Put a Gavel on It – Law Firm Branding Cliches

Jeremy Hessing-Lewis

What says “We are a reputable law firm”? What is instantly recognizable as relating to the practice of law? If you’re uninspired, just…put a gavel on it.

Gavel image from Wikipedia

Following the Portlandia skit in which they put birds on things, we ask our designers to “put a gavel on it” only when they’ve hit rock-bottom. Thankfully, we have yet to reach such dire circumstances. Most of our designs tend to be drawn from the firm’s practice focus, the style of the firm’s principals, or a strategic marketing strategy. Gavels are jokes not because gavels don’t make for nice design elements, but because they’re so generic as to be a branding  cliché.

While we rarely hear requests for avant garde designs, we do make a point of trying not to use any of the following law firm branding clichés. Our blacklist includes:

  • Gavels;
  • Courthouse pillars;
  • Scales of justice; and
  • Lady justice.

While the Law Society of BC has not yet prohibited their use, we have our own professional conduct rules. Our clients retain our design services because we believe that a firm can look both professional and distinctive. It tends to take longer and be more expensive, but our clients are all the better for it.


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