Law firm branding & corporate visual identity
“We need a new logo”.
This is a fairly regular request from new clients. But is it a logo that you require, or do you need to focus on developing your brand?
We often hear that a law firm has “rebranded” only to find that in reality all that has changed is that their logo has been redrawn (often at great expense) and is rendered in a slightly different font and colour palette. This shiny new logo is then applied to a new suite of marketing materials and website, none of which dovetails with an overarching business strategy.
Put simply, your logo is your law firm’s identification in its simplest form via a recognisable mark. Your brand is the emotion behind what someone feels when they interact with your firm on any level and penetrates every aspect of your business. The corporate visual identity of your brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to your law firm and the range of services you offer.
Focusing on developing your brand can help associate your law firm with certain qualities or characteristics that make you special or unique in the minds of clients and potential instructing agents.
In a constricting legal sector that continues to evolve at a rapid pace, your brand can help your law firm survive and prosper. In a market place in which many firms appear to be similar, a market in which there is simply too many law firms, your brand matters.
If you have not yet considered your firm in terms of its brand and would like to speak with one of our branding experts in more detail please contact us for a no obligation discussion on how we can help you.
Developing a brand and style guide for your law firm
In many cases, a law firm’s brand exists in the minds of a handful of senior figures, individuals who have perhaps been there since the beginning, who have an intrinsic understanding of what the firm represents and how to convey this feeling to the outside world. All too often there is a lack of consistency throughout law firms when it comes to describing the ethos of the business.
As a test, pick at random six members of your team from different practice areas and of differing levels of seniority and ask them to deliver a 60 second ‘elevator pitch’. In our experience you will be surprised by the inconsistent nature of the responses you receive.
To ensure that everybody is singing from the same hymn sheet, to ensure that all your fee earners remain ‘on-brand’, the creation of a brand and style guide is crucial.
Too few law firms take the time to create a brand and style guide, in the absence of which incorrect or inconsistent content and branding can slip through the net. I’m sure we’ve all at some point received documents that contain distorted or pixelated logos or received emails with highly personalised and decidedly ‘off-brand’ email signatures.
Your brand and style guide should describe what your brand looks like when applied to various visual media, but will also include other elements covering how your brand is expressed such as tone of voice.
I’m sure that the vast majority of lawyers reading this will be familiar with the concept of a style manual, a document that prescribes the “styles” or standards to be implemented when presenting private content such as client correspondence, guidance, advice court documents etc. and is employed to ensure that a clear and consistent writing style is used. You may not be so familiar with the idea of a brand and style guide, which will help to establish the overall image of your law firm in the minds of the public and covers both public and private facing collateral. There can be some crossover, such as how your firm should be referenced. Is it an LLP or an L.L.P.? What abbreviations for the firm name are acceptable? Your typical law firm style manual wouldn’t however include other important corporate visual identity elements such as logo specifications and examples of usage, typography or colour palette guidelines.
Your corporate visual identity should include a range of applicable visual devices, the use of which is governed by the aforementioned brand and style guide. Establishing your corporate visual identity is an important step when it comes to how your law firm presents itself to the both the general public and internal stakeholders.
Your brand and style guide will dictate how your law firm’s corporate visual identity is applied and give direction for internal and external usage of branding devices such as logo, colour palette, typefaces, page layouts etc. Taking the time to develop a corporate visual identity and associated guidelines will help you apply consistency to how you present to the outside world at every level of your organisation and will also prove invaluable when instructing third party agencies.
Top ten tips for developing your law firm’s brand and style guide
When developing your brand and style guide you should consider including:
- An overview of your brand, including history, vision and personality
- Logo (and strap line if applicable) guidelines and illustrations of how and how not to apply
- Typography guidelines (font, header size, body copy size, justification standards etc)
- Corporate colour palette (typically including primary and secondly colour palette)
- Image/photography guidelines
- Guidelines for print and electronic usage of branding devices
- Specifications for signage and outdoor advertising if relevant
- Social media guidelines (a separate social media policy document is recommended)
- Writing style and tone of voice
- Elevator pitch
Whether you require to undertake a complete rebrand, a brand refresh, or would simply like to improve the look and feel of your on-line collateral, we can help. Contact Chris today for an informal chat.
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