Branding Gets Personal at Graydon Head

Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP dives deeper into the lives of its attorneys to show that they are more than just their resumes.

Photo provided by Graydon Head


Cincinnati’s oldest and largest general practice law firm is making changes. Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP, founded in 1871, is moving its downtown office of 50 years at Fifth Third Tower on Fountain Square to Scripps Center at Third and Walnut streets and unveiling a new logo and website in October. But to stand out in a saturated industry, the law firm has taken a different approach to marketing itself.

“The only true way to distinguish ourselves from our competitors is through our people,” says Paul Darwish, Graydon’s chief business development officer and director of marketing. “One of the ways we celebrate and market them is through the stories we share on our website and in our promotional materials. It also gives our clients and prospects … a way to connect immediately, and emotionally, to who our people are.”

Graydon attorney Bruce Petrie, Jr., sat down with BrandFlick founder David Wecker to come up with a creative way to tell the attorneys’ stories. More than just a list of professional accomplishments and where they went to school, they decided to become more personal. 

“Stories have always been more interesting than resumes, even for lawyers,” says Petrie, Jr.

“Graydon’s use of stories has been closer to the lawyer-and-client relationship, versus formal resumes.” 

With four additional offices around Greater Cincinnati and more than 75 attorneys, Wecker set out to tell each attorney’s story, spending time with each and getting to know them.

“What kind of influences, adversities, compelled them to go into law?” says Wecker, a former columnist with the Cincinnati Post. “The key question: Why? That’s where the emotion is.” 

Attorney Matthew Swendiman, who joined the firm in 2012 and works in the Lawrenceburg, Indiana, office, expressed his love of family, stressing the importance of familial bonds and how they relate to solidifying personal and professional relationships.

 “While I’m proud of my professional accomplishments and how they’re presented on the Graydon website, I feel that my personal story sets me apart. My wife and children are the best thing about me, and the story of our family has resonated with many clients, prospects and colleagues,” says Swendiman. 

In his four years at Graydon, Darwish has never heard a comment about a co-worker’s professional bio. But he has heard hundreds of comments on the different personal stories shared by the firm’s attorneys. 

“There have been instances where a prospect has made a special connection with an issue or interest shared with one of our attorneys, and it has resulted in new business,” he says. “Most purchase decisions, be they in law or consumer goods, tend to be emotional in nature. Being a competent attorney might get you in the room; being someone liked and trusted is what seals the deal.”

Swendiman, who has two adopted children, recently networked with a president of a local registered investment advising company who had recently adopted a child. 

“Rather than discuss investments and finance, we spent the majority of our time together talking about open vs. closed adoptions, international vs. domestic. A connection was made, and that’s how we perform our best work,” Swendiman says.

The personal stories also have played a role in helping to attract more creative, entrepreneurial attorneys, says Darwish. And this new talent has helped develop new business areas for Graydon. 

“We’re constantly encouraging our attorneys to come up with new ideas, new practice areas (and) even entire new businesses. In just the past couple of years, we started a Craft Food and Beverage Industry Group that serves startups and emerging businesses in the hospitality industry.”

The enterprising law firm also created two new subsidiaries: Graydon Compliance Solutions, which serves clients in the wealth management industry, and Graydon Land Use, which serves municipalities and organizations dealing with zoning issues.

The personal stories take branding a step further by letting clients, prospects and friends get to know the attorneys, paralegals and professional staff. 

“It’s such a cliché; everyone has a story. But it’s true. They’re branding pieces with heart. It’s great for crowded fields,” Wecker says.


Graydon Head & Ritchey LLP has various locations in Greater Cincinnati. For more information, call 513.621.6464 or visit