Why You Need Voice & Style Guidelines for Your Law Firm Blog
Most law firms have a team of different attorneys, each with unique strengths, styles, and approaches to legal issues. Even still, the law firm is considered a single brand. The brand itself needs to be consistent and cohesive throughout all of its marketing and advertising efforts, including its blog.
The impression you make on anyone who comes in contact with your law firm in any way through an advertisement, coming into your office, discussing your firm with a friend, perusing your website, or reading your blog is your brand. A brand is a consistent, distinct representation of your services, allowing potential clients to get a feel for what your firm is really about.
The Importance of a Voice and Style Guideline
If a law firm’s brand varies in writing style and tone of voice and inconsistently uses grammar rules, prospective clients might view the firm as unorganized and possibly even unprofessional. So how can a law firm avoid this issue? By creating and adhering to specific blog voice and style guidelines.
Whether you write in-house, use an agency, or hire a freelancer, you need to have a consistent voice in your law firm blog. Law firm voice and style guides can standardize values, personality, grammar rules, tones, fonts, and other elements of written content. Your audience judges and perceives your law firm based on your style and communication with them. Consistency is key, so they feel like you are a united, single entity. Your guidelines can also help you hire the right people or edit blog drafts so that it all sounds cohesive and as if it originated from your law firm, no matter who wrote them.
What Should You Include in Your Voice and Style Guidelines?
If you have never created or used a voice and style guideline before, you might be unsure where to start. Your guideline doesn’t have to be lengthy or complicated, but it should lay the groundwork for all of your blogs. Strive for guidelines that are no more than a few pages, as lengthy documentation will become overwhelming for anyone writing your blog.
Voice and style guidelines include elements such as:
- What words or phrases to use or not use—for example, some personal injury law firms prefer to avoid the use of the terms “accident” or “victim”
- Formattings, such as font style and size and using h1, h2, and h3 headers
- Recommended or required keywords or key terms
- Preferred styles, such as sentence case headers, use of the Oxford comma, or contractions
- The general tone you want to express—for instance, friendly, knowledgeable, formal, casual, reliable, or even urgency
- If and how pictures or other images should be used in your blog
- Desired typical blog length
- Internal and external linking best practices
- How information, such as statistics or laws, should be cited—should statutes be named or authoritative sources linked, and what types of sources should be avoided?
Although not required, a quick reference list of dos and don’ts can also be helpful for anyone who may be drafting the blogs on your behalf. Making it easy to follow your guidelines increases the chances they will be followed.
Allow Room for Change
The blog style and voice guideline you create today won’t likely be exactly the same one you want to use a year or two from now. Remember that SEO requirements are ever-changing, your law firm’s voice may slightly change, and other factors can influence necessary edits to your style guide in the future. It’s imperative to create written guidelines you can update over time. You can begin by deciding on some base ground rules and then adjust those guidelines or implement additional ones as needed.
By developing a voice and style guideline for your firm’s blogs that anyone writing for you will be able to follow, you help your firm maintain a solid and reliable brand.