How Law Firms Can Use Pantone’s 2020 Color of the Year

A row of columns at the entrance to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

In December the Pantone Color Institute announced its much anticipated 2020 Color of the Year, Classic Blue. A versatile and timeless choice, Classic Blue can be used in law firms’ 2020 marketing efforts to capture the trend and signify a changing industry.

To start a new decade the institute selected a calming hue, describing Classic Blue in its announcement as enduring, dependable and instilling confidence. The legal industry is also embarking on a new era. The technological revolution, increased competition and new competitors continue to influence change; and uncertain economic forecasts necessitate firms develop marketing plans to safeguard client relationships and bolster marketplace awareness.

The best-laid plans will position your firm as enduring, dependable and will instill confidence… sound familiar?

Integrating Classic Blue into 2020 plans will connect your firm with the color’s calm and confident messaging. Consider these three uses:

  1. Promotional Products. Instead of featuring your logo on a black, grey or white background use Classic Blue. It adds a modern design element to firm promotional products including notebooks, pens, tee shirts, and coffee mugs while maintaining the conservative look of commonly used neutral colors.
  2. Brand Photography Photo Treatment. Using a Classic Blue color overlay is a simple, impactful way to have firm photos evoke the hue’s characteristics. Whether on your website or in marketing materials, an overlay will add meaning associated with Classic Blue.
  3. Event Color Palettes. Are you planning a firm retreat or inviting clients to a roundtable? Make the most of Classic Blue’s tranquil qualities by developing your event design color palette around it. Pantone describes the color as thought-providing, aiding concentration and bringing laser like clarity. A Classic Blue-centered aesthetic will set the tone for productive discussion.

Tips for the Best Results:

  • Use Classic Blue in moderation. It may support what your organization stands for, however, there is no need to fully convert your existing brand to Classic Blue. Small touches of the color will effectively communicate its qualities, while keeping your firm marketing materials fresh and modern. However, if your firm’s visuals are no longer compelling or have become dated this may be a good time to consider a rebrand.
  • Introduce Classic Blue slowly. Similar to our above tip, don’t attempt an overhaul to incorporate it in everything during the first quarter. Organically introduce Classic Blue into marketing materials and branding throughout the year by only using it when it best fits.
  • Most importantly don’t adopt Classic Blue for the sake of following a trend. What Pantone deems the Color of the Year may not suit your brand. If Classic Blue doesn’t complement your firm colors or represent your firm identity, don’t force it onto the brand. Maintaining consistency and authenticity will always be more beneficial for your firm.

Firesign Certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

Firesign Enlightened Legal Marketing is proud to announce national certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Development Center-Midwest, a regional certifying partner of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) – the nation’s largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women.

WBENC’s national standard of certification implemented by the Women’s Business Development Center-Midwest is a meticulous process including an in-depth review of the business and site inspection. The certification process is designed to confirm the business is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by a woman or women.

By including women-owned businesses among their suppliers, corporations and government agencies demonstrate their commitment to fostering diversity and the continued development of their supplier diversity programs.

About Firesign:

As one of the nation’s only marketing agencies solely devoted to the legal industry, Firesign helps law firms build credibility and clientele. Launched in 2017 by law firm veteran Katherine Hollar Barnard, Firesign has grown from a one-woman agency to a team of specialized marketing professionals with a single goal: to help attorneys attract, win and retain business. Because it is solely focused on the legal industry, Firesign delivers efficiency and excellence; recently winning Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s “Reader Rankings” for best public relations agency, best website design firm and best business development coaching.

Firesign Founder in Forbes: Three Marketing Resolutions to be Recession-Proof

Forbes has published an article by Firesign’s CEO, Katherine Hollar Barnard, on how law firms can safeguard their businesses before a potential economic slump. The piece, “Is Your Law Firm Ready for 2020? Resolve to be Recession-Proof,” posted December 4, 2019.

In it, Barnard discusses three marketing resolutions that can improve law firms’ positions in 2020 – and why they should. She writes:

Depending on who you believe, a recession is likely next month, next year or later. Timing issues aside, as a lawyer, you are in the risk management business, so it’s critical to safeguard your business before a potential economic slump.

To be sure, law firms will have myriad concerns on the expense side, from overhead to compensation. However, focused attention on the other side of the ledger — stimulating firm revenue — can alleviate the need for drastic cuts and tough decisions.

The full Forbes article is available here.

Three Tips for Better Law Firm Holiday Gift Giving

As the holiday revelry begins, your firm is likely wrapping up seasonal gifting plans. The hectic pace of year-end can tempt phoning it in to quickly check off that box. However, with a little extra consideration you can send clients thoughtful gifts that cap off the year’s partnership with your firm.

