A brand style guide is a rulebook containing specifications on everything that plays a role in the look and feel of your company’s branding. It is the documentation of your brand identity, presented in a format that makes it easy to apply it to any content you create. Using a brand book ensures that your law brand looks and feels the same. Even when you have different people working on different positions in your law firm.
Besides that, a style guide is important because it helps your business communicate in a consistent way across all channels. From your logo to brand voice, graphic designers to marketers, it’s a toolkit to help you present a consistent brand.
Your style guide should be:
- Comprehensive: Including as much relevant information as possible.
- Practical: Providing clear direction with simple language and helpful examples.
- Accessible: Everyone on your team should know where to find your style guide.
Most importantly, your style guide should be customized for your law brand’s unique needs.
Before you create a style guide, you need to know your brand.
Define its key components: mission, vision, target audience, brand personality and core values. As a result, they will establish your brand identity by communicating what your law company stand for. Other parts of your brand style guide promote those key components to the world through design.
When crafting your law brand style guide, start with:
1. Choosing your format
Depending on your needs, you can design your style guide for multiple mediums. You can create printed guidelines or digital guidelines, accessible from anywhere. Moreover, you can try interactive style guides, which are easy to navigate and more dynamic.
2. Defining brand guide elements
There are six essential elements that need to be included in every brand style guide.
Some of them may already be created, like your logo or color palette. However, for others you’ll want to go back to your inspiration boards. A designer will help you take those moods, feelings and images and turn them into tangible brand elements.
Every great brand is driven by a compelling brand story. A brand story describes the things that a company cares about most. In other words, it is used to communicate company’s values to the public. Moreover, it can also help guide major decision-making within your law company.
Your brand’s story should always come first in a brand style guide. It sets the stage for the brand experience and should inform the rest of the style guide.
Brand story aside, your logo is the most important part of your brand. It’s the one thing that everyone should immediately recognize as belonging to your law company.
Ensure your logo is used in the way you intended and prevent mistakes that could send the wrong message.
Include all approved versions of your logo and describe when to use each one. Moreover, explain how not to use it and show visual examples to make it really clear.
In your brand style guide, clearly define your law brand’s color palette. Defining a brand palette will go a long way towards creating a consistent look and feel.
For example, in your style guide, show swatches of your brand colors. Make sure to include the information needed to reproduce those color accurately, wherever your brand message goes. Your color palette can guide your logo, your website design, printed advertisings and event collateral.
Typography and font guidelines
Typography is another visual element of your law brand style guide. No matter how complex your typography scheme is, make sure to give clear instructions for use.
Typographic guidelines can support your blog design, copy on your website and a tagline to go with your company logo.
To enhance your brand experience, use a brand style guide to ensure you’re applying typography consistently across your collateral. In addition, outline what fonts are used for what purposes (in print and on the web).
Everything about your imagery, including style, color and content, contributes to the perception of your law brand. Whether you work with photos or illustrations, provide lots of examples and thorough descriptions.
If your branding features infographics or data visualizations, provide some stylistic guidelines for them as well. Specify when and where to use infographics and data visualizations and include style preferences and technical conventions.
Guidelines such as these are easy to overlook, but when used properly ensure a cohesive brand presence.
The importance of having a consistent brand voice in your messaging should not be underestimated. Brand voice strongly affects how your audience feels about your law company.
Spend some time finding the style that resonates with your audience and aligns with the personality of your brand. Afterwards, ensure that it’s replicated across all channels by spelling it out in your brand style guide.
3. Making a list of additional brand collateral
Besides including the six essential elements in a brand style guide, maybe your law firm will need to go deeper.
For example, if your brand is primarily digital, you will probably need to codify how you layout images on your website. In social media marketing, you might want to include guidelines on the types of imagery you use in your posts.
A brand style guide should fit the organization it belongs to. Start by making a list of any additional elements that you will need to cover in your guide.
4. Making an outline for your guide
Next, determine the structure of your guide by making an outline. Take your 6 essential elements, mix them with your business-specific needs and wants and build an outline.
Once you have your outline, decide if you want your guide to live as a digital PDF, be available online, be printed, etc. Furthermore, make this information clear and visible to everyone.
5. Keeping your brand guidelines updated
Your brand is always growing and changing, so your brand guidelines should reflect that. After crafting your brand guidelines, revisit them periodically. Select the time to review and refresh your style guide. You can do this one month, a quarter or a year after finalizing the guidelines.
Work with your team to schedule regular content reviews and make sure the guidelines are being appropriately applied. Most importantly, have regular conversations about what is or isn’t working. Brainstorm with your team the ideas that will make using brand guidelines easier.
Your brand guidelines are the summation of your brand strategy. Therefore, they should include everything anyone might need to know about your brand.
Include your law company history, milestones or any other relevant information about its background. Moreover, explain who you are, what your law company does do and why it matters.
Follow the previous steps to create comprehensive, practical and accessible brand style guide. Furthermore, allow everyone representing your brand to produce collateral quickly, efficiently and with confidence.