Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Is Imitation Really the Highest Form of Flattery?

An invitation to a Investment Management and Hedge Fund Roundtable plopped in my Inbox this afternoon. It wasn't a relevant topic for me, so I was on the verge of just trashing the message when I noticed in the preview pane a familiar logo. I thought it was from the Boston Business Journal, but no, it wasn't. It was the logo for Pepper Hamilton, LLP.

Huh, I thought. That really looks like the BBJ logo. So I checked the BBJ site. No, they had a new logo. So I searched Google Images. There it was. So you can see the comparison, I put the two logos next to each other:

This really struck me as odd. Pepper Hamilton has been around since 1890, has offices nationwide, and seems to be a fairly well-off firm. Couldn't they hire a graphic designer to create a logo for them? I'm also curious if perhaps no one at Pepper Hamilton read the BBJ when their logo looked like this, so maybe they didn't notice. For me, it conveys an image of laziness; it looks like they saw the BBJ logo, liked it and only modified the name to suit their company. (Although, I'm willing to think perhaps the BBJ stole the Pepper Hamilton logo... if anyone knows someone at the BBJ or Pepper Hamilton, feel free to pass the info on.)
Logos often serve as the first visual introduction to a company. Think of all the hoopla around the recent logo updates for Gap, Starbucks, and JCPenney. Now granted, a law firm does not target the same demographic as major brands like Gap, Starbucks, or JCPenney, but I'm willing to bet that the folks that the Pepper Hamilton Boston office work with do read the BBJ, and would recognize the logo. 
If you were shopping for a law firm, and found a similar situation, would it impact your impression of the firm?

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