its marketing to a local market, while maintaining the integrity of it global marketing and tagline. if your firm offers a large spectrum of services, there may be room for a marketing campaign that focuses on just one of the areas, and maybe this marketing approach can inspire you. So, let’s look at what IBM recently did.

Get Smart

As a smaller campaign to their Smart Ideas For A Smarter Planet marketing campaign, IBM launched their “Smarter Cities” campaign. This campaign focuses the brand’s benefits on the city level, as opposed to the global level. They also took the usual marketing media, a billboard, and made it smarter, for their campaign by bending it so it worked as a bench or a rain shelter, providing cover from the elements. Definitely a smart idea. And it’s a great example of how the overall tagline was slightly altered and used effectively in a smaller, localized campaign.

No Need To Gild A Lily

What about brands that don’t have taglines, what’s up with them? Well, there are definitely brands that don’t need a tagline. What brand doesn’t need a tagline?

Well, Maserati, for one. When your brand is either so unique or so ubiquitous, when it’s the only real player in a category, or when you don’t really have any competition, you really don’t need a tagline. In fact, you won’t approach marketing the way most brands do. There are some exceptions, but for the most part, law firms don’t really fall into these categories.

Legally Speaking

Let’s continue now by looking at some specific law firm taglines. Here are three real law firm taglines. These three taglines play off of common notions of how the public views attorneys.

  • “Changing the way people think about attorneys, one client at a time” (Soden & Steinberger)
  • “Lawyers You’ll Swear By. Not At.” (Harris Beach)
  • “The Counsel You Keep” (Greenberg Glusker; also have a blog called Law Law Land that covers entertainment law issues)

These are fresh, original taglines. They are quite different from the usual law firm taglines. And they appear to represent their firms well. But they are the kind of taglines that 98% of the firms wouldn’t, and probably shouldn’t, use. So, next, let’s look at law firm taglines that are focused on practice and geographical areas.

These taglines distinguish themselves by highlighting their firm’s practice and geographical areas. They are unique and separate themselves from their competitors.

  • “Make your ideas untouchable” (Woodward, Emhardt. Moriarity, McNett & Henry (USPATENT.com) Intellectual Property firm)
  • “Damn Fine Litigators” (Foster, Towsend, Graham & Associates, who are expert litigators)
  • “All We Do Is Work” (Jackson Lewis, who specialize in workplace law)
  • “Texas Based. Global Reach” (Jackson Walker)
  • “Extremely Floridian” was the tagline for Gray Robinson, who have over ten offices in Florida, but they’ve changed their tagline to “Ingenuity At Work”.

Some of these work better than others, and I’ll leave it to you to decide which are which. Ask yourself, what makes certain law firm taglines better than others?

The best law firm tagline can help an unknown firm define itself. It conveys the law firm’s unique selling proposition, it clearly states for potential new clients why their firm is the best choice. It differentiates itself from the competition. And, sometimes, it touches an emotional chord.

Now, here are some more, shall we say, challenging, law firm taglines. Some of these have been changed by the time you read this. But they each had their day.

  • “Unusually Good” (Levenfeld, Perlstein)
  • “We Do One Thing – Labor & Employment Law – So We Have To Do It Well” (Littler Mendelson) They’ve recently changed it to “Employment And Labor Law Solutions World-Wide”
  • “Always There” Brownstein, (Hyatt, Farber- They’re no longer using this)
  • “Right There With You” (Chuhak & Tecson)
  • “A Law Firm That Really Moves” (Goldberg, Simpson – Now, their tagline is: You have questions, our lawyers have answers)
  • “Not Just Any Law Firm” (Mischon)

You can decide whether these taglines work hard enough or not.

Have Pun, Will Travel

Lastly, here are a couple law firm taglines that utilize puns. Taglines with play-on-words can tend to make people groan. On the rare occasion, they work brilliantly.

  • “Making A Difference Is Our Practice:” (Dunkiel Saunders)
  • “It’s Not A Common Practice” (Ervin, Cohen, Jessup)

These fall somewhere in between. They’re not groaners, nor are they brilliant. Puns, if not handled deftly, have the tendency to make a law firm seem less serious than they probably should, although I think each of these are fine and probably stood out IN their individual markets.

Tag, You’re It

Now, what about coming up with your own tagline?

First, be aware that some marketing writers are currently wondering whether taglines have the same efficacy that they had in the past. One school thinks not. Another thinks, yes, they have a great value. And a third thinks that brands need a tagline that they can continually evolve with the times.

Nike’s vp of digital sport, Stefan Olander, recently said that the relationship between his company and customers has changed so much that their legendary tagline almost no longer applies: Olander said, “People now demand us not to say, ‘Just do it.’ They say, ‘Help me just do it.’

For our purposes, the takeaway is that no tagline, not even “Just Do It,” is written in stone. So, if you don’t feel like your law firm’s current tagline is working hard enough for you, change it. It’s a fluid part of your marketing. Ideally, you create a tagline that works well, at least, for a few years, maybe longer.

So, moving forward, when your firm addresses its tagline, be sure to consider the following:

  • Be sure to clearly identify and agree on your law firm’s unique selling proposition.
  • Articulate the tangible reasons to believe your selling proposition.
  • Clarify what you want your next round of marketing to achieve.
  • Keep in mind what your competition is up to.
  • Do a little research with your proposed tagline before letting it launch. Sometimes, a phrase may be very clear to the writer, but may pose questions for new readers.

To conclude, we, at Lawlytics, believe that your law firm’s marketing, when handled adeptly, can be greatly enhanced by a smart tagline. It needs to be as genuine and as unique as you and your practice. And, to be clear, your tagline, and all of your marketing for that matter, is nowhere near as important as the reputation you develop throughout your career. As you build your practice, and develop the reputation you deserve, marketing can help spread the word. All of your marketing can be unified with a single tagline.

Crafting a great, representative tagline shouldn’t require moving mountains. Still, don’t fall for any marketing ploy that “mails it in”, treating your tagline as a boilerplate stock statement. A generic tagline is a forgettable tagline. When potential new clients are searching the web for an attorney, the little things, like your tagline, can make the difference.

If you have the budget, we suggest hiring a professional to help create and guide your marketing efforts. When dealing with marketing writers, emphasize the need for your tagline to capture your law firm’s unique selling proposition, to separate you from your competitors, and maybe even connect emotionally with people. Make sure you at least explore any opportunity to work a call-to-action into it. When someone says, “Just Do It’, you think of the Nike brand. If you told someone your tagline in an elevator, would they know what your firm is all about when they walked out?


For law firms, where there is a ton of perceived parity by consumers, there is a great opportunity to stand out against the competition, with branding that includes a smart, relevant tagline, which quickly states what the firm stands for. Potential new clients will appreciate it as the scour their online choices for legal representation.

Adding a tagline to your law firm’s branding can help you stand out from the firm’s you compete against. It can also provide a place to start conversations for your employees when they are talking to  people about our practice. And it can help focus the rest of your marketing. A good tagline can help breathe new life into your branding materials. Taglines are the foundation for anyone writing for a brand, even if it’s a law firm.

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