Driving Home The Less-Is-More Lesson

By Peter Cronin | Thursday, September 22, 2016 | 1 Comment

Like most Nashville drivers, I spend a lot of time these days crawling along in the city’s increasingly crazy traffic, longing for some clear, open road. Stopped dead in a recent rush hour, I was struck by the number of ads for lawyers all around me. Splashed across billboards and plastered on the sides of passing city buses, they’re everywhere.

I did a bit of homework on attorney advertising, and quickly found out that before 1977, a lawyer publicly soliciting services was considered by the American Bar Association to be below the dignity of the profession, and it was pretty much illegal across the country. A Supreme Court decision back in ‘77 changed all that, and the floodgates opened for attorney advertising.

While advertising is used across a wide range of specialties, the most common ads are those from what are known as “tort” lawyers – things like personal injury and medical malpractice. Frankly, in both design quality and tone of messaging, the vast majority of these ads don’t do a lot to dispel the “ambulance chaser” stereotype.

The traffic finally increased to a crawl, and rounding the next corner I came upon a billboard that took a different tack, immediately catching my attention. About 75% bright, white space with very little copy, the ad features a striking profile shot of the handsome young attorney in his “I’m-listening-very-closely-to-you” pose, planting a feeling of ease and integrity in the mind of the viewer, and distinguishing the firm in a sea of competitors.

Thankfully, I haven’t had any need for a tort lawyer recently, and I know nothing about Ponce Law or the designer or agency that created the campaign. But as a certified branding nerd, I love to see strategic disruption and true differentiation make a difference in effectively communicating a brand. It’s a great example of less-is-more and proof that there’s always something to learn, even when you’re stuck in traffic.

One thought on “Driving Home The Less-Is-More Lesson

  1. Thank you for your insights. I was indeed going for a clean look. Interestingly the photo was taken without my knowledge at a legal conference. The photographer emailed it to me. We then dropped the background and used the photo in this billboard, maintaining a lot of white space for a uncluttered look.

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