Here are three tips to turn holiday-gifting into a smart business development strategy:

1. Segment Your Network

You’ve compiled your list of contacts and your firm’s network is vast. Instead of sending out a catchall to the entire group, take it one step further and distinguish the relationships by establishing groups that define the level of year-end recognition each merit. Consider:

  • Who will sending a card to be sufficient?
  • What relationships should be acknowledged with a gift?
  • Are there key relationships that call for a more lavish gift than others?
  • Do any companies have gift policies you need to be mindful of?

Connecting with different contacts in a variety of ways allows you to effectively show your appreciation.

2. Personalize Your Gifts

Think about personalizing gifts from two different perspectives – gifts that represent your clients or gifts that represent your firm – and decide which works best for you.

Gifts that represent your client show how well you know them personally and your understanding of their business. Done right, they demonstrate that your relationship has moved beyond simply providing a service. Consider a gift representative of their industry, the company’s interests and personal interests of your client. For example, if your client was in the pet industry and supported causes related to pet-adoption you could make a charitable donation in their name.

Sending something representative of yourself makes the sender easily identifiable. Think about aspects of your firm that standout to your client – are you based in a different city or state, do provide them any unique services, did you have a notable case or memorable meeting during the calendar year that you could commemorate with a gift?

For extra credit, send a gift that combines both. Continuing with the above example you could donate to a local charity related to your client’s industry, or one they are personally passionate about, in both their city and yours.

3. Know Your Audience

Before you decide to send a gift directly to your main point of contact ask yourself: How is their organization set up? How many other people are on their team? Who else at the company makes your job easier? Are there other decision-makers at the company?

Also recognizing the associate general counsel, an administrative assistant who regularly schedules your meetings, or finance department shows you appreciate the partnership of the entire business.

Katie Barnard Featured Alumna at Upcoming Journalism School Event

The University of Kansas William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication has announced Firesign’s Katie Barnard will be among the 2019 featured alumni at J-School Generations. The event will be held October 24 and 25, 2019. A full list of alumni guests is available here.

The School of Journalism invites all J-School alumni to return to campus each fall during Homecoming Week to re-connect with faculty, students and alumni. During the two-day event alumni speakers visit journalism classes, network with students, and mentor students in an Adobe XD Creative Jam design challenge.

Get to Know Firesign: Amy Nouri, Vice President

At Firesign we believe the practice of law is as much about people as precedent, and the best legal marketing is built on trust, empathy and respect. Meet the proud purveyors of Enlightened Legal Marketing you are working with in our Get to Know Firesign series.

This month we visited with Amy Nouri, Firesign’s vice president of public relations and programming. Skillfully using the modern marketing mix – paid, earned, social and owned media – Amy helps lawyers build visibility, credibility and business. She also manages Firesign educational programming, including our women’s business development program, Ellesquire.

What did you do before Firesign? How do you apply that experience to your work today?

Most relevant to current role is my experience on the in-house marketing team at Am Law 200 firm Lathrop & Gage (now Lathrop Gage). I managed public relations and advertising tactics in its 11 local markets and nationwide and coordinated production of numerous firm marketing materials. I also spearheaded firm and attorney nominations and submissions for legal awards and rankings; and executed marketing strategies for two new practice groups.

I spent several years at Garmin Ltd., creating global public relations campaigns for the company’s fitness segment, followed by a stint on Hallmark’s public relations and social media team where I led influencer relations, managed public relations for the company’s licensing and home and gifts businesses, and worked on content, calendaring and paid strategy for brand-level social media platforms.

I use my experience developing and executing successful campaigns for a wide range of projects to creatively approach Firesign marketing projects – applying learnings from within and outside traditional legal marketing to build strategic plans that deliver for clients.

Managing PR for an engineering company was also a valuable crash-course in being able to turn complex, jargon-heavy documents into attention-grabbing narratives for media.

What is your favorite recent project?

I truly enjoy them all because every project – like every lawyer, firm and case – is unique.

That said, I get especially excited to work on marketing audits for firms, taking an in-depth look at marketing efforts of the past, present and providing an actionable roadmap for ways to improve; am passionate about anything related to our women’s business development program, Ellesquire; and my competitive nature has also given me a particular fondness for any sort of nomination.

What do you do when you’re not on the clock?

I spend time with my two very active boys (ages 3 and 1), refereeing wrestling matches, performing as a sidekick/villain/miscellaneous supporting character in numerous superhero stories, and once they finally wear themselves out my husband and I sit on the couch with (many) cocktails to decompress from the chaos.

What do you enjoy about legal marketing?

I like being on the cusp of innovation. The industry is entering a new era where even long-standing firms are being pushed outside of their marketing and business development comfort zones. The heightened competition for market share has everyone trying new things and leaders are open to new ideas. Being in a position to provide real value, helping firms attract, win and retain business, gets me excited to work every day.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Reggie Love (The Client) and Harvey Specter (Suits)

Firesign CEO Named Among 2019 NextGen Leaders

Katherine Hollar Barnard has been selected to the Kansas City Business Journal’s 2019 NextGen Leaders program, which recognizes the rising stars of Kansas City business.

