Since 1991, Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman has handled trials and appellate matters in state and federal courts throughout Virginia, Washington, D.C. and the Mid-Atlantic region. HCCW is comprised of down-to-earth, approachable problem-solvers who work diligently together to form one of Virginia’s premiere civil litigation firms. From the receptionists, to the marketing director, to the senior partners — they all exude a warm, welcoming, vibrant demeanor without a trace of excessive formality, ego or legal jargon often associated with firms of HCCW’s stature and experience.
Sounds great right? Unfortunately the firm’s website and marketing collateral did not accurately portray HCCW’s actual culture and brand personality.
While the presence of the firm’s employees and partners was professional, pleasant and approachable, the firm’s branded materials felt very formal, stuffy and dated. Previous brand identity choices seemed to have been made from a cliché law firm palette of navy blue and gray colors, dated serif fonts, marble courthouse columns and impersonal lawyer head shots. Missing was any sense of vibrant energy, down-to-earth communication and emphasis on client needs that make HCCW unique in an industry of sameness.
Research and Discovery
Through discovery session meetings with key HCCW personnel as well as client interviews, we began to develop our key messages and our target audience(s). It was great to hear what actual HCCW clients had to say about their experiences with the company culture. The client answers confirmed that down-to-earth, approachable problem-solver culture did exist. It was then our job to figure how to tell that story visually.
We felt strongly from the very beginning that there were a number of opportunities to make HCCW’s core practice area (civil litigation) more prominent in all materials. This would provide a clear understanding by the desired audience of the firm’s specialty area of expert knowledge and would eliminate inquiries from callers who needed other services. Our main objective was to make the firm’s core practice area exceedingly more apparent throughout HCCW’s branded materials in order to further establish them as the go-to civil litigation experts in the state of Virginia. This realization led us to the single most important thing we wanted the audience to remember. The civil litigation experts at HCCW provide prompt, honest communication throughout the claims process to ensure that the best outcome is reached in your case — with no surprises.
Our approach for the logo was to better reflect the down-to-earth professionalism and warm, vibrant culture that emanates from each associate and partner. We wanted to modernize the logo and strip out all of the unnecessary elements to better reflect the experience potential clients would have. Warm colors were a must along with clean, smooth fonts and visuals. Our designers went down all kinds of rabbit holes to find the right mix of modernity, cleanliness and elegance. It was definitely an exercise in knowing when to stop designing and let simplicity be the strength of the logo.
Business System Development
Once the logo was approved, we tackled the rest of the visual identity system. We again faced the same challenge of knowing how far to push the design to keep it current and sophisticated, but also when to stop designing and keep it simple and elegant. The hash mark shape of the logo lent itself perfectly to a custom herringbone pattern which quickly became the signature design element, showing up on all of the our pieces. For the business system we wanted crisp clean paper stock with presence. We relied heavily on elegant typography with minimal color. Each piece was finished off with a subtle herringbone pattern. For the business cards we were able to emboss the pattern for an extra touch of sophistication and texture.
When we began our research into law firm websites, one thing became crystal clear. They ALL look the same. Our designers were bound and determined that this redesign would not look like a status quo law firm site. After many iterations we landed on a format that was visually pleasing, easy to navigate and warm. We also pushed HCCW to break the mold of stuffy headshots and boring list of accomplishments for each lawyer. They deserve a round of applause for putting their faith in us to take them where no lawyer head shot had gone before. We were able to convince them to use a hybrid of a traditional head shot and bright, warm and beautifully composed lifestyle shots. You won’t see anyone wearing a jacket or a tie in their bio shots. What you will see, is a group of damn good looking lawyers who are approachable and worthy of their client’s trust.
The finishing touch to the HCCW rebranding package is their new Firm Overview Brochure. Whenever a potential client would contact HCCW for more information they would proceed to mail out stacks and stacks of paper with information on the client’s needs. Our job was to simplify that information into a customized and easy-to-digest brochure for each client. After a lot of research we landed on an under-sized brochure with a business card sized USB nestled in a custom die-cut at the back. We flooded pages with warm images of the HCCW staff and kept the amount of information in the physical brochure to a minimum. We wanted the physical brochure to communicate the culture and experience of working with HCCW and left the nitty gritty details to be digital files on the USB. The result is a saavy brochure that limits waste and gives potential clients exactly what they need to make a decision.
And there you have it. A rebranding that started from a done-to-death logo and website but ended up like no law firm you’ve ever seen. We took HCCW out of their comfort zone and pushed them to their limits. But by doing so we were able to tell their story in a visual way that is efficient and pleasing. Again, we’d like to thank the entire staff at Harman Claytor Corrigan & Wellman for trusting The Flores Shop to make them look good.