We thought it might be rather nice to take a look at the branding (and its application to their website) for the top 10 UK law firms (based on Wikipedia anyway, and who are we to disagree). Click on any of the images to be whisked through to the corresponding website.
Caveat: as always, without knowing the brief, client, budget and timeframe it’s a little hard to measure their success – so this is just for fun and our opinion.
So, with no further ado and with the Top of the Pops theme tune playing in our head, here we go. In at number…
10 – Norton Rose
Norton Rose have got a rather nice and modern logo, a strong red that stands out well and an arrowhead over the ‘N’ for North, helping to guide and show clients the way. The typography has some nice sharp elements carried through from the arrowhead. The branding is then carried through well in to the website with clear top level navigation (although some clearer way of dividing up areas under ‘Expertise’ would have been good). They’ve employed a nice take on the ‘carousel’ idea and the overall colour scheme of red, black and grey works well but the other odd image in colour would have helped the site to be broken up a touch more.
9 – Eversheds
Eversheds’ identity has a very American 60’s corporate feel to it and makes you think they’ve been around since God was a lad (and not in a good way) which is surprising when you find out they only came about under the current name in 1995. Both the identity and the website feel tired and in need of a new lick of paint. The main banner on the homepage has way more white space than it needs, making it feel just empty or that the background image hasn’t loaded. The four navigation boxes on the right hand side work well to add some colour and flavour to the site but the clip-art at the bottom of the page to ‘Find a person’ and ‘Find an office’ I’d suggest should be removed quick-sticks.
As you move deeper in to the website, the navigation starts to get more and more complicated and really should be cleaned up. Breaking the main navigation up in to two horizontal pannels also makes it confusing where to go / click, especially the near duplication of ‘Search all sites’ and ‘Search this site’.
8 – Slaughter and May
Slaughter and May have a nice simple word mark set in Bliss, which coupled with a rather nice rich purple helps give them a serious and timeless appeal. The ‘slider’ on the homepage pushes one message at a time allowing them to really focus (although I’m not convinced with the lead slide pushing their mobile site with a QR code, why do you need the link to the mobile site when viewing the desktop site? It also wasn’t working with my iPhone when I checked it out but no doubt that’s temporary). Their navigation however is extremely good, clean, contemporary, easy to use with visual interest from images and ‘pull stories’.
7 – Herbert Smith
Herbert Smith have a modern (ish) slab serif word mark with echoes of the Rotis typeface and feels a little plain. Navy Blue as a colour scheme also has a very standard corporate feel although the odd touch of orange in the website does help to lift it. The website itself is fairly simple and basic, nothing too exciting going on, does the job and not a lot more – it’s very text heavy and the images at the top of the page (the ones on the homepage are especially nice) feel like they could be used more than they are to add flavour and interest to the pages.
6 – Hogan Lovells
Hogan Lovells have a lovely identity combining classical style typography with a modern and fresh lime green (serious brownie points for moving beyond the typically used dark colours) giving them a very professional but contemporary look that really stands out from the pack. But they lose points for using Flash (at the very least it won’t work on any iPhone / iPad) on their homepage – no real reason for it these days, especially with what they’re using it to achieve.
5 – DLA Piper
DLA Piper have perhaps the worst logo of the top 10 firms. It has a suspiciously cheap and clip art feel to it and to be honest isn’t doing them any favours at all. The website; some nice navigation in the top bar, especially in showing the global locations, the main navigation is simple and functional but certainly won’t set anyone’s world on fire. There’s also some half reasonable images and positional statements, although the space allocated them doesn’t really allow them to shine. The links at the bottom in blue (some a paragraph long) seem just a bit heavy handed and make them harder to both stand out and be read.
4 – Allen & Overy
Allen & Overy have our first logotype that has the classical ‘copperplate’ look and feel to it, crying out to be in a brass plaque – although to be fair they have toned it down a bit and partnered it with a nice red, but overall rather unexciting. The homepage is rather dry but shows a little promise of what it could be with the main static graphic, sadly this isn’t exploited. The navigation is a little small and very text heavy but easy to work your way through sadly it does then jump where it is on the page once you move further in to the site which I really don’t think is a great idea. It’s odd range left positioning feels a bit dated and the deeper content pages get even drier but the site does feel huge and very comprehensive, a bit like an encyclopedia.
3 – Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (or just Freshfields as they thankfully tend to refer to themselves and use as their URL). The logo itself is incredibly long which is only going to cause them problems in day-to-day usage and I can only assume it’s a matter of time before they drop the ‘Bruckhaus Deringer’ part of their name. The mark itself has religious overtones that I’m not convinced are a great asset, especially in the non Christian parts of the world that they have offices in. Overall they feel like they’ve been around forever and if anything feel more like a private bank than a law firm.
The ‘slider’ on the hompage shows some very dry images but sadly seems to break on the 5th (or it certainly does on a Mac viewing it in Safari) and these could really do with being made a little more interesting. Headings of articles as links along with ‘more’ links all in the same colour and style make it harder to pick the featured stories out. Pushing the fact they’re an official service provider for the 2012 London Olympics is nice but really should be at the top of the page in the slide rather than hiding at the bottom just above the footer. The deeper pages are very dry but functional and the image headers for them feel like a real missed opportunity to add a little more interest.
2 – Linklaters
Linklaters have perhaps the boldest logo of the top 10 law firms, that shocking pink and an industrial sans serif typeface really stands them apart in the industry and appear very fresh and modern. The navigation on their website breaks nicely in to the three main areas they’re looking to push (tied in nicely with the logo by sharing the same colour). The links under ‘latest’ (in effect new items) are rather sweet in the simple way they turn to the bright pink when rolled-over. The main image on the homepage is nice and large and pushes on message really strongly, this could be made even better if there were alternate slides that it rotated through.
The deeper pages are fairly clean and use the pink well for accents and headers, coupled with some alright (but could look less staged) black and white photography help give the site some style. They could squeeze in a few more pictures on more pages I think though, help liven up some more of the pages.
1 – Clifford Chance
Clifford Chance have a very simple and clean logotype – although the huge mono spacing of the letters does make it harder to read. The website takes a very bold approach with strong block colour that really makes an impact. The ‘slider’ on the homepage is really rather sweet even if the images look very ‘photostock’, the use of tags for the lead stories is also a rather nice idea.
The main navigation feels a little clunky with it all set in Caps, and could do with both a little colour and / or the sub pages in sentence case to aid with legibility. The deeper pages suffer the classic problem of being a little dry and again, could do with something to liven them up a touch. The secondary graphic that they use of stylised speech bubbles have real legs on them and I’m sure are really nice to roll out across other marketing materials.
So, that’s the top 10 of UK Law Firms based on 2009/10 turnover. Obviously our comments are a little brief, but what are your thoughts?