Honorees are selected by a panel of independent judges. The program seeks to recognize the budding talent and to connect these emerging leaders while helping build their knowledge and skill sets. A full list of the NextGen Leaders can be viewed here.


Firesign Wins Three Reader Ranking Awards from Missouri Lawyers Media

Missouri Lawyers Media announced today its 2019 Reader Ranking Awards, honoring Firesign with top honors in three categories. The agency was voted the top winner for: Law Firm Business Development and Coaching Services, Public Relations Agency, and Website Design.

Voted on by Missouri Lawyer Media readers, the Reader Ranking Awards celebrate the businesses and organizations that support and enhance the work of attorneys.

Get to Know Firesign: Katie McNeil, Graphic Designer

At Firesign we believe the practice of law is as much about people as precedent, and the best legal marketing is built on trust, empathy and respect. Meet the proud purveyors of Enlightened Legal Marketing you are working with in our Get to Know Firesign series.

This month we visited with Firesign’s resident graphic designer, Katie McNeil. Fusing her graphic design experience and acumen with her legal training, Katie develops and creates brand identities for our legal industry clients. She masterfully creates attractive pieces that work with business realities.

What did you do before Firesign? How do you apply that experience to your work today?

Before working at Firesign, I worked for a distributor in the outdoor power equipment industry and then for a credit union. I wasn’t always a designer, though. For a whole month I was a paralegal, which makes my work at Firesign feel a little bit like fate.

My previous experience has taught me to:

  • Prioritize function first and beauty second.
  • Ask a million questions upfront, such as: who is the audience, where will they be seeing this, how is it going to be used, and what is the goal of the project or what’s its job?

What is your favorite recent project?

Creating visual identities for attorneys who are going out on their own is always rewarding. Seeing them get excited when we put the final touches on their shiny new logo makes my designer heart happy.

What do you do when you’re not on the clock?

I love going out to eat, especially if it means tacos and spicy margaritas are on the menu. I also love going on adventures with my two-year old. Every time we leave the house she calls it an adventure. And honestly she is right… have you ever tried to take a two-year old ANYWHERE? It is comical chaos.

What do you enjoy about legal marketing?

I most enjoy the tidiness of the legal marketing industry. I consider myself a very clean designer—everything has its place and it’s my job to thoughtfully put it there. I also feel like there is so much visual good we can do in legal marketing and marketing overall because for so long it has been a TIMES NEW ROMAN industry.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

Vinny Gambini (My Cousin Vinny)

Get to Know Firesign: Erin Curtis-Dierks, Marketing Project Manager

At Firesign we believe the practice of law is as much about people as precedent, and the best legal marketing is built on trust, empathy and respect. Meet the proud purveyors of Enlightened Legal Marketing you are working with in our Get to Know Firesign series.

This month we visited with Firesign Marketing Project Manager Erin Curtis-Dierks. With an eye for detail, devotion to lists and schedules, and infectious effervescence Erin “keeps the trains running” for Firesign’s law firm and legal tech marketing projects.

What did you do before Firesign? How do you apply that experience to your work today?

For over 20 years I have coordinated promotions and marketing campaigns in media, consumer goods and higher education. I honed my project management and strategy skills at Quaker Oats, where I worked in promotions and packaging development. I also worked for years in marketing and public relations at the University of Kansas and Baker University, leading teams in developing and executing a variety of marketing and public relations initiatives. This collective experience has provided me with the background to oversee our Firesign marketing projects, coordinating business needs while ensuring we stay on schedule and budget. It helps that I love logistical management, big-picture thinking and detail. I also enjoy writing, so working at Firesign allows me to wear many hats and contribute in a variety of ways, which is very fulfilling.

What is your favorite recent project?

I have a handful of favorites, but recently I’ve been working with a small boutique firm on their first ever comprehensive marketing plan. In a short time, we’ve developed a social media strategy, enhanced website biographies, created a client communication protocol, developed a rankings/recognition calendar for the firm partners, generated monthly content, and landed coverage in a prominent regional legal publication (that was picked up nationally). It’s thrilling to see how much we can help move the dial for our clients.

What do you do when you’re not on the clock?

I hang with my three kids and husband, run, tend to my work-in-progress garden, inhale celebrity gossip, and enjoy a tasty Horsefeather cocktail or two. I also adore a good living room dance party.

What do you enjoy about legal marketing?

Attorneys and law firms are generally very measured and organized and ready to learn about any/all marketing opportunities – fantastic clients to work with. Whether it’s a website overhaul, a public relations campaign, generating content, or snagging a coveted recognition/award for an attorney, it’s wonderful to see our team of amazing women make magic for our hardworking clients.

Who is your favorite fictional lawyer?

I have two: Barry Zuckerkorn (Arrested Development) and Saul Goodman (Better Call Saul).