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Consider some of the most well-known tag lines: “Coke is it.” “Just do it.” “We bring good things to life.” What do they have in common? They’re pithy, memorable and, most of all, created to sell a product. These are the same traits that good law firm tag lines must have, according to Larry Bodine, a strategic marketing consultant based near Chicago, who runs The Law Marketing Portal (www.lawmarketing.com). After all, he explains, law firms are products that also need marketing and selling. So the purpose of a tag line, Bodine says, “is to state your unique selling proposition succinctly. If you can say in a few words what the firm is about, that is extremely valuable.” BRIEF, BUT MEMORABLE While it’s common for firms to have tag lines, the difficulty is coming up with a memorable one — especially because law firms sell services, which are less tangible and harder to describe than a soft drink or an athletic shoe. Bodine cites as a good example the tag line adopted by Chicago firm Novack and Macey: “A high-powered litigation boutique.” “Do you have any doubts or questions about what they do?” Bodine asks, answering his own question, “No.” Good tag lines are brief and include action words and “something colorful that evokes an image, a picture or tugs at an emotion,” he explains. “You either see something in your head or you feel something.” New Orleans firm Adams and Reese used to use the tag line “A law firm for today’s Gulf South.” Bodine liked that one. “It tells you where they operate and that they’re up-to-date,” he says. Chicago-based Baker & McKenzie, with more than 3,000 lawyers, also has a powerful tag line: “One world. One firm. Connected.” “That’s the perfect tag line for the largest law firm in the world,” he says. Bodine has opinions on some other firm tag lines. Atlanta’s Butler, Wooten, Fryhofer, Daughtery & Crawford’s line, “Full Justice for Real People,” is effective, he says. “It sounds like they’re going to fight for you.” But he calls Atlanta’s Chamberlain, Hrdlicka, White, Williams & Martin’s tag line — “Practicing with Vision. Delivering Value — lame. “You could put that on a tow-truck company or a bakery,” he says. But Richard Walleshauser, the firm’s Atlanta marketing and recruiting director, defends the slogan, saying, “We are very serious about delivering value to our clients. That’s where the tag line came from.” BLANDNESS IS THE ENEMY “Ambiguity is bad for tag lines,” Bodine explains. “A bad tag line is one you could take off the law firm and put on any other business,” Bodine adds, citing another firm’s tag line as an example: “Trust. Commitment. Integrity.” “That’s not memorable — it’s generic. Blandness is the enemy of a good tag line,” Bodine says. So is underutilization. “You’ve got to use it all the time,” Bodine explains, on business cards, Web sites, stationery, printed marketing materials, proposals, advertising and all firm material. And you have to use it for years. Persistence and longevity really make a difference because people have short attention spans. The best tag lines also are created by individuals, not committees, according to Bodine. “There should be one person who makes the decision, the marketing partner — someone who knows the firm and has marketing savvy,” he adds. “Maybe you have a group meeting [and do focus groups with clients] but one individual should pick it. Time to see if that tag-line creator at Coke or Nike or GE has some ideas for law firms.

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